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Rant warning!  A former rural route letter carrier is going to lecture you!

Last night I ordered 25 baby chicks to replenish the flock down at the farm.  Murray McMurray is my favorite hatchery.  I ordered them knowing that they will be whisked from hatchery to my local post office. And that on the day of delivery, my postal worker will call me, probably at about 5 AM to let me know they are there.  I could leave them there and my carrier would deliver them to my door, but I like to get them as soon as possible. So the post office phones me.  They’re excellent at that sort of thing.  As they are at many things that people overlook.

The people ragging on the Post Office need a remedial field trip visit there to see what actually goes on.  As a former letter carrier, let me remind you of a few things.
Machines can ‘kind of’ sort mail.  Just as they can ‘kind of’ scan print into text.  *uproarious laughter from writers who have tried to scan old books/manuscripts into text*   So your mail is sorted by PEOPLE.  And no matter how many feet of mail come in per day, your letter carrier is expected to hand sort it all into the correct delivery order, bundle it up, and deliver it ON TIME.  Christmas catalogs and Politcal junk mail not withstanding, no matter how  heavy the load that day, no matter that the shopper mailers have come in too, you must still do the task in the time allotted.  Do you know any other job that demands that?

Mail routes are NOT alphabetical or numerically in order.  We go up and down streets, leave 28th, do Mullen, and come back to 28th later, and keep track of the kid that went to college and needs her mail forwarded.  PEOPLE do that.  Not some magical machine.  You want to see what human memory is capable of, watch an experienced carrier sort mail.
Oh, and snow days?  Forget that.  Get out there, and rural carriers, you’d better maintain your own personal vehicles that you use for the job very well.  Mine had  a heavy duty alternator in it, to allow for over 300 stops and starts on my route every day.  I went through brakes like candy.  And turn signal lamps, as you signal in and out of every rural mailbox you service.


No other service delivers what the post office does.  I’ve delivered trees, bees, worms and chicks.  UPS won’t touch chicks!  We did.  Maybe you live in the city and think that no one needs that service anymore.  Then you’re ignorant.  The mail service is a lifeline for rural people.  Don’t you remember the Sesame Street segment on the mail carrier who delivered on horseback?  Streets don’t go everywhere, but the mail has to.  Every US citizen has a right to receive mail, even if it’s only General Delivery at the post office.
Let’s talk about politcal junk  mail.  Your politicians have a Franking Privilege.  It lets them send out all the mail they want to promote themselves under the guise of keeping you informed.  AND they NEVER EVER get around to correcting their mistake ridden mailing lists.  You are tired of getting six copies of the same useless flyer delivered to your house?  Your carrier has to hand correct all the wrong ones and send them back.  And next time the deluge of political mail comes in, there are all the bad addresses and ancient names and duplicates again.  Because the politicians have no incentive to correct their mailing lists.
Are mistakes made?  Yes.  Are things late or damaged?  Yes.  It happens.  But of all the mail stream that must be handled, it’s a small percentage.  You recall the damaged box or the late check. Do you think of the mail that reaches you six days a week, on time?  When there are fallen tree branches, icy streets and wild winds, there is the mail coming in through your door or in your mail box.
You get a lot for a single postage stamp.


  1. Robert - February 9, 2013

    I’m trying to subscribe to the feed here:

    http://robinhobb.com/feed/

    but I get this error:

    An invalid character was found in text content.
    Line: 35 Character: 352

    Mail routes are NOT alphabetical or numerically in order. We go up and down streets, leave 28th, do Mullen, and come back to 28th later, and keep track of the kid that went to college and needs her mail forwarded. PEOPLE do that. Not some magical machine. You want to see what human memory is capable of, watch an experienced carrier sort mail.

    I believe that it’s the question marks in black diamonds that are the problem.

    I tried to send this to the webmaster but you don’t have one.

  2. [quote]The mail service is a lifeline for rural people.[/quote]

    A lifeline for certain. I could not live here on a cattle station in Outback Queensland, Australia, without the service that Australia Post provides.

    [quote]You get a lot for a single postage stamp.[/quote]

    Yes, indeed. I’m with you on all counts!

    Netta

  3. Well said! We have a wonderful mail carrier. We received a letter from a great niece addressed to Uncle Perry and Aunt Fawn, no last name, with only the city and state as the address. What machine could ever figure out to where that precious piece of mail should be sent?
    We have ordered chicks and bee colonies with no issues or complaints. That is true (and brave)service.