Friday, February 27, 2015

Tax Season Means Broken Mail Boxes

By Mel Carriere

Just an introductory word to endorse Danny Glover for President, and then I'll move on to today's topic.

I took over a new route in late September.  I call it a bipolar route because the time it takes me to do it can vary as much as two hours, depending on the day of the week and the mail volume.  It is also bipolar in the income cross section that it covers.  The people who own the large acre plus lots on the edge of the river valley could be said to be borderline wealthy, while the folks who live in my large condo complex  could be said to be lower middle class.  It wouldn't be fair to call certain parts of my route "ghetto," but ghetto is sneaking up quickly in the rearview mirror - riding the bumper, if you will.

The photo above is evidence of this semi-ghettoness.  In the five months since I've been on the route the gang boxes for the condo complex, which has 300 units and six separate stops, have been broken into at least a dozen times.  I've stopped counting.  Since the boxes have been raped and ransacked so many times they have no uniformity anymore.  Some of them are really old and some of them are relatively new, like the ones you see above.  The new ones pretty much have to be ripped apart to get into, and then are rendered useless.  The older ones have been jimmied so many times that they are easily pried open, and are so pliable that I can still lock them up the next day.

When I first got the route I thought I was leaving the boxes open after I dropped in the mail, but then after seeing pried open boxes at several stops I realized it was theft.  I mean, I'm not above an absent minded brainfart once in a while, but I know I wouldn't leave boxes open at every single stop no matter how much my whip-cracking supervisor was breathing down my neck.

During W-2 season the theft got really bad and it seemed like the crooks were ripping through the complex twice a week.  The boxes at two of the stops became so completely unserviceable that the homeowner's association finally replaced them with really nice CBUs that are near impossible to break into.  So in certain ways the thieves have been doing me a favor, while on the other hand they have been sticking me with that same mailbox-jacking crowbar because I have to do the extra work of holding mail for the broken boxes all the time.

An employee at the 7-11 across the street who lives in the complex told me last week that they finally caught the thief.  This employee wears a Star Trek Federation emblem on his uniform shirt and I think speaks fluent Klingon, but that really has nothing to do with anything.  No matter what his hobbies are, he seems to be an intelligent young man who has the buzz on what's going on in the complex.  He told me (in English, not Klingon) that the thief was some tatooed parolee who was busting into the boxes very early in the morning, when there were plenty of witnesses to see him.  From the sound of it, the thief probably couldn't find a job and chose mailbox theft because it's a Federal crime and from what I hear Federal prisons are better.  The Klingon-speaking 7-11 employee assured me that Federation prisons are better still, but this mailbox crime was out of its jurisdiction.

I don't know if there are any morals or conclusions to be drawn from any of this.  You try to tell customers to use the US Mail because of the computer hacking identity theft problem, then something like this happens that kind of makes it a hard sale.

Star Trek guy was happy because his mailbox was not one of the ones broken into, but his paycheck from the Federation is still missing because of "Network Rationalization" plant closures, which I guess is a problem on every planet.

Live long and prosper.

The freaky thing is that when I wrote this post last night I had not yet heard the news that Leonard Nimoy, the actor who portrayed Mr. Spock on the TV series, had passed away.  Even if you aren't a serious trekkie and you don't speak either Klingon or Vulcan, I think we can all say that Spock entertained a lot of us in an endless loop of weekday afternoon reruns when we were kids.  May he rest in peace.

Photo is my own.

The Postal Tsunami is a powerful wave propelled by copious quantities of Starbuck's coffee, which is not cheap.  I have nothing to do with ad selection here, but unless these ads completely annoy or offend you I would appreciate if you could check out what my sponsors to the right and down below have to say.  Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Where Have All the Good Times Gone? - The Perception of Postal Jobs is not What it Used to Be

By Mel Carriere

Greetings from the land where clouds are as rare as enlightened supervisors and the sunshine works a twelve hour shift without overtime or penalty pay.  Actually we finally had a little rain here on Sunday to dampen down the dust from the Santa Ana winds that have been raging across the landscape this winter, so the ducks in the little pond you see here on my route are taking advantage of this temporary bonanza of dampness.

