Thursday, July 30, 2015

Things Not to Say (Or Do) to Your Letter Carrier on Their Lunchbreak

By Mel Carriere

On my blog header you can now see me stoically staring down the onrushing, coastal ravaging Postal Tsunami that obliterates everything in its path, thanks to some Photo shopping by my son, who trembles under the constant threat of being disinherited of the few pennies I have in my pocket if he doesn't comply with all of my silly, arbitrary, practically unintelligible requests. I don't know if you can actually see the new photo header on your phone, but if you go to your laptop; or if you are one of the few dinosaurs who still uses a desktop model you can see it there, and God bless you for looking and for using antiquated technology.

Today's topic is letter carrier lunches, a subject I think is near and dear to the heart of those of us who swing the satchel for a living, because lunch is that one precious half hour in an otherwise frenzied, feverishly paced, oppressively overburdened day where we can flip the bird at the world and say "Leave me alone I don't get paid for this." I eat my daily lunch in the same fairly secluded place where I am largely out of view of postal customers and supervisors alike. 22 years in this business, however, has taught me that if there is one thing that the sometimes mentally deficient, letter carrier annoying public is good at is finding ingenious ways to ruin our lunch.  Something tells me that if we could manage to haul our huffing and puffing little LLVs to the top of Everest to take this half hour midday break, thinking we would be safely secluded there, some determined customer from the wrong zip code carrying a 3575 notice left would find a way to scale the sheer ice cliffs with no ropes and no oxygen to ask if we have his package.

A large percentage of these lunch wrecking, peace perturbing customers are well meaning busybodies who perhaps are under the misguided impression that being a government employee means that they pay our salaries, which of course gives them the constitutional right to interrupt the lunch that they don't really pay for, even if we did get paid for it, which we don't.  On the other hand, other lunch wreckers are just meddling, bombastic jerks with nothing better to do than harass people.  The following list of what not to say to do to your letter carrier on his/her lunch break deals with both of these types, and I'm sure you can think of many more clever things not to say or do to you at lunch, which I invite you to share in the comments below.

Please don't say (or do) the following to me on my UNPAID lunch:
  • Can I get my mail?  I know you think you pay my salary, and I know you think I'm just wasting your time and taxpayer money lounging beneath my favorite tree, but no I am not going to cut my unpaid lunch break five minutes short or more to dig through the flats, parcels and DPS to pull out your mail, unless you are one of my favorite customers - which, chances are, if you are doing something like this you are probably not.  One lunch wrecker who somehow suckered me into digging through piles of mail in the back of the LLV swore he was going out of town immediately on an emergency and it was a matter of life or death that he cash his check now.  The very next day he was back requesting the same thing, apparently having teleported, hyperspaced, or astrally projected back from the one crisis, and now immediately needed his mail again to deal with another.  
  •  Do you have my package?  A couple of weeks ago a customer from the next route over accosted me in the blissful Eden beneath my peaceful postal lunch tree and rather rudely insisted that I had his package.  "What is your address?" I asked, trying to hold my tongue in check and be nice.  He told me his address and I responded that no, I didn't have his package, to which he angrily insisted that yes, I did have it because the tracking number said so.  "Yeah, but you have the wrong mailman," I answered, pointing to the sign at the corner, where my route and the neighboring letter carrier's intersect.  "Well, what time does he get here?" he asked with an annoyed scowl.  "No idea," I said, and kept munching.  I knew, more or less, but I didn't feel like telling him.  That's what you get for being a douche.
  • Aren't you supposed to be working?  A lot of postal customers don't actually say this, but I can read it in their faces as they deliberately buzz my LLV with their cars to try to scare me into cutting my lunch short so they can get their mail a couple minutes earlier.  One time some kids on scooters came by and actually did ask me this question, but in a way they indicated that they thought it was cool I was being sneaky and hiding from the boss - kids can appreciate sneakiness if anybody can.  "Yeah, but don't tell anybody," I answered, and my little co-conspirators scootered away with big grins on their faces, delighted that I had let them in on the secret.  But only kids get to ask this question.  If you are over the age of say 12 and you have the audacity to ask me this I'm putting your mail on permanent dog hold, even if you don't have one.
  •  Can you get out of the truck?  What really irks me is when some lady or gentleman who is either overly portly, lazy, or both comes by with a letter to mail when I'm eating and expects me to jump out of the LLV to fetch it.  Now, the one thing I don't mind doing when I'm lunch is taking your letter from you; unless it comes with tediously stupid questions affixed where the stamp should be, and I'll even take a couple steps out of my way to retrieve your letter WHEN I'M ON THE CLOCK.  But don't think your little mail boy is going to cut short his precious UNPAID half hour (I just can't stress unpaid enough) so you don't have to bother to put your rather over-sized, jiggling buttocks in motion. Therefore, don't be surprised when I pretend I don't see you and drive away, meaning you'll have to haul your rather pathetically inert carcass all the way to the post office after all.
  •  AND ABOVE ALL NEVER SAY:  I hate to bother you on your lunch break but...If you say this I'll know you are a lying, worthless sack, because if you really hated to bother me you would have waited until my lunch was over to bother me.  One fellow who "hated to bother me" did so because I forgot to put the flag back down on a mailbox two blocks over.  He walked those two blocks - in the rain, no less, to resolutely deal with the imminent doom that this postal crisis threat to the free world portended.  I just let him stand there and soak for a minute, then asked him if he wanted a Dorito.
So please don't perturb your Palm Tree Postman while he is blissfully ensconced in the shady, inviolable, sacrosanct confines of his lunchtime temple. We letter carriers across America go out of our way to make you happy; sometimes doing things that are technically not even within postal regulations if we really like you, but grant us this little unpaid half hour of peace, please.

