(right): Southwest Area photo shows a standardized case with all
wicket dividers the same size.
I am a letter carrier at the Deadwood Post Office, a medium-sized
post office in Texas. I don't like to complain, or maybe I do, but
it would be nice just once if management could work WITH carriers,
instead of against them. This is my story of what happened today:
when I arrived at work there were five "suits" standing around
waiting for the letter carriers to clock in. The "suits" are
actually station managers at other post offices in the area. The
reason I say "suits" is that these guys were dressed in suits, not
their normal everyday manager (work-casual) clothes. Even our
station manager, who normally dresses in disco clothes (no joke)
was wearing business attire. These guys, Level 21ish managers,
probably make $60,000+ each.
carriers clocked in, the suits were ready. Already the suits had
found a carrier who had cased up his ADVO cards on undertime the
day before. Never mind that this carrier was trying to get a head
start on the next day - this carrier had committed a horrible sin
in the eyes of the suits. You see, according to SOP (Standard
Operating Procedure) ADVO cards are to be cased last. This is
official since this team of five guys were actually at the station
to establish SOP among all stations in the area. This was an SOP
team, and SOP they were going to have.
ADVO cards last was news to us. Even the station manager and floor
supervisor thought that ADVO cards were to be cased first, since
once the casing (sorting) wickets are filled, it's hard to case
the razor thin, flaccid ADVO cards into the case. This glaring
deficiency had been noted separately by each suit, as each
wandered aimlessly through the station taking their little notes.
A couple of
minutes later, the carrier for Route 29 was called to the office.
There stood the suits, the station manager, the delivery
supervisor, and the union steward. The carrier was immediately
informed that this was a pre-disciplinary hearing. It seems that
the carrier had left the window on his LLV cracked, a clear
violation of safety procedures that could enable a mad bomber to
slip a very thin bomb through the window. The carrier didn't know
that the window had to be all the way up. (Let that be a lesson to
the rest of you.) After some thoughtful deliberations, the suits
let the carrier off with an Official Discussion.
Later in the
morning, the suits caught a carrier cleaning up his work area by
placing his empty mail trays into the empty mail trays APC. The
suits descended on the APC and found trays with the sorting tag
still in the sleeve. This was also duly noted.
carriers left to deliver their mail, the suits thoroughly examined
the carriers' sorting cases. This thorough examination revealed
that many cases had tall wicket dividers to separate cased mail,
instead of the medium-sized wicket dividers. This is also a clear
violation and was also duly noted. There WILL BE NO MORE TALL
WICKET DIVIDERS USED. Some cases were also found to be marked with
a marker, so that different walk segments of the route were
identified. The supplementary marks are designed to help letter
carriers not familiar with a route (new carrier on route) to
separate mail into delivery blocks. These marks were also found to
be against SOP, and local management was ordered to order new
plastic sleeves for the address labels on the case. The team also
discovered a few personal items in the drawers of the cases. Among
the prohibited items found were a couple of packages of crackers.
This was also duly noted.
In a related development, the Hot Case case was found to be not
painted red. After all, it is a Hot Case, and I guess it must look
hot. Somewhere, a manager with apparently not much else to do,
came up with the bright red idea to have all of the Hot Cases
painted red, so that carriers will be sure to get their Hot Case
mail every morning. Now, all Hot Cases in the region must be
painted red. The PM supervisor was immediately tasked with this
important project. He was dispatched to buy red spray paint, and
upon his successful return he spray painted the entire damn Hot
Case. (In the process, he got red paint all over the floor - he
didn't think to protect the floor with cardboard or paper. He said
that the janitor could scrape the paint up in the morning.) The
carriers, who were working all day actually delivering mail, all
had a big chuckle when they returned and saw the bright red
monstrosity. In the spirit of the project, some of the carriers
now want to add flames to the Hot Case to make it really hot!
clocked out for the day, the red-handed PM supervisor told us that
we would be having a VERY BIG MEETING in the morning to address
all of these issues.
This all seems much ado about nothing - and that's the point.
Obviously the Post Office has a surplus of managers who have
enough time to dissect the minutiae of this station. I am sure
that in a year or two, a gaggle of managers will descend on the
station once again and discover "OHMYGOSH, the carriers are casing
their ADVO cards last! That is against SOP. They MUST be cased up
many aspects of postal reform that need to be addressed. In that,
there are many substantial issues that need to be addressed
specific to carriers and carrying mail. Proper pay incentives,
fatter workloads (less First Class, more BULK(Y) mail), the
adjustment of routes and DPS problems are some of those issues.
Red Hot Cases, tall wicket dividers, and cracked LLV windows
Hopefully, upcoming postal reform will address the overpopulation
of middle management too!
And if the
Post Office wants to standardize the minutiae of letter carrier
operations, then fine. But a little more nicety and a little less
Storm Trooper tactics might help the overall process.