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Keeping The Postal Worker At Arms Length

You know what? There are some people who work at or for the post office who are some serious jerks. Go to the post office and some of the people who work there will treat their customers like so much trash. All too often they are wearing their attitude on their sleeve and are waiting for the slightest provocation, or perception there of, to trigger their wrath. And the thought of quality customer service is a tasteless joke. I’d rather go to the dentist office.

And then there’s the letter carrier who refuses to deliver mail and parcels with even the slightest care. I remember ordering pictures of my son taken just minutes after he was born. The hospital offers a service where they take the pictures and you have a year to order them over the internet or over the phone. The parcel was clearly marked do not bend. But the letter carrier folded it anyway and shoved it into the mailbox putting a nice crease straight down my son’s face. We called the photographer and reported what happened. They sent another copy. It wound up with the same fate as if the mail carrier was hell bent on preventing us from having unmarred baby pictures.

By no means is this a reflection of all postal employees. I’ve met some seriously nice mail carriers and postal workers that are truly blessings. These people are true role models for others. But more often than not, my experiences with employees of the postal service are the type I would be better off without.

The local post office itself is no picnic. With so many postal employees spreading bad will it is inevitable that somebody is going to get so upset that they’ll forget their self, reach across the counter and smack one of them. So they’ll invest in bullet resistant glass to keep their employees safe. Screw anybody on the other side of the glass that might have to deal with one of their irate customers. Knowing some of those people who work behind the counter they’ll see a customer attack another customer and simply take their break until the damage is done, come back to the window and say “next”.

The post office seems to be stuck on the business model they had back in the wild, wild west when they were the only game in town. That particular model could weather poor customer service because there was no alternative. Don’t like the fact that your mail carrier is a jerk? That’s just too bad. Who else are you going to use to keep in touch with the world?

But these days, we have options. Email and tweeting makes communication relatively instantaneous. The cost of long distance phoning has been brought down to local calling levels. Federal Express and United Parcel Service and DHL are excellent alternatives for package deliveries. And the immediacy of the internet has made communicating with companies, ordering products and services, communicating with the customer service department of corporate America, a breeze. I don’t think the postal service even has a customer service department.

The postal service is quickly becoming one of those old fashioned black rotary telephones, complete with the finger wheel and hard wired into a jack in the wall that only the telephone man with the heavy duty utility belt touches, competing in an age of fourth generation iPhones. No sane person would settle for using a rotary phone these days unless there was absolutely nothing else around and doing without any communication was not an option.

While I appreciate the fact that I can still mail a letter across the country for less than fifty cents, at least for now, the fact of the matter is that despite the wonderfulness of this service it comes with such glaring drawbacks. It is enough to question its continued existence in its current form.

Unfortunately, because of the culture ingrained in keeping things exactly the way they are, the postal service is unlikely to adopt a business model that will allow it to adopt the best practices of the delivery industry. The very idea of the post office shedding underperforming branches is anathema. It ranks right up there with the post office shedding underperforming employees. The fat and redundancy built into the postal service will forever keep it a lethargic leviathan compared to its more nimble competitors.

These days, I keep my visits to the post office, my interaction to my letter carrier, to an absolute minimum. I have no interest in developing any kind of personal relationship with my local postal worker. Although I am sure there are plenty of exceptions, I feel that the postal workers’ reputation for rudeness and downright incompetence is well deserved. I really don’t have the patience to figure out which ones are the good guys and which ones are the bad guys who could not care any less about the lack of service they give. Besides, by the time I figure who’s who, they’ll change their rotation and I’ll have to start all over again.

And that’s a shame. I remember back in the day the postal worker that came to my parent’s house was like a family friend. Sometimes we would stop and talk and he knew what kids belonged to what houses. Now, the letter carrier is more likely to make his or her rounds with an MP3 player plugged in his ear or chatting on one of those previously mentioned iPhones. At least when the UPS guy stops at my house I know I’ll have their full attention. I know there’s a number I can call to report problems. The post office really is a totally different story.