More by Mel on bad Postal Customers here

 The Postal Tsunami gains its coastal destroying power with copious amounts of Starbuck's coffee,  which is not cheap.  Unless they completely annoy or offend you, please take a look at what my blog sponsors on this page have to say.  I have removed Amazon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More on how Planet Postal Revolves Around Amazon - Still Beating this not Quite Dead Horse

 By Mel Carriere

We should all give thanks to whatever postal gods we pray to that we work for an organization in which our unions still protect their workers against the most extreme abuses, however quaint and antiquated that concept seems.  It seems like we are slowly and insidiously being taken over, however, by a company that treats its human resources as if they were disposable, automated cogs on the production line, and I guess you figured out by the title that I'm talking about Amazon, again.  I'm sorry to beat a dead horse, but the horse is not really as close to kicking off as you think. Every day I go to work reminds me that it is alive and kicking and ready to buck me off into a steaming pile of Bezos' royal manure if I miss a scan, or, heaven forbid,  bring back one of Jeff Bezos' precious parcels for any reason other than maybe the house burned down.  Even then, I think a letter carrier is better off throwing the parcel on top of the smouldering ashes than risking the wrath of some Bezos-brainwashed supervisor by taking it back to the Post Office.

If Jeff Bezos had a not quite dead horse to beat like me, you bet he would flog that animal mercilessly for not making production quotas.  He has already started to sneak his heavy handed, 19th century style management into the postal service, which became clear to me on Tuesday during a stand up talk that had me shaking my cranium like a cheap ballpark bobble head doll manufactured in some Vietnamese sweat shop. If you read my previous July 16th blog on the subject then you are aware I was already amazed by how all other classes of mail are subordinated to the Amazon shipment, but now I understand that the health and safety of Postal employees is also to be sacrificed so that Prime arrives on time.

To my great astonishment, after she finished berating us in aforementioned stand-up talk about our poor scanning performance, our station manager added, by way of afterthought, that Amazon expects its packages to be delivered at all costs.  To quote the boss, Amazon doesn't care if the delivery point is blocked or is unsafe.  By implication, she was saying that we as postal employees shouldn't let little nuisances like our own safety get in the way of somehow getting that box past ten snarling pit bulls, through an impassable mesh of sticky spider webs that haven't been cleared since the first Bush was president, over a pile of broken beer bottles and rusty car parts and onto the front porch.  She didn't explain how we are supposed to handle the impossible logistics of this but shooed us back to work before anybody could ask any complicated questions.  We have some old timers in our station that ask some really complicated, tiresome questions, and she knows this.

