Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mel and His Shadow Feel the Bern - Tsunami Endorses Sanders for President, 2016

By Mel Carriere

Partisan politics is something I vowed not to take part in some time ago, mostly because political parties usually enshroud themselves in ideology.  I say enshroud, meaning to cover up, because for the most part their ideology is just a cover, without any real teeth behind it.  When push comes to shove and there is a pile of tainted Superpac money being pushed across the table by some hairy knuckle, heavy breathing corporate sleazeball, all that impassioned rhetoric about protecting the little guy gets forgotten on the way to the bank

So I gave up on using ideology to pick presidential candidates.  A quote I love from a book says "ideology is mental murder."  When we straightjacket our thinking with ideology we risk missing out on good ideas just because those evil shysters across the aisle are proposing them. That is why I am trying to renounce ideology altogether and think for myself.  This is not easy, because built in biases and prejudices against those mouth breathing, knuckle dragging baboons over there don't die easily.  But my resolution from now on is to vote out of practically, not ideology, to vote for the man or woman who is going to protect my job, my livelihood.

Usually this means voting for the lesser of two evils.  Usually the candidate you wind up picking is dragging around some pretty rotten, rancid, festering dead bodies in the trunk of the campaign mobile.  Yet because the other guy is hauling his own nasty collection of decaying corpses in plain sight, even propping them up on the podium and tongue kissing them on national TV, we wind up voting for the guy or gal trying to hide their dead bodies because that way we can claim plausible deniability later.  "Hey I never knew about those dead bodies in the trunk!" Yeah right.

The long and short of it is that every presidential election we wind up picking the person we think will do the least damage, not the most good.  Then Bernie Sanders comes along.

The following is a short list of why I and my staff here at the Postal Tsunami, which consists of my shadow, have unanimously decided to endorse Bernie Sanders for president and why, if you are a postal employee. me and my shadow agree he is the only choice that makes sense for you. This was not an overnight decision.  I have to confess I was frightened off by Bernie for a while by some of the scary labels attached to him, but since everybody in this country is a socialist to some degree or another I've gotten over that.  Here are our reasons:

1. Bernie is the first and only candidate who has openly and specifically advocated a strong public postal service - If you google "Bernie Sanders Postal Service" you get a long list of articles either written by Bernie on why he supports the Postal Service, or written about what he has said or done in Congress to help us.  If you do the same for the other candidates, Hilary included, you get about 5 million results but none of them have anything to do with the Postal Service. Sure they want our vote, but none of them care enough about us to defy their anti-postal super pac allies and voice a word in our favor.

2.  Bernie sets the agenda - Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with a set of specific policies he plans to implement, and you can tell he spent a lot of time thinking about these things before he threw his hat in the ring.  Bernie has a plan, man.  The other candidates' platforms consist of responding to things Bernie said, and agreeing that these things are wonderful, but...  His chief rival's platform is basically "I'm better, I'm smarter, It's my turn, and people are ready for me." I will concede that Hilary has way better hair than Bernie, but I'm not sure how much is her own and how much is surgically implanted.

3.  Bernie has passion - While watching reruns of the Democratic debates, my son remarked that "Bernie is full of righteous indignation."  My 23 year old son used the term "righteous indignation" in a complete sentence,  God bless him.  On the other hand, there was nothing righteous or indignant about the other candidates.  Their answers came across as slick, rehearsed, and with an exit strategy.  Furthermore, the other candidates all wore phony smiles, carefully crafted by focus groups, that didn't transmit the idea of indignation in the least.

Bernie's detractors, of course, bring up some points about why he shouldn't be nominated for President.  Here are a couple:

1.  He's too old - I don't see why this matters.  At age 74, this supposedly old and enfeebled Bernie is still smarter and more vigorous than the rest of the uninspiring bunch.  Can you imagine what a dynamo Bernie must have been at age 40?  It must have been mentally exhausting to sit across a table from him.

2.  He is unelectable - According to this theory, a primary vote for Bernie is a wasted vote because, even if he does get the nomination, he doesn't have the right stuff in the eyes of the American people to be elected President.  In response to this I say hogwash.  Bernie is receiving more individual donations than any other candidate,  last I heard.  Who will he run against, anyway, if he does get the nomination?  Fluffy hair, flapping lips Donald Trump?  Bernie will eat him for lunch.

