Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cute Things Postal Managers Say (Or Spew?)

By Mel Carriere

I haven't been writing a lot on the Tsunami lately for a few reasons; some personal, some logistical, some having to do with getting my butt kicked by the November mail flow.   

The November mail flow is like a Tsunami in and of itself.  It washes in a lot of unexpected debris from parts unknown - stuff that, while mildly shocking at the moment, doesn't really surprise you because at this point in your Postal career, if your Postal career is longer than a year or so, you've probably seen everything.

One of the things that washed up this November in our office was a new station manager.  She actually has been our station manager for a few years on paper, but never reported for duty, probably because our backwater, out of the way office is somewhat of a career killer for aspiring bigshots.  I think she must have gotten in trouble somewhere and finally had to lower herself, because I've never heard anybody use the word  "respect" so many times in the same sentence.  When she first started she was just full of love and the "utmost respect" for everybody.

That romantic ardor is cooling off now.  She is finally learning why nobody wants to manage our office, why our place is only a temporary way station for managers on their way up or their way out, and this is taking its toll after only a couple of weeks.  The cracks are showing.  Any day now she is only to explode in a messy splatter of something other than the utmost respect.

This new manager has convinced me that lying shamelessly is an actual, premeditated management strategy that just might work in a lot of places.  Of course, it doesn't work in our station because we have too many cynical, broken down, battle hardened old farts, like me, which is another reason nobody wants to supervise us.  You just can't lie and expect us to believe it, because we've heard all the lies before.  We don't get mad when people lie to us, we just shake our heads and patiently endure it, like it is something nasty but cute and funny at the same time, like when a baby spits up on you.  You just smile, say "awww," pass the baby back to its Mama then go for a towel to clean yourself up; to get that nasty goo off of you before it dries.

Every morning this new station manager gives us a stand up talk, because "that's my style," so she says.  During the stand up talk she tells us pretty much the same lies.  I thought I would share a short list of some of these cute, colorful things she says:

There's no mail today: Of course, this lie is promulgated and perpetuated throughout every post office, everywhere, so nothing new.  What amazes me, without really amazing me, is that managers have the audacity to say this when anybody legally licensed to drive can see there are dangerously leaning towers of 775 tubs stuffed with presort flats piled at our cases, along with holiday parcels stacked to the ceiling.

The parcels are finished:  I have to give this new manager credit for putting an interesting new spin on lying, and going to great, creative lengths to make these lies seem like the truth.  She actually has instructed the clerks to ring the bell for parcel completion when only the big packages have been distributed, giving carriers the false impression that we have all our mail going out the door.  Of course, what this fibbing little bell isn't saying is that untold hundreds of SPRs still have to be sorted, and these won't be "finalized" until 12:30, meaning we will all have to drive back to the post office in the afternoon, then backtrack a couple dozen little guys. 

The DPS is half of what it was yesterday:  Technically, this was true, and if there was a court of Postal Prevarication somewhere she probably couldn't get convicted on it.  In this case it really wasn't the lie that offended, but the facts that were omitted that gave the false conclusion that the having half of yesterday's DPS would create an easy, smooth, mail delivery day.  In reality, the reason the DPS was light was because a significant portion of DPS-machineable letters were not processed by the plant, for whatever reason, and were at our cases waiting to be sorted by hand.  Actually, only about half of these unprocessed letters were at our cases in the morning, on my route about a foot and a half.  After securing time "commitments" from the carriers the manager then had the clerks spread the other half of the letters, at least another foot and a half, meaning all told about 700 pieces that had to be cased per route because they never found their way to the DPS machine. Legally she's in the clear on lying, I guess, but my prayer book talks about lies of commission and lies of omission; so Mom would still spank your blue Postal butt on this one, and the priest would give at least a half dozen Hail Marys for penance.