So now it seems our Postal managers are starting to ape Jeff Bezos' style, and from what I've read about Bezos this is a disturbing trend.  An article on entitled "Worse than Wal-Mart:  Amazon's sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers" tells you everything you need to know just from the name.  According to this story by Simon Head, Amazon's work floor management principles are a 21st century relic of a 19th philosophy called Taylorism.  The Taylorism mindset includes ruthlessly increasing employee productivity targets until they are almost impossible to meet - meaning older, slower workhorses like your dear blogger will be put out to pasture, oppressive employee monitoring via satellite navigation computers - signifying that if you don't get back from the potty in time you're in big trouble, clipboard carrying foremen like the all seeing eyes of Big Brother stationed everywhere in the warehouse to prevent "time theft," and a merciless production tempo that includes hustling across the production floor 13 to 15 miles a day at a pace that would snuff out your satchel swinging ass in no time at all.  I'll post a link to this article and I think you should read it, because if you work for the Post Office it just may apply to you, I am sorry to say.

Secret inside sources for the Tsunami confirm my suspicion that Jeff Bezos really does have his meddling fingers deep in the Postal production gears, and even has a voice in our hiring practices.  According to one Tsunami insider, in postal test sites for the Amazon Fresh grocery shipping program, offices are seriously exceeding the contract-mandated City Carrier Assistant (CCA) cap, and CCAs are being trained at the rate of 8 per day at one office in particular.  This, apparently, at Bezos' behest that only CCAs deliver the Amazon Fresh packages.

So you see that this horse on my route  up there, which I am relentlessly beating with this Prime parcel, is not quite dead yet.  Therefore, I will continue to hammer on it until I see proof that Amazon is no longer running our postal operations, or until I am shipped off to the great Postal glue factory myself.  If Bezos continues to get his way, that might not be as far off as we think. Older workers on his Amazon assembly line from hell routinely get put out to pasture, so don't think he's not thinking about replacing the tired old nag you are with some young stud CCA, if he can.  And just in case you PETA people are freaking out about the perceived equine abuse here, no horses were actually injured during the production of this blog, or flogged with any Prime packages.

 Read about Amazon's abusive workplace practices here

 The Postal Tsunami gains its coastal destroying power with copious amounts of Starbuck's coffee,  which is not cheap.  Unless they completely annoy or offend you, please take a look at what my blog sponsors on this page have to say.  I have removed Amazon.

Bezos image from:

Horse photo from me.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Amazon Gets what Amazon Wants - Will the Real Postmaster General Please Stand Up?

By Mel Carriere

Do any of you out there getting kind of long in the tooth, like me, remember that 70s game show called To Tell the Truth?  I used to watch that show every afternoon.  For you youngsters in attendance, the program consisted of three contestants pretending to be the same person noted for some famous or infamous distinction, but two of these contestants were impostors and one was the real deal.  Three or four "celebrity" panelists on the show would ask the contestants questions and then try and guess who the real person was.  Seems like Kitty Carlisle was always one of these celebrity panelists.  I don't know what she was famous for to begin with, but she was a celebrity panelist on everything.  Of course I digress, but after the questioning was over the  host would say in very dramatic fashion "Will the real --- please stand up?"

Recent events in our little post office made me think of a Postal version of To Tell the Truth.  I guess we would have to exhume Kitty Carlisle and Peggy Cass (another professional celebrity panelist) to do this, which could be problematic, but here's how the game will go.  We'll get Megan Brennan, our current titular Postmaster, retired PMG Pat Donahoe, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos - who doesn't have anything to do with the Postal Service but it sure seems like he does, to serve as contestants and then see if our distinguished panelists can figure out who the real Postmaster General of the United States is from among these three.  Don't turn the channel - the answer isn't as obvious as it seems.

I include Pat Donahoe as one of the contestants because, judging from the way that Megan Brennan tenaciously clings to his misguided, boneheaded policies it seems like he's still in there running the organization, despite her vow to "keep mail relevant" and all that.  And I threw Jeff Bezos into the mix because the obsequious urgency with which the USPS bends over backwards to make sure his Amazon packages get delivered and to the devil with everything else makes it look like he really could be the one calling the shots.  Our panelists, in their various degrees of decay and mortification, are really going to have their work cut out for them.