So that is why the Tsunami supports Bernie Sanders, and urges our Union to do the same.  I hope the NALC can resist political backroom bullying from "mainstream" Democrats and get behind the man that the rank and file membership knows will unequivocally support their interests at every turn.  Bernie is a veritable political tsunami, sweeping away everything and everyone in his path.  Feel the Bern - 2016.

 Bigger, longer, uncut Bernie by Mel on Hub Pages

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Watch Your Fingers - Carlsbad Mailman's Bird Comes Home to Roost

By Mel Carriere

Postal fingers are sensitive things, and a sensitive topic.  Whether you work in the plant, drive a truck, sort scheme, work the window, or deliver on the street, your fingers are important to you.  As a letter carrier out here in Carlsbad, California demonstrated so effectively with a little incident that occurred in early October, postal workers who deal with customers sometimes need their fingers for activities other than mail processing.  I know it isn't on the flow chart, but the middle finger can come in handy.  As The Trashmen sang in 1963, the bird is the word.  Problem is everybody has a camera these days, and if you don't want to wind up on the Channel 10 news you have to be very careful and use that birdy finger judiciously.

There are multiple uses for fingers that we all engage them in every day.  Thumbs are fingers too, and thumbs can be important signalling devices.  Sometimes as I am going about my daily rounds I stop and give a thumbs up to a little kid who comes out to thank me for the mail.  You can't waste words in the 100 degree Santa Ana October heat.  Funny how different fingers, or combinations or configurations of fingers, can mean different things.  As I said the thumbs up is a very good thing, whereas simply flipping that thumb around 180 degrees to a thumbs down can get you in trouble, especially if you are a movie reviewer and an unstable actor like Russell Crowe comes in swinging a telephone at you because he didn't appreciate your upside down digit.  Different combinations of fingers communicate different ideas.  Five fingers held up together to join another person's five outstretched fingers signifies approval, support, or solidarity.  Raising your little finger and index finger while leaving the two middle ones in a down position is a gang sign, however, and could get you shot in certain neighborhoods.

Finger communication used to be a good way to signal your truest, most heartfelt emotions and then deny everything later.  Words have staying power, fingers have plausible deniability.  "I was scratching my nose," you could always say in the past, "and when I was in the process of lifting my finger they got confused and thought I was flippin' the bird." 

Plausible deniability is getting tougher every day, because now everybody has a smart phone with a camera.  Earlier this year, the day I got back from vacation, a customer took a video of her harassing me at the mailbox, claiming I had misdelivered her mail.  I finally gave up and gave her a 3575 with the 800 number on it, because I knew she wouldn't be smart enough to remember it by herself.  Some people can't spell A-S-K, and they get confused when I tell them.  She claimed I slapped her with that 3575, which was utter nonsense.  She took the supposedly damning video into the Post Office, probably expecting they would either pay her off or at least  fire me immediately.  The video backfired on her.  We had a tough female manager at the time; the only one we have had with any real balls. She looked at the video, told the customer to stop harassing her carriers, then chased her out of the building.  I have never heard from that customer again.

I have seen the TV news report about the encounter that now famous Carlsbad letter carrier had with a customer, but unlike the general public, being a letter carrier allows me to read between the lines.  The carrier was parked in the red zone in front of the mail boxes, but where the hell else is he supposed to park?  Do the customers expect him to park half a block away to drop off three or four boxes?  Okay, maybe he blocked their car in for a second, but how long did they think he was going to be there?  Can't they chill for a few seconds while he finishes delivering THEIR mail?  To me it looked like the customers were setting him up because they wanted their fifteen minutes of fame, and unlucky for the carrier it happened to be a slow news day.

Unfortunately this mailman's middle finger got carried away, and it was caught for posterity.  Now his bird has flown and come home to roost all at once, though it was mysteriously blurred.  That blur could be anything, I would claim.  Could have been a peace sign.  Could have been a "You're number one."  Fingers have a mind of their own, I would tell the boss, you never know what they're going to say next, darn little buggers.

What do you think - Watch the video

CCA Stumbling Blocks - More by Mel on Hub Pages

 The Postal Tsunami derives its coastal destroying power through 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.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Eye in the Sky - A Postal Blowhard Speaks on Authorized Lunch Spots

By Mel Carriere

From Mel's Postal Dictionary:

Blowhard - a bag of wind of the high temperature variety, usually visibly bloated, commonly inflated by a belief that its talents and intelligence level are responsible for its elevated position in the workplace hierarchy, but more often than not occupies its present position because they couldn't find another butt to fill the seat.