One thing that does not seem so sunny at all right now is the future of postal employment; or at least the public perception of postal employment.  There was a time when double digit thousands would flock to the local testing site to arm wrestle over a few hundred jobs.  When I started twenty years ago a postal job meant a decent, living wage that allowed a person to purchase a home and maintain a little slice of the middle class American dream.

To demonstrate how badly that postal dream is fizzling out before our eyes, I will relate the results of a poll I posted on one of my Hub Pages articles back in August of 2013.  Entitled "CCA Survival," this has been my most popular article to date, generating approximately 11,000 views and dozens of comments.  Based on the content of the comments section, the article is read mostly by those just starting out as CCAs or considering applying for or accepting a CCA position.  Because the article does not flinch from exposing the harsh reality of postal employment, the poll results could have been skewed to the negative by the unforgiving attitude of the article's author (me), who didn't sugar coat anything.  Nevertheless, even taking into consideration the seed of doubt I may have planted in the heads of these readers, the results are not encouraging.  Here is a screen shot of my poll:

As you can see above, 696 people voted in this poll, and the little I still remember from my semester of college statistics tells me that this is a statistically significant sample size.  Of these near 700 participants in the poll only 26% said that postal employment is still a promising career choice.  That's only 181 people out of 696 who were certain that postal employment is a good thing.

I forget how much the starting wage was when I took the postal exam in the early 90s, but when I showed up to take the test at the Scottish Rites Center here in San Diego's Mission Valley there was a line of people waiting to enter the building that circled the parking lot.  Only a tiny percentage of those taking the test got the job, and these people felt like they had won the lottery.  If I was to post a poll asking whether or not you would like to win the lottery, I am pretty sure I would get a positive response rate higher than 26%, and there probably would not be 32% in the undecided category, as there was in my poll.

But that's what it has come down to.  The value of postal wages has eroded because it has not kept pace with inflation, meaning that a postal job doesn't buy as much as it used to. I'm not blaming or pointing the finger at anyone other than the debilitating recession we are just starting to climb out of, and the postal robbers/raiders who kept fleecing us for 5 billion a year at a time when mail volume was plummeting.

These poll results also demonstrate a disturbing long-term trend in the American economy as a whole.  A postal job starting at $15 an hour is still one of the best paying entry level jobs out there, and if only 26% of people polled think that is a pleasing prospect, what does that say about the job market in general?  There aren't very many good unionized factory jobs anymore and the best the service sector can provide these days is $13 an hour managing the Panda Express around the corner from my house.  The whole Reaganomics "trickle down" theory that started in the 80s has only led to the impoverishment of the American people as wages are reduced to starvation levels and good factory jobs are outsourced to Bangladesh.

The needle on the unemployment rate may be ticking upward, but what is the quality of that employment?  If a once highly alluring postal job can only get you a 26% approval rating, what is the outlook for jobs in general in this country?

Just another bummer to add to your list when it's only Tuesday and there is still a long, grueling postal week ahead of us.

Read the article that this poll came from

The photo is mine, as if anyone else would want to claim it.

The Postal Tsunami is a powerful wave propelled by copious quantities of Starbuck's coffee, which is not cheap.  I have nothing to do with ad selection here, but unless these ads completely annoy or offend you I would appreciate if you could check out what my sponsors to the right and down below have to say.  Thanks for your support.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ask Not What Your Postal Supervisor Can Do for You, Ask What You Might as Well Do Yourself

By Mel Carriere

There are a couple important things we have been told throughout the years we are not supposed to ask, and other than that I guess everything else is fair game, something I tried as a child to explain to my father during long road trips slash interrogation sessions during which I refused to go to sleep like my sister.

JFK said don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.  I love Kennedy, but this seems like a politician's nice way of saying that your tax money is all spent so don't be expecting anything in the mail come refund season.