My confusion over who the real PMG is began last Tuesday, when the Amazon shipment didn't show up on time.  After we clocked in, the supervisor informed us that Amazon was not yet in the building, but she said that if they didn't make their 8 AM cutoff time we were just going to leave these packages for tomorrow.  That sounded reasonable, everybody's got to play by the rules.

Guess what - As it turns out Amazon doesn't have a cutoff time!  Amazon finally rolled in about 8:30, after most of us had already pulled down and were getting ready to hit the street.  After some heated discussion around the telephone which probably included a good browbeating by some hot-shot upstairs, our supervisors instructed us to roll our parcel hampers back to their assigned places and punch onto 734 until the clerks finished throwing the Amazon.

Last year this time I don't think very many letter carriers would have been grumbling about this.  At that time our organization was still emerging from a prolonged slump, and I think we were just happy to get business from wherever we could.

But over the course of the past year or so, it seems like Jeff Bezos has been wriggling his far reaching hands into the postal gears more and more, and it's starting to look now that our operations revolve exclusively around trying to keep him happy.  

I had thought that the road toward complete Amazon appeasement culminated when Bezos got Sunday as his private delivery day.  But just like Hitler kept going after England and France gave him Czechoslovakia, apparently Jeff now expects that all postal operations will be subordinated to the plastic wrapped Amazon shipment on the back dock, no matter what time it drops in.

Last time I checked, first class mail still represented the biggest chunk of postal revenue.  I have the Q2 report on my computer, and if I'm reading it right, first class mail is still about 43% of total revenue.  On the other hand, total "Competitive" Mail (meaning revenue from parcels), is roughly 22 percent, and priority mail brings in about half of that.  I can't even find Amazon as an individual line item on the report.  The point I'm making is that even though the first class product has declined it is still our exclusive bread and butter, the one revenue source that we and nobody else has a right to.  In spite of this, first class mail is now routinely delayed, and overnight delivery of local first class mail may be nothing more than a curious relic in the postal museum, right next to the Pony Express exhibit.

So even though Jeff Bezos doesn't even command his own line item on the financial report, the organization literally grinds to a halt and carriers are dragged back in from  the parking lot and put to twiddling their thumbs on 734 time to keep him happy, this despite his company not being much more than a floating log in our total revenue stream.  Customer service suffers so Amazon can have first crack, and vital mail items that we are legally mandated to deliver in a timely manner, per the woefully neglected "Service" component of our organization's title, get stashed in a shadowy corner of the local P&DC so that "Prime" can land on the doorstep overnight.  

I haven't counted how many times a supervisor told has us to take the late first class mail for a ride and hide it in the 3M case when we get back from the street, but you bring back one missed Amazon parcel back from the street and guess what?  Your little blue butt is going back out again to deliver it.

So now we come to the defining moment of our Postal version of To Tell the Truth, the one that you the studio audience has anxiously awaited after listening to our dead panelists fire off their list of keenly articulated questions at our contestants; Mr. Donahoe, Ms. Brennan, and Mr. Bezos.  In breathtaking fashion, our host now gives the famous command that is the signature moment of the program:  "Will the real Postmaster General of the United States of America please stand up!"  The audience takes a deep breath and oohs and aahs as the impostors deliberately heighten the emotion in the studio by falsely shifting and stirring in their chairs.  Then the real PMG rises up.

I'll let you guess who that is.  Thanks for tuning in.

Read Jeff Bezos' Mein Kampf

 The Postal Tsunami gains its coastal destroying power with copious amounts of Starbuck's coffee,  which is not cheap.  Unless they completely annoy or offend you, please take a look at what my blog sponsors on this page have to say.

Image a compilation of a photo of Megan Brennan from and a photo of Jeff Bezos from  "Jeff Bezos' iconic laugh" by Steve Jurvetson - Flickr: Bezos’ Iconic Laugh. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Doug Hughes the Flying Mailman - Madman or Martyr?

By Mel Carriere

I can't precisely remember where I was when I first heard some nutbag had crashed on the Capitol lawn in a Gyrocopter, whatever that is.  On the contrary, I will always recall exactly my exact location when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, when the 9/11 attacks were announced, even when they finally got Osama. But to me the Doug Hughes report of last April 15 was just another in a string of half-heard mundane news items  that you forget about as soon as you hear them.  I even wondered if it wasn't just some lame Jeff Bezos stunt to demonstrate the delivery power of his Amazon Air Force!

