17 Years Experience
Long Island, NY
I am a City Letter Carrier for the US Postal Service in NY. I've been a city letter carrier for over 17 years and it is the best job I've ever had. I mostly work 5 days per week (sometimes includes a Saturday) and often have the opportunity for overtime, which is usually voluntary. The route I deliver has about 350 homes and I walk to each of their doors to deliver the mail. Please keep in mind that I don't have authority to speak for the USPS, so all opinions are solely mine, not my employer.
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I am not sure who or why someone gets their mail earlier than others but I can speculate with a bit of my own experience. As a letter carrier, I have never had any real input in the order that my route is set up for delivery. Routes have a set delivery order (computerized) and that is how we sort our mail in the AM. Actually, I'd say that maybe 80% of our mail is sorted automatically (in delivery order) before it even arrives at our post office. This is called DPS (Delivery Point Sequencing) and FSS (Flats Sequencing System). I spend maybe 90 min. at the most each AM preparing mail for delivery. I have noticed that some senior citizen residences and businesses often are at the beginning of routes. The route I deliver is 100% Residential so the route order is basically an efficient line of travel. Last year our office had a route restructuring where some parts of different routes were added or deleted. In my example, the additional streets that I now deliver first used to be the last to be delivered on the old route. Most people got used to the new delivery schedule and heard very few comments after the first few weeks of it. I have seen on one occasion where some residents who were near the end of the delivery route did a lot of complaining and had their street put towards the beginning of the route. I think it is rare for that type of complaining to work. If getting mail earlier in the day is important to you, the only suggestion I have is to rent a PO Box at a local PO. That mail is usually finished being sorted by 9AM.
No. There is a lot of training about avoiding situations where may get attacked by dogs. Basically if we see a loose dog, especially one we aren't familiar with, don't attempt to deliver the mail to that house or area. Furthermore we carry dog spray called "off!", which we can spray in a dogs face if an attack is imminent. Fortunately I've never had to use it. Several of my co-workers have been bit by dogs during their deliveries, but I don't think too seriously.
My shift begins at 0745 AM and ends at 0415 PM. That is 8 hours pay, plus 30 min. Non-paid lunch. We also get 2 10-minute breaks (paid). I don't think it is necessary to have mail delivery on Sunday. There is even debate in Congress and by the US Postal Service to cancel Saturday deliveries as a cost-savings measure. I am happy with the current schedule of delivering mail 6 days/week. Some co-workers would like to have delivery just Mon-Fri. So they could have normal "weekends" off. While I understand why some would like that, I feel that consolidating 6 days of delivery mail into 5 days of delivery would make for very heavy Mondays based on the current mail volume.
I can't really say why this job would have more disgruntled workers than other boring and unsatisfying jobs. I can say a fair amt. of coworkers don't have great morale or work ethic, which is probably common in other government jobs. A lot of the publicity about the disgruntled postal work was due to several high-profile events of violence by postal workers. I think there are situations where the work environment could get so unpleasant that a maybe less-than-stable employee may snap. Again, that could happen on any job. Maybe the USPS rcvd a lot of publicity also because we are a huge employer and there are more chances for something bad to happen.
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I would like to think that the executives are looking at ways to keep up with the pace of technology and adapt to changes to keep us relevant/profitable. I just don't know if there is a clear solution. Proposed changes as to what lines of business we can get involved in might need approval of Congress. For example, I think the legislation that recently passed the Senate would allow us to deliver alcohol. The senior management seems more focused now on cutting costs instead of being too innovative due to the restrictions on getting into new lines of business. An example of this would be a propsal to cut delivery of mail from 6 days/week to 5 days/week.
I have never thought of that or seen this happen. In your example, if I happened to see that letter in the outgoing mail that I picked up from a house, I MIGHT notice that there is no postage on it and that the address where the PO thinks the letter should go would be at the same house I picked the letter up from. When I pick up outgoing mail, I do look to see if there is postage on the envelope. If you dropped the letter in a blue collection box, the plan might work. The post office might "return for the postage" the letter. In that case the letter would go to the person you wanted it to. It is also possible that nobody picks up on the missing postage and then the letter winds up back in your hands which wasn't your intention. Either way, it is intentionally trying to steal a service which has to be paid for so I recommend NOT to do this.
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