A little bit of a creepier thing, Ernest Hemingway tells us, is not to ask for whom the bell tolls.  Hemingway was actually plagiarizing a poet-philosopher named John Donne who wrote this line in the 17th century.  I don't live close to a Catholic Church, who are practically the only ones doing any bell tolling in these days of rock and roll mega churches, but I get the point.  They're saying don't ask whose funeral that is over there because you're next.

If you are a Postal Employee there is one other thing you are not supposed to ask, and that is what your supervisor can do for you.  The reason you are not supposed to ask this is because no matter how many times you ask he or she is not going to do it and you're just going to wind up doing it yourself.

Of course your supervisor expects you to jump through hoops for him or her, like Nathan the Bloodhound who won the National Dog Show in 2014.  Unlike the dog show participants, however, there won't be any happy tail wagging at the end because the dogs get rewarded with treats, and you just get rewarded with more work.

No matter how hard you attempt to take yourself to new extremes of hoop jumping for your supervisor, however, it seems like he or she is never around when there is something important you need one on your route to keep the customers happy and to keep the Postal Service operating efficiently.  Your supervisor will get back to you later because he has to sit in on a telecon; or he's got a customer waiting on line 1 that has suddenly become incredibly urgent,even though the customer line is generally harder to get through on than talking to a living, breathing bank employee; or he's got to run over and finish pretending to split the aux route.  "Don't worry, I'll take care of it!" he shouts as he turns away to take care of that critical matter that you, quite obviously, are not.  Five minutes later you can usually find him BS-ing in the parking lot with the custodian.

I've practically given up waiting for my supervisors to take care of anything.  Therefore, short of hacking into the Postal computer system or committing a felony, I'll limit myself to misdemeanors only and if there is any marginally conceivable way I can take care of postal business myself I am going to do it.  If I have to pick the lock on the supply room to get a satchel strap by golly I'm going to jimmy that door, or otherwise risk having to sling around 60 pounds of mail on my shoulder using a mail bag jury rigged with my postal-issue belt, a hand towel I liberated from the Days Inn I sometimes deliver to, and some duct tape.  Breaking the rules a little is better than painfully enduring that endless waiting period that only ends whenever my supervisor "gets around to it" or my shoulder gets yanked out of socket, whichever comes first.

A Postal Supervisor can't even get anything done when it is to his or her benefit only and you could really care less, but are only informing them out of professional courtesy.  For about a week recently I was missing an MSP sticker because some new boxes were installed, and every morning for several days I had to re-explain this to my supervisors, who were coming around and beating me up for missing the scan.  I actually had to explain it over and over again to several supervisors and the station manager as well, because of course these people all hate each other, are completely satisfied anytime there is a "fail" on the other guy's watch, and accordingly never communicate.  Finally, after about the third time justifying the missed scan to one of these rotating supervisors I finally got a new sticker, a response that is equivalent to hyperspace by postal supervisorial standards.

Note to supervisors:  Your dog may do tricks for you at home, but knowing the likes of you I'm sure he's not doing it out of love and expects to be generously rewarded.  Why can't you do the same for me?  I'm not talking about a scratching behind the ears either.  I saw you take that clipboard into the bathroom when you were hiding from me a few minutes ago and I would prefer a "no hands" policy, please.  All I'm saying is that when you're asking me what I can do to make your job easier, every once in a while you might reciprocate and ask what you can do for me.  Oh - and then really do it.

Image from:

The Postal Tsunami is a powerful wave propelled by copious quantities of Starbuck's coffee, which is not cheap.  I have nothing to do with ad selection here, but unless these ads completely annoy or offend you I would appreciate if you could check out what my sponsors to the right and down below have to say.  Thanks for your support.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What Do You Do when Your Manager Drives Your Mail?