Thursday, March 4, 2010 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts


  1. Growing up, we had the same mailman for years, despite moving across town. Mail just came later at the new place. He always had a lifesaver for the kids..and I, in order to earn more lifesavers would help him along his route some days. For every stop back to the truck I would get one more. Every Christmas we had a plate of goodies for him and mom would make sure to buy a big package of lifesavers to replenish his supply to give out to kids. In the summertime, he could stop in for a glass of lemonade or ice water on a hot day. If I was running my lemonade stand on the corner on certain days, he always got a free glass. We were like best buddies. Then he retired, and we got a new guy. He did his job, but wasn’t as friendly and sociable with people.

    In my current job, I have to meet up at the main DSM metro post office with a delivery driver who I escort (gotta love what us rentacops have to do for the boss to make his money)to pick up and transport federal prison mail to a distribution facility. A couple of the people are okay, but most people working there are not the nicest people in the world…and those responsible for getting our packages down to the dock on time…well some days its there, other days we have to have them called, and they act like its the biggest inconvenience to actually have to do their job. I’d love for someone to pay me $20/hr or more to bitch about having a job to do, while ignoring it!

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Friday, March 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

      Big case in point! A lot of people who work for the post office these days act like it’s some big hardship that they have to do something like move. Go to the counter and tell the person you’re there to pick up a package. Some of them start huffing and puffing like a choo-choo. My bad! I thought they were there to give me mail service. And I know when I go to the UPS store, it is a totally different experience. No bullet resistant glass. No huffing and puffing. I’ll receive professional service with professional courtesy. Not something I associate with the post office. If I was being paid $20/hr with the kind of benefits they get, especially these days when work is pretty scarce, I’d count my blessings everyday I could go to work. I would treat my customers with respect and appreciation because the only reason I’m there is to serve. But that’s just me. It’s not typical of postal workers.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, March 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. Our mail carrier was a jerk as well. I complained about him constantly. He would be sleeping or sitting talking on the phone in the mail truck for hours while my mail sat like a hostage with him. I was so tired of him, I wanted to kick him when he came to the door.

    Finally the person in charge of the local post office got about as tired of me as I did of the mail man and switched his route. I now have really nice mail people. We have two different ones. But they are both really personable and hard workers.

    They both give me a doorbell ring when I have a package too large for the slot so that I can grab it. As I don’t like my packages sitting on the front porch. But the only way they would know that is by talking to me and getting to know me a bit.

    One is a lady doing the Saturday delivery and the other is another man doing M – F. I would be willing to give them a card and a nice treat for Christmas etc. Because they act as if they care about their jobs and their neighbors. I know that each one of them lives in my area. And that makes me feel even more connected with them. As they are my actual neighbors.

    Love the post!

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Saturday, March 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. I have had some awful, awful experiences with my local post office lately, along the lines of complete disregard for my requests all the way to tampering with my mail, not to mention laughing in my face about all of it. I probably sound crazy, but I’m truly not, I work in customer service and know how to NOT treat people, a skill set that my post office workers have honed and perfected. I found this post because I am searching out others who have had these terrible experiences. I could not agree with you more, that the USPS acts like the rogue pony that they certainly are not.

    Comment by Flipping OUT! | Monday, January 23, 2012 | Reply

  4. I feel a bit better now that I’m reading about others with postal worker problems. My problem started when I went out the front door to talk to my regular postman. I wanted to remind him to ask the subs that take his place not to go through my flower garden while cutting through the yards delivering mail. As soon as I opened the front door and said “HI” he glared at me and with a gruff voice and pointing his finger at me said “I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!!” That surprised me and I said “What?” He repeated what he said in the same mean voice. I thought wow! There was no reason for him treating me like that so I called the post master to complain. Now he is shoving the big puffy envelopes in my box which takes me two hands to yank out. So, I complained. Now he would leave those envelopes and other packages on the ground with my letters rubber banded to them. So, I complained again. I asked the post master to ask my postman to please put our letters in the mail box and bulk items on the chair that sits on my stoop. Now, he throws my packages at the chair, like a frisbee…again I complain…now he throws my packages that have my letters rubber banded to them on the chair. I just now…Today…called them back up and you what they said me? ” We will talk to him…but he is a very good employee” ARGGGGGGGGG……..What do I do?!

    Comment by Becky Patterson | Thursday, April 4, 2013 | Reply

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