Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why am I doing this?

I'm sure you've asked yourself that question at some time. I try to stay in denial so I can maintain my positive (read that - head in the sand) perspective when it comes to delivering the mail. There were probably a thousand substitute mail carriers asking themselves that very question Monday. The Monday or Tuesday following a holiday is always a nightmare.

It seemed like the only thing I didn't have to load was a saddle for the mail pony.

Substitutes get mostly the heavy mail days and since we aren't paid by the hour but by estimated average time to deliver the route, it's easy to get discouraged. Some substitutes wait for 5, 10, 12, or even 17 years to become a regular with a regular route, benefits, annual and sick leave, and their own personal slave (known ever so fondly as the sub). The regular gets their choice of a day off during the week. I'm just lucky that my carrier likes Saturdays off because Mondays are hell.

There are a lot of misconceptions about delivering the mail which I will address in a separate blog. But something more urgent on the horizon is the talk about eliminating Saturday deliveries.

While that might seem like a great idea for the postal service's budget, there are serious problems with the concept. Think what those Mondays would be like with no Saturday delivery. I can tell you the word would be IMPOSSIBLE. If they eliminate a weekday, then the businesses who depend on mail during the week will be unhappy and their schedules disrupted. Once they eliminate a day of delivery, the current system of categorizing routes and scheduling employees collapses.

The whole postal delivery system depends on a bank of part time/on call 24/7 employees called substitutes to make sure the mail goes through. We know that. We know we will get the bad days, the heavy days, the inconvenient days. We know we can be called in the day before, the morning of, or in the middle of the regular carrier's route. We know we are expected to use our own vehicle and pay for all our expenses out of the usually insufficient gas allowance. We know that until we get on regular we will work every holiday, every Thanksgiving, every Christmas.

What kind of job is that? Why do we do it? Remind me again?

Is it to get a regular forty hour a week position as a regular which will probably never happen (I'm so far down on the totem pole)?

Oh that's right. The pay is good and it allows me to write.
Well, okay then. Bring on the mail.


Leah Braemel said...

Um. I can't remember a time when Canada had Saturday delivery so if the US is looking to Canada for a model, watch out.

(Although from what I understand my aunt in England gets delivery TWICE a day, including Saturdays. Do English people write more?)

From what I understand from all the union/protests going on up here, they're getting rid of the 40 hour positions at a lot of the government places and going with temps so they don't have to pay benefits, and so they can bust the unions.

But I really think they should be looking at the person who does that route regularly and see if she continually arranges for the day after a long weekend off. I know at the places that I used to work, that if you didn't work your regular shift BEFORE and AFTER a long weekend, you'd be penalized by not paying you for the stat holiday or for the day you took off, and eventually let go.

Anonymous said...

You are so right, Leah. I imagine Canada's success is something they've looked at many times. But some of the posts I've been reading today suggest many different scenarios, none of them good for the part time postal worker.

May be working more in the crawfish business next year...

As long as I can write.