Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas at the Post Office

Fourteen years ago, I worked my first Christmas as a mail man.  I was a replacement carrier.  I worked for people on their days off, sick days, and vacations.  At that time, with 0 seniority and only knowing two routes, I worked two days a week if I was lucky.  Most of my income came from my night job as a projectionist at a movie theater, which paid surprisingly well for the amount of actual work that you do on a normal night.  You’re paid well to be able to fix problems if they happen, which, if you’re good at the job, they rarely do.

Anyway, 24 year old me was completely floored by how many packages I had to deliver between Veteran’s Day and Christmas.  I was delivering mail out of my Geo Prism at the time, and most days I could barely fit all of the packages in.  Once or twice I had to leave a few for a second trip.  I complained bitterly.

This year, what 24 year old me complained about as being the worst, most horrible month of his postal career, is a normal day outside of December these days.  The volume of actual mail may have decreased since that time, but the volume of packages has gone up so much that these days, the normal amount of packages per day looks like Christmas when I first started.

So what does Christmas look like now?  Well.  It’s a nightmare.  On a typical day I deliver 120-150 packages a day, ranging in size from small things that fit in a mailbox, to medium sized ones that fit into parcel lockers, to harge ones that have to be taken to people’s doors.  These days people will buy just about anything online.  I have a man on my route that buys all of his groceries from Amazon.  And really, I can’t complain, because I do the same thing.  The convenience of being able to buy online and stay seated in the comfort of my home, rather than going out to a store full of people that may or may not have what I want is too irresistable.  Ever since Veteran’s Day this year I have been delivering 400-500 packages a day.  On top of that, package runners have been taking an additional 100-200 from my route every day because I can’t fit them into my mail truck, and even if I could, there’s not enough time in the day to deliver them all myself.  I’ve been working 10-14 hours a day.  My scanner gets so much use that the battery started dying around noon.  It got so bad that the postmaster actually had a scanner charger installed into my mail truck so that I could keep going without having to come back to the office and swap out scanners.  Now, 500-700 packages for a route might not sound like a huge number, but consider this: there are 776 houses currently on my route.  Some days this month I have had a package for almost every single house on my entire route.

24 year old Eric would have dropped dead just seeing the packages stacked up at his case in the post office in the morning.  Even just 14 years ago, Christmas at the post office was a completely different beast than it is today.  Today it is a soul-crushing nightmare that gets worse and worse every year.

That being said, after 14 years of being a mail man, I kind of just hate the entirety of the Christmas season.  I’m not angry or bitter at those who order all of their Christmas gifts online.  It is because of those packages that the Post Office can pay my salary.  But boy does it hurt sometimes.

So, with another Christmas over and done with... FINALLY... Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and bah-freaking-humbug to all.  Enjoy it, but don’t expect me to.

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