Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things your mail carrier wishes you knew....Part 1

I try not to grouse and grumble about my job on a public forum, but right now I am neither grousing OR grumbling. I have been a mail carrier since forever. I am actually quite good at it, although I can't say that I always enjoy it every single day. But there are so many things that would make life much easier, not just for me, but for my customers.
I am sure I can't remember everything I wanted to say, but I will attempt to make a start. Here goes:

- Please remove your mail from the box, if not daily, then at least a couple of times a week. If you go on vacation use an official HOLD form to notify your carrier. And if you are moving, please please please fill out a form to forward your mail. You can even do this online now, and its a simple procedure. The problem is that I am required to return any mail that has not been claimed after 10 days. I have people who take the mail out of their box once or twice a month. I don't want to return important mail and cause a lot of trouble for my customers. But, if my route should be audited, and believe me, auditors seem to have set up shop in our local office lately, then my job will be on the line. I don't have a choice, so be aware of the 10 day rule. Please.

- Please don't run me down to ask if I have seen the letter that your great Aunt Martha mailed off to you last Tuesday. Its not that I don't care that your letter is missing. The fact is that on an average day I handle somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 letters, 500 to a 1000 magazines and newspapers and a whole slew of packages, sales papers, etc. We have to adhere to a strict time schedule which allows me approximately a millisecond to scan a letter for the delivery address and thats about it...I don't have the ability to recall a single specific letter out of all the ones I see in a day or have the time to pay attention to who the senders are. You can call the Postmaster who will most likely direct you to call the office it was mailed from. If it doesn't have a tracking number though, its going to be really difficult to track.

- Also?...every single piece of mail that comes into our office for that day of delivery MUST go out. Seriously, I can't pick and choose and decide that I want to hold back Great Aunt Martha's letter at my desk until sometime next Thursday. Those auditors (again with the auditors) make absolutely certain that NO mail is left behind and not delivered. If it comes into our office, we deliver it. That day!
We have no choice. If I don't have it chances are good it hasn't made it to our office yet. If its an important document, then consider paying a few cents more for a tracking number. If its REALLY important, consider certified or registered mail.

- Please please please do NOT run me down in the middle of my route, stopping traffic and putting both of us in an unsafe situation to ask me for your monthly check. My mail is trayed up, in order, in the back seat of my car and digging out a single piece is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Wait for me to get to your address....I promise I will make it there as soon as I possibly can!!! Or consider direct deposit.

-Yes we sell stamps and yes I will affix a stamp to a letter or 2 if you leave money in your box. But please...we are under duress to deliver a whole lot of mail in a short period of time. Respect that our time is very limited. If you have more than a couple of letters just buy a book of stamps and peel and stick all of those stamps for yourself. Also? Handfuls of pennies are not appreciated. Counting out 44 pennies for a single stamp is difficult and time consuming while sitting in a running car on the side of the road with traffic baring down on us from all sides. Oh, and using tape to stick change to an envelope is a serious pain the rear for us. Just don't.

- Sometimes we have certified mail, registered mail, express mail that requires a signature. Please answer the door if you are home. And if you could put on a robe or a towel if you are naked, that would be appreciated. (Yes, it really DOES happen. LOL).

- If you have a dog in your yard, we won't get out of our vehicles. This is actually an official order from Headquarters. Its a safety issue. I know YOUR dog doesn't bite. The one that bit me didn't bite either....until he bit me. And I had to go through questioning as to why I wasn't following safety protocol (the dog was inside and pushed past his owner when the door was opened to chomp down on my thigh).
And then I had to watch a series of safety videos which was a real boring load of crappola. Believe me, we don't want to go through the hassle of being bitten. And you are not going to want to deal with the bill that the post office will hand you to pay the price for all the red tape they have to go through. They have to pay for those safety videos somehow, you know. Keep your dog inside, in a fence, or pick up your packages and signed items at the post office.

- The forever stamps are good for....wait for it...forever. LOL. You won't believe how many times we get asked that.

