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Topic: Question for my fellow postal workers

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Subject: Question for my fellow postal workers
Date Posted: 2/14/2008 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 8/21/2005
Posts: 989
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I had a bad day yesterday and mostly need to vent. I'm a substitute rural mail carrier so i'm interested in hearing how other carriers and postal workers handle the constant rude comments from the general public? Yes, i know we have a postal rate increase coming up, but why does every other customer on the route feel the need to take it out on me personally? Geez, i have to pay the same rates they do, i don't get discounted stamps or shipping costs because i work there! 

I think they assume my job is so easy, that i just load my car and leave for the day. I only wish! I spend 2-3 hours each morning sorting it all, then have to line up all the packages and keep track of them to ensure everyone gets theirs, keep track of items that need signatures, who is on a vacation hold and who's has expired and needs to be delivered. Not to mention remember every single forward that is current or expired for a route with over 500 mail boxes. I use my own car, if i damage it, and yes this winter i certainly have! It comes out of MY pocket, not the Post office. So far this winter i have ripped off my side mirror and put a large gash/scratch in the backend of my car all because someone didn't feel the need to keep their mailbox clear of snow, yet if i don't deliver it they are the first ones to call and complain. It amazes me the lies people will tell the mail clerk or Post Master just because they are angry, they say they shoveled, but they haven't,etc.

SO how do you handle it ? I guess i am a little stressed because i am only 3 weeks into a 9 week stretch of filing in for the regular carrier who is out on medical leave for having shoulder surgery. I'm grateful for the work, but it sure amazes me how underappreciated this job is, i think people just have no clue that this job really is WORK!


Date Posted: 2/14/2008 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2006
Posts: 1,186
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Oh, Tanya, the stories we could tell, huh!?!

I've found over the years that this time of year is more stressful than the holiday rush. And I really believe the weather has a lot to do with it. It's still cold, windy and wet--rain, ice, snow--it's all bad! Spring can't get here soon enough!



Last Edited on: 2/14/08 11:24 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/14/2008 4:06 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,336
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I absolutely love my mail carrier, and tell her often.  After years of subs, it is so wonderful to have someone who knows the route and does it well.  The problem is, like here at PBS, the happy people mostly keep quiet, but the unhappy one's speak up.  I bet there are a lot of quiet folks on your route who appreciate your service.  I know that doesn't really help much -- we need to hear the appreciation.  But here's a thanks from me for doing a hard job and doing it well!

Date Posted: 2/14/2008 5:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
Posts: 1,080
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I carried for 5+ years and now work inside. A couple years ago, we had a line out the door and the clerk next to me got a complainer. She was loud and long in her many problems. The clerk let her rant and sent her on her way. As she left, he said just as loud, "Another happy customer, Next!" in a bright chipper voice. The whole line burst out laughing. I usually agree with the grumbling about the increase, gets them moving faster. Most are just looking to vent and you are handy.

You have one of the worst jobs in the post office, in my opinion.  You work hard and not much good feedback. My husband does that job too. All the work and expectation to be available and no benefits or even steady work. Sounds like you like your job most of the time and try to do it right. We need more carriers like that!

Date Posted: 2/14/2008 8:55 PM ET
Member Since: 2/18/2006
Posts: 58
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I hate the complaining about rate charges.  What really bugs me is that it is unjustified.  In about 200 years stamps have went up 40 cents.  I have challenged customers to give me one other item that has only went up 40 cents in 200 years.  I think gas has doubled in the past year!

Date Posted: 2/14/2008 10:03 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,536
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Can't you take a digital camera along with you to take a picture of that uncleared mailbox so you can show your supervisor just why you didn't deliver the mail there?

Date Posted: 2/15/2008 6:04 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2006
Posts: 1,186
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Good idea, Sarah! I've used my cellphone camera a number of times to show my supervisor exactly what the problem is!

Date Posted: 2/15/2008 4:33 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2006
Posts: 368
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Tanya,      Others in this strand are correct - perhaps those of us who have considerate carriers don't express our thanks often enough. Our carrier is a delight! Our neighborhood association even had a ceremony for her at the local PO, wth all the publicity, etc. because she heard one of her patrons call out out for help. The eldery woman had fallen and broken her hip. The carrier used her cell, called EMS, the woman's daughter, and stayed with her until the ambulance came. How's that for above and beyond! She also waves to each of us if she sees us in our cars as we pass on the street. She knows almost all of us by name and greets us thusly. We appreciate her greatly, and tell her often. We also, though, tell her subs the same thing if we see them. They seem to all appreciate the encouraging words! So, kudos to you and all your coharts! You are appreciated!!!

Date Posted: 2/15/2008 6:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2006
Posts: 7
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I have found that the easiest way is to agree with them. "I know! Can you believe that? It surprised me, too."  Then I blame it on gas prices which is something everyone can relate to. I sometimes tell them that the PO uses over 1 million gallons of gas a day and at $3 a gallon that really adds up.

For you other clerks, here's something I had read and tried when I had a long of customers.  I asked aloud "Does anyone want to get in shorter line?" Of course, everyone nodded yes. "OK", I said. "Everyone stand closer together!"

Date Posted: 2/15/2008 6:08 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2006
Posts: 7
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Sorry. That should read "a long line of customers".

Date Posted: 2/15/2008 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
Posts: 1,080
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I like it Chip! I might have to steal that idea.