There, you see, I could have been a lexicographer instead of mailman because I can write dictionary definitions like nobody's business.  So here is your ever humble Mel to report on blowhards and other topics at the end of physical year 2015, which up until recently I thought was fiscal year, until my error was pointed out Wednesday, the last day of the physical year, by a supervisor who is obviously smarter than the rest of us, thank God, and that's why she's in charge.  She kept saying physical year over and over again, so after the stand up talk, having realized I had everything mixed up, I walked back to my case singing Olivia Newton Jaundice Let's get Fiscal, thinking about how Zed Leppelin's Fiscal Grafitti was my favorite rock album of 1975, and worrying over the impending fiscal I had to get at the doctor's office on my upcoming day off, which might include a finger wave. So let's all get Fiscal, and talk about things that are happening at the Post Office as the new physical year rises from the ashes of the old.

Specifically, I want to discuss blowhards, a term I defined above, and I want to pose a question to those of you who are more knowledgeable in contract matters than I, in hopes that you will post a reply in the comments section below.  I have to confess I am confused by something a supervisor said at another stand-up talk (Not Olivia Newton John gettin physical), but another male supervisor who is king of the blowhards and will make bold pronouncements with little regard for whether they are true.  So even when he's right, as he might very well be in this case, I tend not to believe anything he says.

Postal Blowhard Supervisor started off his grandiose speech by implying that we should be grateful to him because he was going to share some of the elite inner circle secrets that were revealed to him working at the great Postal Eye in the Sky for several weeks, a place located in a concealed bunker at a former processing plant on a lot that is up for sale for scrap but nobody wants to buy it because it's contaminated.   According to him he is sharing this privileged information with us because he really appreciates all the work we do, so he said. The main theme of his speech was that letter carriers were getting busted left and right by the great Postal Eye in the Sky, which of course spies on you through your friendly blue hand-held scanner.

He related to us the story of one carrier who got called out because he was stopped 22 minutes in the same place.  The Eye in the Sky was on the job, thank goodness, and dispatched a supervisor to the scene of the crime to investigate before matters could escalate.  

"What are you doing here for 22 minutes?" the supervisor asked.  I'm paraphrasing the story.

"I had to use the bathroom."

"The bathroom?"  The supervisor looked around.  "This is a residential area.  Tell me where you used the bathroom and I will go and tell the customer thanks, on behalf of the Postal Service."

"Okay, I lied," the letter carrier quickly confessed.  "I was taking my lunch."

Immediately I was confused, so like I should have done a little over three decades ago when I was in school and in the same state of befuddlement, I raised my hand.  "We're not supposed to eat lunch in our vehicles?" I asked.  I eat mine in my LLV everyday, so this was troubling information.

"Oh no," he quickly clarified.  "You can eat lunch in your vehicle, but you have to be in your authorized lunch location."

Mr. Blowhard dismissed us from his little smoke blowing, chest thumping party, and I went back to my case, where I spent a few moments digesting the information we had been blessed with by this generous, nice Supervisor who really cared about us. 

A couple things started to bother me.  First of all, I suppose I have been mistaken to believe that I am entitled to eat where I want to during my unpaid lunch break, as long as it falls within the magical mile radius I think we are granted by the contract, outside of which the LLV turns into a pumpkin or you drive off the edge of the Earth, whichever comes first.  I mean, by definition the word authorized, as in the term authorized location, means that somebody is exercising authority over me, which by extension extension implies that I am on the clock.  And if people are authorizing me, or giving me orders at any given moment of the day, that means that I should be getting paid for it, and I'm not.  What I'm trying to say is that if you want to tell me where to take lunch you ought to be paying me for it.

For those of you heavily immersed in the chapter and verse of the letter carrier contract, is there any validity to this concept of authorized lunch locations, or was Mr. Blowhard Supervisor just spewing out superheated air from his inflated head to intimidate us into staying in a place where we can be easily cornered.  Or was he trying to imply that 22 minutes is way too long to spend on a thirty minute unpaid lunch break, and maybe we should cut it to 15 or better yet, zero.

I am trying to update the items in my Postal Dictionary, if you could give me a hand.  Does the word authorized lunch spot really have any contractual basis, or does it mean whatever Blowhard Supervisor says it does?

Happy Physical year 2016 - Mel.

Who is the most postal-friendly Presidential candidate, or should I say the only postal-friendly candidate? - More Mel on Hub Pages. 

 The Postal Tsunami derives its coastal destroying power through 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.