Postal Managers are tricksy hobbitses, everybody knows that.  I've heard a lot of managers say a lot of dumb things, and most of these I could attribute to an inability to process facts correctly (meaning being ditzy), incomplete information, or going into Postal ostrich mode - in which managers bury their heads in the sand to blind themselves from the grim reality.  But when there is such a deliberate, systematic, calculated effort to lie that includes bringing others into the conspiracy, it makes me shudder for what could happen.  The lies aren't so cute and colorful anymore.  When babies spit up it can be charming and lovable, when grown men and women do the same it's considered biological waste and can be highly toxic.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Cool Your Engines - Postal Accident Hat Tricks

By Mel Carriere 

In a hockey hat trick, where three goals are scored by the same player, in certain towns the adoring fans pummel the ice with dead octopi.  I can't imagine anybody lugging around a squishing, smelling octopus corpse in his coat pocket, on the astronomical long shot that a player will get three pucks in the net on the same night, only then to have one's favorite hockey jacket thrown out by a nose curling wife upon arriving home smelling like an aquarium, but it happens.

In the Postal Service there are hat tricks too.  I know a guy who missed three MSP scans in one day.  He was pelted with an octopus by his supervisor when he got back to the office.  A CCA misdelivered three parcels, for the same block, which generated three separate angry phone calls to the post office, causing it to rain octopi dozens of miles from the ocean.

Some postal hat tricks are of a more serious nature that don't involve any elaborate cephalopod celebrations. Our station is on the verge of one such ignoble triple distinction, but it feels more like strike three you are out than hey, we appreciate you so much we are going to shower you with soggy dead marine animals.

Just a week ago we were on the nice instead of the naughty list, but man how quickly that turned around at the drop of a hat, or at the drop of an eight legged, ink squirting lump of tentacles, if you prefer.  Our office had gone ninety days or so without any accidents at all, not so much as a paper cut or broken fingernail.  We were right on the verge of being awarded a big bagel party in appreciation, a sumptuous banquet  that may or not have included some octopus flavored bread spread.  Then the cruel caprices of the Postal gods changed, and they decided we needed to be punished for our accident free hubris and denied the divine manna of life sustaining baked gluten balls.

Two thunderbolts were cast down quickly from Postal Olympus.  Last week one of them struck appropriately during a freak San Diego rainstorm, when one of our carriers slipped stepping out of his vehicle and tore his hamstring.  He is undergoing physical therapy and will be out several weeks.  

This was a blow to those of us salivating with visions of free bagels dancing in our heads, which the tightwad supervisors are now going to deny, in spite of 90 days of perfection.  But it gets even worse than bagel deprivation.

On Wednesday, while delivering a package upstairs in an apartment complex, one of our carriers comitted the Postal cardinal sin of leaving his vehicle running.  This is sort of inexcusable, almost impossible to justify and equally difficult to throw down the "hey nobody told me" card on.  Two or three times a week we get one of those eye rolling, yawn stifling, here we go with the same old s*** again stand up talks where they tell us specifically not to do this. Sometimes they include pictures for the attention deficit types.

It seems like they shouldn't even have to tell us this.  It seems like every five year old since kindergarten was invented has seen Mommy take the keys out of the car before she walks them to the door.  Unsupervised keys in an auto ignition are just dangerous.  Kindergarteners understand instinctively that horrible things can happen with untended keys, like the world might spin off its axis.  Grown adult postal employees, however, either forget this or are too stressed to care, despite daily dire warnings.

The untended LLV slipped out of Park and hit a car.  The result is that this unfortunate carrier is on emergency placement, "pending termination."  He will get his job back, but it could be weeks, or even months, and in the meantime I don't think he has a lot of spare cash in the bank.

I just realized this is starting to sound like one of those same eye rolling stand up talks I hate to suffer through, to the point they give me severe mental fatigue, and you probably feel the same.  So let's go back to the former titillating discussion of marine invertebrates and threesomes, and how they interact.

Our safety captain tells us postal accidents happen in threes, so if this is true we are already two thirds of the way to a postal hat trick.  Instead of partaking of the blessing of bagels, if we have one more accident we will be served up some flying octopi.

I sure hope the octopus hat trick doesn't fall on my plate.  They're kind of hard to chew, and they can leave you constipated for weeks.

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