Date Posted: 2/15/2008 9:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/21/2005
Posts: 989
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Today was a better day. I think all the snow and ice here is really getting everyone cranky, our mail clerk said she got so many angry callers yesterday yelling about not getting mail( they weren't shoveled out) and even a few that walked into the P.O. just to scream at her, that she went straight home and fixed herself a cocktail. Customers and carriers alike are just fed up with this long winter. I'm dreaming of Spring time!

I don't have a digital camera, but that is a very good idea. I hope to purchase one soon.

Date Posted: 2/16/2008 8:46 AM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2007
Posts: 357
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I work the counter in a contract postal unit.  Before I worked here (for the last 15 months), I was one of those people who complained about long lines and slow workers in the post office.  Now?  I have an incredible respect and empathy for them. 

Here are a few ways to drive postal counter workers crazy:

"when will it get there?"  Unless you are sending it express mail, there is no way we can give you a date.  We can give you estimates.  It doesn't matter if it's only going across town. 

"But I don't want to send it priority!  Just send it 'regular' mail!"  Then you cannot use that priority box. Or the recycled priority box that you've packed.  Even a few priority stickers on a plain brown box aren't allowed.  One of the biggest problems is priority address labels...... Those are not 'free' labels.  They are there for priority mail customers. 

If you come to the counter with stuff in a plastic bag and say "I need to mail this", then the only option you have is priority mail unless you want to PURCHASE a non-priority box.  

Please please please, have your packages taped and addressed before you come to the counter!  We are not UPS.  Our meters don't generate lovely self-adhesive address levels for your packaging.   It's amazing how many people bring things to the counter that are completely blank and then they are shocked that they have to address them!  Oh, and scotch tape is NOT going to hold a box together.  Just sayin'

Learn how to address a package or envelope. It amazes me how many people do not know how to correctly address a package or letter.   Return address: Top left corner.  Recipient address: center middle.  At least once a week someone will come in with a letter that was delivered back to them because they had a return address centered over the recipient address (some commercial address labels are actually set up that way!!).   In some cases, it will be delivered to the first address........

Once your meter strip is printed and applied to the package/letter, it is done.  You can't take it with you.  You cannot change your mind and ask for a cheaper rate.   We can always add postage, but subtracting postage isn't possible.

Lines would be a lot shorter in most cases if people were prepared when they get to the counter.  Sadly, there are many many people who waste everyone's time because they aren't ready.  People are always ready to blame the workers because it's slow, but that is not always the case.



Last Edited on: 2/16/08 11:11 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/16/2008 11:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,403
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Perhaps we need a Postal Peeps Appreciation Day? 

I agree with what others have already said.  Those of us who love our postal workers are probably not vocal enough about it.

The PO in my small, rural town is staffed with wonderful people as is the PO in the larger town where I work.  Both POs have to deal with my PBS and troop packages.  They are always professional, friendly and helpful.  And, they always process my packages with a smile and some friendly banter... no matter how busy they are.    I even found some Valentines Day chocolates in my mail box the other day, LOL. 

I bake for both POs for the holidays... it's the least I can do!

So.. thanks to all of you postal peeps! 


Date Posted: 2/16/2008 11:28 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2006
Posts: 4,375
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Since we're all HUMAN, we're going to find it both ways - - the unreasonable customer and the unreasonable USPS employee..  I'm one of the extremely fortunate ones with both a fabulous mail carrier and really great people in our post office!!  How'd I get so lucky !?!  One route over from us, they are stuck with a real 'pita' for a mail carrier.  Never a good word for anyone and if conditions aren't perfect he won't leave mail!!  You are absolutely correct that when all goes well we take it for granted.  Thanks for the reminder that I need to express my thanks for our great service...

Date Posted: 2/17/2008 4:30 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 73
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I, too like to point out reasons WHY postage might need to be going up. One of my favorites right now is the factoid that for every penny that gas prices increases it costs the post office $8 million!!!

I have recently moved off the window and have not carried for many years (although I was a city carrier for 8 years), although I miss my customers and HATE having to deal with management more as a distribution clerk. I do not miss the ever present complainers and the pressure to please the customers without management support to provide the staffing to keep the lines moving.

Date Posted: 2/18/2008 11:46 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 285
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As a window clerk, I like to point out to the complainers that our rates go up because of gas prices. We have the largest fleet of vehicles of any organization IN THE WORLD (including the U. S. military), and we don't get a subsidy on gasoline. We pay the very same price per gallon that our customers do. And, no, your tax dollars don't pay my dadgum salary, we've been off the federal budget since 1982. All of our income is from postage and fees. And, no, I won't be getting a raise out of this increase. My pay, much like the price of postage has been going up at far less than the rate of inflation for years.

I don't get many repeat complainers.

Date Posted: 2/19/2008 12:02 AM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2006
Posts: 382
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some of you rual carriers should write a book about it!


Date Posted: 2/19/2008 6:54 AM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 1,642
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When I go to the post office today to mail some books, I'm going to make sure that I thank the workers for being there. I have never been treated with anything less than respect by the postal workers in our PO, and they have always been extremely helpful. I tend to be one of those quiet satisfied customers and don't usually speak up in positive ways.

Date Posted: 2/19/2008 10:10 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Sure the rate hike sucks but nothing anyone can do and it wont stop me posting my things.

I take the mail in every so often for work and always Thank them behind the counter, as they like us to hand the tubs of mail to them so no one can go through it. Unlike the other place we used to take it too and they would tell us to leave the tubs by the door.  I have never had any of these people be rude to me or be anything but helpful.

So once again THANKYOU!