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 don't know the answer for sure, but here is what I think would happen: the letter would probably first go to the city where the ZIP code written on the letter corresponds to. Upon noticing that there is no valid address corresponding with that ZIP code, a clerk at the PO may then notice that the "city" is different than the ZIP written on the letter. After that the clerk MIGHT look up the correct ZIP for the intended city, write it on the envelope and send it to the correct post office for proper delivery.
Not necessarily. If it says "presort std" or "Non-profit" in the upper right hand corner (that is known as the indicia) then it is likely a solicitation or advertisement. If it has a stamp or a meter that indicates first class, I also wouldn't be too concerned as long as the item isn't thick or otherwise looks suspicious. Generally if it is a letter-size envelope that isn't too thick , I wouldn't be too worried. I can't guarantee that there aren't dangerous items sent through the mail, but it is rare. I don't mean to say throw all caution to the wind, but I don't like to be an alarmist....unless you have reason to believe someone means you harm.
This is a subject that many letter carriers don't like to talk about too much in public. I think the main reason is that I don't think we are supposed to accept any monetary gifts. This being an anonymous forum allows me to be more candid. Around the holidays, many of the residents I deliver to do give me a cash gratuity, or gift card, or some chocolates, etc. By no means is this all of them. Also, because I am a fairly paid (in my opinion) civil servant, I don't expect a tip nor will it affect what kind of service you get from me. That would be totally illegal in my opinion, and it bothers me to hear others talk about their patrons and whether they tip or not. I don't like to talk about this subject with some of my co-workers. That said, I do gladly accept any and all gratuities from my customers and truly appreciate it. The average tip is $20 from my experience. From what I've heard this is also a more regional thing. In other geographic areas, it may be much less common to receive a cash gratuity or anything at all. I've heard of people receiving some alcohol or home-baked cookies. Again, I am only speaking from personal experience. Good question, though.
I am not sure of the reason why your cards may not get to its intended destination. I would make sure you have the following items taken care of. 1) check to make sure the address is correct and legible (definitely include apt. Or suite #'s if appropriate) 2) put a return address in the upper left hand corner of the envelope. 3) make sure there is sufficient postage on the envelope. Most basic greeting cards require just 1 stamp, but if the item has an irregular shape or contains very rigid contents, there may be additional postage required. We certainly make mistakes and misdeliver or destroy (sorting machines) mail on occasion, but it is more the exception than the rule. So we can't guarantee your card will get to its intended destination by dropping it in a blue mailbox, I can say it is VERY likely it will. Well more than 99% of the time in my opinion.
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I wish, but It has never happened to me. I have no good stories about romance on the route. As much as it might make a good story, I don't think any small measure of fun is worth getting in trouble (with a husband or boyfriend) or putting a decent job at risk. I keep things professional between my customers and me. No issues that way.
I don't think that this will become more mainstream for a regular household. Most families don't really mail that many items per month to make it worthwhile to subsidize a machine or postage. I don't see a need for most people under a certain age (my guess now is 35 years old) for the the USPS. I mean they may use it for mailing packages (postage can already be printed at home for that without any special device) and not too much else I can think of. We do offer options for customers to purchase stamps at grocery stores, warehouse clubs, via telephone, mail, or the Internet so nobody has to go to the PO now to buy stamps if they don't want to.
The vehicle which you are asking about is called an LLV (Long-Life Vehicle). There is a newer version out but I'm not sure what it is called. It also has a Right-hand drive setup. The main reason for this arrangement is so we can effect a curbside mailbox delivery and be on the side of the vehicle closest to the mailbox. Also, if we need to exit the vehicle to go up to a door to deliver a package, we can safely exit the vehicle and not worry about exiting the side where traffic might be coming from. (which is the left side of the vehicle). I drive an LLV daily for my route. We did need to pass a driver proficiency course in the LLV which is given by a co-worker who has trained to be a driving instructor with the USPS. There is no extra licensing required besides this training course. It wasn't that difficult to get used to and now it is second nature. The LLVs handle very well in DRY weather. When it is snowy or icy they are much more difficult to handle, especially if there is any incline. The route I deliver is very flat so fortunately I don't have to deal with the terrain issue in inclement weather.
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