By Mel Carriere

Greetings from the land of the everlasting sunshine, where California is quickly drying up, withering away and blowing into the ocean.  I'm not even going to try and pretend that I feel the pain of those of you trying to dig out from under seven feet of snow or more.  Instead of shoveling ice off my driveway today I was trimming my palm trees in my shirt sleeves.  So hurry up and move to California while you still can, before it blows off the map or gets pushed into the sea by that massive glacier forming in the Eastern part of the country.

Enough meteorological talk.  Whether you deliver mail from beneath a blanket of snow or while dodging blowing tumbleweeds in a Santa Ana windstorm there are still many things we all have in common as Letter Carriers, and one  of the most important of these is the quality of Management we have to deal with everyday.  There are a-hole supervisors in Boston just like there are a-hole supervisors in Malibu.  These people don't change with the weather, and that's mostly because they don't get out in it much.  Maybe if they did they would understand your need to stop and thaw your frozen fingers between deliveries.

Here in San Diego the flavor of the month is to get back into the office by 5 PM.  On Saturday afternoon I went back to the station to pick up a little overtime, and my supervisor told me that 5 PM was the absolute drop dead turn into a pumpkin time for returning from the street.  "What if I can't make it, then what?"  I asked him.  "You have to make it," he said.  I repeated "What if I can't?"  "It's the District Policy now," he said, as if the District Policy was going to strap on a satchel  and take some of the mail off my hands so I could get back in time.

In addition to the overtime that was already pushing me to the limits of the sacred, mystical 5 PM moment at which time I was going to turn into a pillar of salt, my supervisor asked me if I could take a relay all the way across to the opposite side of the Zip Code for another carrier who was in danger of being late.  "If I do that I'm going to be past 5 for sure," I told him.

"That's okay, I'll take it to him," he answered without so much as batting an eye.

My supervisor thinks that because I used to do his job I am automatically sympathetic to his cause, but that is definitely not the case.  I went into supervision for about a year and a half under the naive assumption that I might help change things for the better and that maybe I could infuse a little bit of intelligence into the job, not knowing at the time that wasn't a requirement.  Maybe I had some sort of misguided sense of duty.  Anyhow, I realized after a year and a half that I wasn't going to try and satisfy the deluded expectations of psychopaths anymore and that Postal Management had an incurable illness that can never be changed for the better by things like intelligence.  That illness is the ostrich syndrome; a condition where one's head is shoved so deep down the DOIS hole that the real world can't be seen at all; only a false paper reality where someone's poorly calculated, dreamily quixotic numbers on a page become the truth because they have been declared to be so.

Anyhow, I guess my supervisor thought my deprogramming phase from the Postal Management Stockholm Syndrome was not complete, because he had just stood there and without stuttering even a little had told me that he was going to drive the mail.

"If you do that I'm going to have to tell," I answered.

I don't consider myself a stooge, or a rat fink, or a whistle-blower, or a bell-ringer, or a tattle-tell or a stool pigeon, or a snitch, or any of those other descriptive words that apply to people who run to the teacher when some sort of naughty has been committed.  My motivation for challenging him on this is that there are so few crumbs in the overtime pie left that a man's got to protect his livelihood.

"Oh come on, don't be like that," the supervisor complained.

I explained that we're not living in the world where the ODL is being maxed out every day anymore.  Now the CCAs in our station have taken nearly all of our overtime away (meaning no malice against my CCA brothers and sisters), local management also has this arbitrary 5 o'clock number they pulled out of a hat that we're up against, and I'm not going to let him take away overtime meant for the ODL just so he can meet that magically meaningless tape measure of his supervisorial skills.  Of course I didn't say it using so many big words, being forced to talk down to his level, but I guess I got my point across.

To make a long story short I drove that relay to the street and the carrier came and found me.

To sum it all up, everybody made it back on time, so I guess this story had a "happy ever after." If you believe in Postal fairy tales, that is.

Picture of the shadowy mailman above is my "selfie."