Neither was I particularly thrilled to learn, sometime later, that this psycho pilot on a flying bicycle was a letter carrier.  In fact, I think I shook my head and rolled my eyes a little, thinking that's all we need, another screwball in a postal uniform to deepen the public perception that postal employees are just overpaid malcontent misfits who can't play well with the other kids.

Little by little I finally learned the truth about Doug Hughes, but it didn't happen right away, probably because it took a while for the details of his assault on US Capitol corruption and cronyism to be sorted out and trickle down the news pipeline.  One of the details I didn't know right away was that he had written a letter to all 535 members of Congress.  This was another eye-rolling moment, because  I assumed it was something along the lines of the letters celebrity stalkers write to their famous crushes, full of incoherent rants and half baked paranoid delusions.  I tuned it all out; glad that at the very least he had not killed or injured anybody.  Then I swept the whole mess into my mental file that that includes the deranged fence jumper that assaulted the White House with a knife last September 20th, and asked myself what he hell is going on with the Washington DC security?

Eventually the details of Doug Hughes' impassioned manifesto came out, and I began to wonder if he really was a kook or a danger to society after all.  Because we blog writers are always trolling for ideas and a lot of times there's just nothing biting in the mental waters that we go fishing in, I decided I would write an article about this flying mailman, as much for my own edification, to learn what he really stood for, as well as for the entertainment and education of my blog audience.

The more I dug into the life of the flying mailman from Florida and the details of his aerial assault on Washington, the more I realized the precision of his planning and the depth of his intellect.  Yes, Doug pulled off a magnificent stunt in catching Washington with its pants down, but Mr. Hughes was not a mere circus clown making a mockery of the DC authorities as he whisked through the air defenses of our nation's capital unopposed.  His was a carefully conceived and executed act of civil disobedience, two and a half years in the making, and he has specifically enumerated and well defined grievances that inspired the flight, ideas that we should all pay attention to.

What Doug Hughes was trying to tell us, and what we should all start to take seriously before it completely destroys us, is that Congress is on the take.  Democrats and Republicans alike are both in the back pockets of corporations, and even though the amount of money our lawmakers can accept from individual campaign donors is restricted by law, the promise of a cushy lobbyist job paying 14 times Congressional salary upon leaving Congress is pretty good incentive for the crooks of Capitol Hill to betray their constituents in favor of the deep pockets of their corporate overlords.

I won't make any attempt to paraphrase Doug's ideas here.  He is a very learned, articulate gentleman who is more than capable of speaking for himself, so you should read what he has to say in his own words.  With this in mind, I am going to post a link to Doug's website, and also a link to the copy of his letter to Congress.  There is also a place you can go to donate to his defense fund.  I encourage you to do so, because our Mailman brother from Florida who really did deliver to the Capitol lawn faces 9 years in prison just for telling the truth.   

Yeah, but come on Mel, there are other avenues to do this, you say.  You don't have to jump on some weird airborne gizmo and scare the hell out of people who think ISIS is carrying out a terror attack by dropping in on propeller beanie hats.  In response to this, I say that a lot of people, such as myself, constantly wear ourselves out trying to point out this corruption through more conventional means, such as our facebook pages, twitter feeds, and blogs, but NO ONE F---ING LISTENS!

The flying mailman knew that the only way to get people to wake up and pay attention to the problems in Washington was to do something weird, unexpected, and perhaps a little bit frightening.  Don't let Doug's flight be for nothing.  Please read what he has to say, and then support him.

Click here to visit Doug's Democracy Club

Click here to donate to Doug's defense

Click here to read Doug's letter to Congress

Neil Young: Another great voice of protest from the past:


Image from:

 The Postal Tsunami gains its coastal destroying power with copious amounts of Starbuck's coffee,  which is not cheap.  Unless they completely annoy or offend you, please take a look at what my blog sponsors on this page have to say.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mailman Myths - "Why Don't Dogs Like the Letter Carrier?"