- We actually have to either deliver ALL of the mail addressed to your residence, or none of it. We don't get to pick and choose. No, I really can't stop putting junk mail in your box. The mailer has paid for me to deliver it and I have to do my job.
Also? If you are divorced or separated, I can't put the cable bill in your mail box but forward the car insurance bill to your deadbeat ex. I just can't keep that many details straight in my head. I have almost 700 families to try and keep straight.
I know its inconvenient but you are going to have to contact the senders and give them the addresses that you want the stuff sent to. I really am sympathetic and I wish I could be more helpful in that department, but its got to be all or nothing according to postal law.

to be continued because there really is so much more that needs to be said....:)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The cost of living

I can hardly believe how much it cost just to live lately. Not even to live in the lap of luxury, but just to perch of the knees of comfort. Grocery prices have really gone up around here. My beloved diet sodas....up by almost 2 dollars a carton. Luckily we only drink about a 12 pack a week. Well, each of us. Bruce likes Coke zero and I only want Diet Dr. Pepper. Fresh veggies are outrageous. I am trying to be much more conscious of not letting things spoil before we can use them. I buy less at one time and I try to keep an eye on what needs to be used up. I try to plan meals accordingly instead of just making whatever we are in the mood for. But still, its amazing how much I spend on food for just 2 people.

And don't even get me started on gas prices. How do people make it? Families with only 1 job? Or 2 jobs and a lot of kids? Or those folks who haven't even got jobs.
Its crazy harsh out there in the world. This afternoon, for example, we had errands to run. Bruce needed new tires, and I needed to pick up cat meds from our vet. An hour later we were back home just chatting about the day. New tires were something like $380 and he had to fill up with gas. Heartworm/flea medication for 4 cats was $90. Which will last for 2 months but still....we had blown through $500 in the blink of an eye.
Scary, isn't it?

I am grateful that we are able to make ends meet, but it is putting a serious kink in my plans for early retirement. Did you know that the Federal Government has suspended putting matching funds into our 401Ks? They spend recklessly, bail out shady investment companies, and now they can't pay into my 401K and I have to suffer because of it? Does that seem right to anybody out there? Of course, we have been promised the funds will be replaced August. I am not sure that I trust them. But they aren't asking for my blessings on the matter so its not like I have any choice. Oh well, its not like I can afford to quit to show my disdain. Not when we can go through $500 in the time it takes to sneeze. :( Hopefully things will turn around eventually. I am trying not to put a dooms day spin on anything, but sooner would be much better than later.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Erica

My daughter. My precious little baby girl is so grown up now. I can't believe my eyes when I see her. I spent so much time, when she was just a tiny little thing, wondering, daydreaming about what she might become. What would she look like? What would her personality be like? I have these random moments burned into my memory of her as a baby, as a child. Not the highlight moments, like birthdays or holidays. I have pictures of those. But unremarkable every day moments that fly by all too fast. How I used to watch her sleep those first few months of her life, so scared something might happen. Was she still breathing? Sometimes I would run my finger lightly over her lips if she was sleeping so soundly that I couldn't see her chest rise and fall. She would pucker her lips like a kiss without waking up. It reassured me that she was doing fine. I used to rock her to sleep, holding her tiny little body wrapped in a baby blanket and singing a little song I made up just for her bedtime. It was a simple little rhyme that I can still remember. It worked as far as lulling her to sleep. Unless she was smart enough at a few months old to realize that if she would pretend to be asleep I would stop singing. LOL. I don't have the best voice, and noone would dispute that.

There was Erica at 3 years old, pouting over a pink little sundress that she wanted at the mall. "But I'm a pretty girl!", she argued when I tried to put it back on the rack because she had enough sundresses for the summer. She stamped her little foot for emphasis. "And pretty girls NEED pretty clothes!" She got the dress. How can you argue with that kind of logic? Erica at 4 or 5 years old. We were at the county fair. Erica was wearing a pair of little blue jeans and a pink sweater. Always pink. She only wanted to wear pink. Her hair was long and pulled back into a ponytail. She had gone into one of those giant blow up jumping castles. And I watched her, her face was radiant with absolute glee. Jumping, leaping, loving every minute of it. She was totally into My Little Ponies back then. Never barbies....just the ponies. I remember thinking to myself right then that she was MY precious little pony with her ponytail bobbing up and down. One moment frozen in time. Strange the random things we remember.

But now she is grown up, and making a life all her own. She is more than I hoped she would be. She exceeded all of my daydreams. So smart, so ambitious, so independent.
Where did all of that come from? Certainly not from me. LOL. But its who and what she is, however it happened. And I am proud of her, in awe of her. She will have her doctorate in the near future. My very own Dr. Baby, PhD. And matter how old she is or how many degrees she attains, or whatever micro-biology miracles she achieves....she will ALWAYS be my precious little pony. Happy Birthday beloved daughter of mine. May all of your hopes and dreams be fulfilled. You deserve nothing less. We love you. Happy Birthday!