The Postal Tsunami is actually a massive wave of Starbuck's black coffee, which is woefully expensive.  I have no say in picking the ads here, but unless they completely annoy or offend you, please investigate what my sponsors in the right sidebar and down below have to say.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Are you a Robber or a Runner - Thoughts on Inter-Carrier Conflicts

By Mel Carriere

I know I can be a horse's ass sometimes, but that guy up there in the picture would tell you he takes umbrage with you comparing me to his hindquarters, upon which he places a high esteem.  Therefore, says Mr. Horse here on the dusty back stretches of my semi ruralish route, keep your insults on a human level, and don't go getting other species involved.

We human beings are pretty good at slinging insults at one another, and most of the time this petty effrontery pretty much equates to the waste products that come out of my horse friend's back end.  Sometimes these barbs are good-natured fun,  but on occasion they cross over the line into nastiness.  Despite all the warnings about mutual respect that comprise the text of many a Station Manager or Postmaster's sermon after some postal employee's slip of the tongue has crossed the line, we continue to push the limits and test what we can get away with while wearing the postal blue.

This inter-carrier squabbling almost always works against the unity and solidarity that is required to stand up to management's often unrealistic expectations, and even contributes to the "divide and conquer" strategy that supervisors use to turn us against one another.

I came back from vacation on Tuesday, and it didn't take long for me to be reminded what babies we carriers can be, even though most of us in my senior-dominated station (where I am almost the "baby" at 51 years old), are probably old enough to know better.

Two of our letter carriers, and permit me to assign them the arbitrary, imaginary names of Juan and Joe, were going at it about each other's work performance.  Joe thinks Juan works too hard, and Juan thinks Joe doesn't work hard enough.  Joe actually started the quarrel, and although I missed the first part because I was actually minding my own business for a change, my ears perked up when I heard Joe express to Juan a sentence that ended with "...maybe if you didn't run your route so much."

Juan is kind of a hyperactive person.  He is not trying to kiss ass or show off, but he has a lot of restless energy and is always the first carrier to leave the station in the morning.  I don't know how he does it because his route gets a lot of mail, but if he is not the first one on the street he is always in the top two.  People like Juan can be frustrating because, whether they intend to or not, sometimes they make the rest of us look bad.

Joe, on the other hand, is rather leisurely in his approach to mail delivery.  Some would say he "milks it," an expression we use in our local San Diego mailman vernacular to refer to people who use more time than they really need to deliver the route.  I think there is one or two "milkers" in every station; and they can be frustrating because, whether they deliberately "milk it" or not, those of us who are busting our butts often have to pick up their slack when we just want to go home and don't really feel like doing extra work.

Another one of Juan's charming features is that he always says what is on his mind and consequences be damned.  So his response to Joe's critique of his frenzied work habits was a rather unabashed "Well at least I'm not stealing from the Post Office like you are."

This remark produced a rather stunned chorus of "Ooohs...." among us, and all ears tuned in eagerly to see which way this exchange would go.

Fortunately things did not get out of control.  Joe uttered a few more derisive comments in a low voice that I couldn't really hear too well, and then Juan wrapped things up by saying something along the lines of "Well, you know I just call them the way I see them."  I heard the two chatting amicably later on, so I think it really just amounted to a little baring of the teeth to check for signs of weakness, with little or no harm done.

I think every Post Office across the country has runners like Juan and robbers like Joe at each extreme, then everybody else in the middle who is either a semi runner or a sometimes robber or various combinations thereof.  There are days when all of us rob a little bit, but this is just payback for the running we do on the other days, so it evens outs.

The question I have is why we have to go at each other's throats like this, to the undisguised pleasure of management.  I have to admit that I'm somewhat of a runner too, but this isn't to get points, it's only because I like to get the job done.  If I drag my feet I find myself slipping into a coma and throwing the mail in the wrong boxes because I'm lost in a daydream.  But even though I consider myself a hard worker, I really don't care if you are not.  That's none of my business.  That's between you, the Postal Service, and whatever Supreme Being you call God, religious or otherwise.

In the past people have gotten on my case for working too hard, and this tends to bother me.  I believe in the mantra of an honest day's work for an honest day's pay and despite what some of the robbers think, I don't cheat.  I don't skip my lunch and breaks because, quite frankly, I don't have to.