By Mel Carriere

No matter how hard letter carriers try to rectify the fallacy, the public persists in the prevarication that pooches are predisposed to possess prejudicial perceptions about postal people.  In my daily rounds, I frequently encounter postal customers who try to excuse their dog's bad behavior by maintaining that all dogs dislike the mailman, that there is, without a doubt, some built in biological mechanism, perhaps a mutated strand in the doggy DNA, that instinctively sends dogs into aggressive defense mode whenever anyone wearing the blue uniform walks by.  Of course letter carriers know this is not true, it is in fact plain nonsense.  Although there may be a few rotten apples in the canine fruit basket, if a pooch poll could somehow be taken the overwhelming sentiment among America's dogs would be complete, unconditional love toward whatever mailman or mail-lady serves their particular neighborhood.

Not surprisingly, the postal customers who persist in this false belief that all dogs hate the mailman are those who have aggressive dogs, and are perhaps carrying out a preemptive strike in defense of their own misanthropic mutt by sneakily shifting the blame back on you.  In other words, if you weren't such a MAILMAN my dog would be spinning around in tail chasing circles of joy every time you walked by. 

The reason why I bring this up is because today, as I was handing a couple of packages across the fence to a customer, he had the audacity to justify the uncontrollable barking of his bad mannered boxer by saying "I don't know why all dogs hate the mailman."

It is extremely wearisome to me when I hear these words, because they are just not true, and they always prompt me to defend the special relationship between the letter carrier and his or her army of four legged, tail wagging fans.

"Dogs don't dislike us," I said, trying not to sound too surly.  "It just takes a while for them to get used to us, sometimes."

In response he gave me that tolerant, father to child yeah right, you don't know what the hell you're talking about look, and seeing no point in trying to press the issue, keeping in mind the Mark Twain axiom not to argue with stupid people (they will drag you down to their level then beat you with experience), I walked on.

There is a special flavor of this misconception espoused by postal customers who pretend to have secret insights into dog behavior.  Regular dog whisperers, these folks, as if they could ever challenge an experienced letter carrier in the field of doggy psychology.  More than once I have heard a customer espouse the bogus theory that "The reason why dogs bark at the mailman is because after they bark the mailman goes away, meaning to them that they have successfully defended their territory, which results in future barking at the mailman."

Yeah, and then what happens when the mailman comes back the next day, and the next, and then the next, for hundreds even thousands of endless days without end.  In your face bitch!  You thought you chased me away but now I'm back!  If this theory is correct then the mailman must be like a horror movie in the canine mind, one where you keep killing Jason, Freddy or Michael Myers but he keeps rising from the dead and coming back to haunt you.  Come on people, the dog barks at everybody that walks by, mailman or not, not because they get a thrill out of it but because they are programmed to bark at people they don't know.

Another popular theory in circulation among the postal public is that the only way a dog could ever love the letter carrier is if that letter carrier feeds them.  I have even come across certain customers who provide a little basket of dog biscuits on the front porch to help the process along, thinking that this little spark is essential to kindle the love affair between dog and mailman.

Again, utter nonsense.  Although I confess I used to carry a box of dog treats in my bag, years ago I decided that if the dogs are going to love me, they have to love me for who I am, not for what I give them.  Okay, my wife who knows me quite well will tell you that my personal qualities don't quite cut it, that only a constant downpour of bribes has convinced her to stay with me for nearly 25 years, but contrary to one negative opinion, dozens of dogs throughout the years have learned to love me for my charming personality, without a single feeding to influence this affection.

Case in point is the dog you see above, a shaggy little Schnauzer who was quite friendly toward me from day one, even though I was only the T-6.  This dog loved the regular too.  In fact, she only liked letter carriers, and would bark ferociously at everybody else who wasn't wearing a postal uniform.  When I would bring along CCA trainees on this route who were wearing civilian clothes, the dog would bark at them too.

To sum it up, dogs love us.  They love us when the mail is late, they love us whether or not the check or package the people in the house were expecting arrived, they are happy to see us even when the owner isn't exactly wagging his or her tail with joy when we show up.

Have a friend or family member ready to take the postal plunge?  Be prepared!

More Doggy Deliberations by Mel on Hub Pages

The Postal Tsunami gains its coastal destroying power with copious amounts of Starbuck's coffee,  which is not cheap.  Unless they completely annoy or offend you, please take a look at what my blog sponsors on this page have to say.