There doesn't need to be discord between the robbers and the runners.  We get enough grief from Management as it is and there is no cause to add to that by clawing at each other's throats.  And please remember that sometimes the people we assume are runners are not really milking it as bad as we think.  For example, I used to think the carrier who had my route before me was a robber, but then when I took over I found out the route really was somewhat of a be-atch, so now I kind of regret my negative thoughts.

Incidentally this so-called "robbers" customers loved him. That's something I hope I can measure up to, and is really what it is all about, don't you think?

Picture is my own, for a change.

The Postal Tsunami is actually a massive wave of Starbuck's black coffee, which is woefully expensive.  I have no say in picking the ads here, but unless they completely annoy or offend you, please investigate what my sponsors in the right sidebar and down below have to say.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The De-Donahoeization of the Postal Service - Will the Reign of Megan "Grumpy Cat" Brennan be Business as Usual?

By Mel Carriere

When Russian dictator Josef Stalin finally gave up the ghost in 1953 there followed what was known as a De-Stalinization period, during which some of the tyrant's most abominable and disgraceful human rights abuses were ended, including large scale forced labor.  Now I know many of my postal pals out there will claim that forced labor is still in effect in the USPS, especially when working 10-12 hour days in the snow, implying that the Postal Service is not much better than Soviet Russia.  This may actually be close to the truth, because there are other similarities between the Post Office and the now defunct Soviet Union that have manifest themselves since the departure of Pat Donahoe and the swearing in of new PMG Megan Brennan.

In particular, the USPS is now undergoing its own De-Stalinization period, specifically known as De-Donahoeization, during which postal employees across the width and breadth of the land are breathlessly waiting to see if the policies of new Postmaster General Megan Brennan will be more enlightened, rational, and beneficial for the long term health of the agency than those of her now "retired" predecessor.

If looks alone could predict the future, I would say that we are all in trouble.  The picture you see above, comparing Megan Brennan to the famous Internet meme "Grumpy Cat" is in widespread circulation on Facebook, and I pulled this example off of the NALC Facebook page to help make my point.  I don't know who originally posted this pic but it was brilliantly done, even if it may ominously foretell a strenuous uphill battle we have ahead of us to preserve our organization in some semblance of its present form, for the sake of the economic well being of the organization's employees and the American people in general.

If you ask me, even though the lady just started she already looks overwhelmed.  The unmistakable bags under her eyes speak volumes about what she is up against.  I don't envy the heavy load of responsibility she carries upon her shoulders; I certainly wouldn't want the job, but I question whether she is equipped to handle the burden and whether or not the course she steers as the new Captain of the ship will vary significantly from the man who used to command on the bridge?  Will she be Columbus guiding us to a happy New World with unlimited possibilities, or will she turn out to be another Edward Smith, the infamous skipper who drove the Titanic into an iceberg?

What the De-Donahoeization process should consist of is ending the "Network Rationalization" mail processing plant closures, bringing back First Class Mail delivery standards to where they were before the January 5th change slowed down mail for millions of Americans, and ending the crusade against the elimination of Saturday delivery.

But it did not take long for the new Postmaster General to demonstrate that what De-Donahoeization really means is that she intends to steam along the same destructive penny-wise dollar foolish course plotted by her predecessor.  Despite cheery messages to postal employees that the Postal Service is now going to be all about people, she has not signaled that there will be any changes to the Obama-endorsed plan to cut Saturday delivery.  She is also full steam ahead with the 82 plant closures scheduled for 2015, meaning that if she intends to be about people, she means postal people who are either unemployed or relocated dozens or hundreds of miles from their homes.  Or perhaps she means dissatisfied customer people waiting impatiently by their mailboxes for checks and other important documents sent via first class mail, items that used to arrive in a timely manner but from here on out are going to be two or three days late.  

If these are the kind of people that Megan Brennan is all about, then I'm afraid the De-Donahoeization of the Postal Service means business as usual.  The photo attached to the title of Postmaster General of the United States certainly has not become easier on the eyes, and I'm afraid "Grumpy Cat's" status-quo policies do not bode well for our future either.

Above photo taken from the NALC Facebook page.  Original author unknown.

The Postal Tsunami is actually a massive wave of Starbuck's black coffee, which is woefully expensive.  I have no say in picking the ads here, but unless they completely annoy or offend you, please investigate what my sponsors in the right sidebar and down below have to say.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Death of First Class Mail - That's not how any of this Works

By Mel Carriere

Maybe it's just me - I'm not an economics major after all, but I can't understand the business model behind taking a premium product, the one that brings in the largest amount of income by far, and deliberately destroying it.  Imagine, if you will, a fast food chain announcing that they are going to increase the drive-thru time so that customers will have to wait for their hamburgers longer, or Microsoft saying that they are going to create a slower operating system in order to save money.  Maybe tomorrow the GEICO lizard will declare in his odd Cockney accent that it will now take you 20 minutes instead of 15 to buy car insurance.  It's even weirder when the organization proclaims that this measure will somehow save the business.  You don't need to be a business major, and you don't need the lady on the Esurance commercial to tell you that that's not how any of this works.

I thought I was the only one to notice that first class mail really has been slowing down since January fifth of the current year, when the delivery standards were reduced from 1-2 days to 1-3 days.  I actually think 1 to 3 days is incredibly optimistic.  From personal experience, it seems like 1 to 5 days plus would be a more realistic evaluation for how first class mail has been performing since Postal Management, in its infinite wisdom, killed the one product that is barely keeping it solvent.

I have some first hand anecdotal evidence about how first class mail is doing since the change, but the anecdotes are being increasingly backed up by news that Washington is being bombarded by complaints from people who have been getting their mail on time for the last 40 years and now all of the sudden open their mailboxes not to find a check that has always been there on a particular day or not to find a bill that is way past due.

The first incident in my collection of anecdotes took place the day before the Martin Luther King holiday, when a lady on my route told me that she was missing a check from Texas that arrived like clockwork a particular day of the month.  Shortly after this my son's student loan check arrived five days late, putting him in temporary crisis mode as he fretted over how he was going to pay his rent.  Then last Monday another customer on my route, expecting still another check from Texas, was left without funds for several days by this unexpected and unanticipated delay with the mail.

I know that this is not just me and my customers that this is happening to, because lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been pushing for the Postal Service to bring first class mail standards back to where they were before these unwise changes were initiated.  Senator Jon Tester from Montana recently got up in the new Postmaster General's face and read her the riot act on behalf of his mostly rural constituents, for whom the Postal Service is not just an optional convenience, but a lifeline.

Why this penny-wise, dollar foolish policy was enacted in the first place is beyond me.  It's not like First Class Mail doesn't have any rivals anymore so we can just flaunt our monopoly in the public's face and say "screw you the check's in the mail."  It's not like competing services like the Internet, email, online bill pay, etc., don't exist.  Perhaps this move might have made sense in the days before the telegraph, which would have been about 1832, at the time when snail mail was the one and only means of communication outside of yelling across the street, yodeling across a mountain valley, or using smoke signals to tell your tribe to come on in it's time for lunch.  But nowadays, in the so-called modern era, when it seems like first class mail may be making a rebound in popularity due to the prevalence of identity theft and computer hacks, the Postal brain trust has decided to disconnect the patient from the life support machine just when the vital signs are improving.

It's mystifying to me, and the only reason to explain the decision is too horrible to contemplate, because it means that there are forces at work which conspire to bring down this fantastically reliable mail delivery system of ours.  As the lady shaking her head over the collection of photos hanging on her friends "wall" declared, "That's not how any of this works," but how many of our once faithful customers will unfriend us before the message finally sinks in, postal management swallows its unhealthy, unproductive pride, and we put things back to the way they were before.

Image from:

Read More by Mel on the Death of First Class Mail