Delivering everything from those bills collecting dust on your side table to those Amazon boxes you can’t wait to tear into, mail carriers provide an essential service that few homes or businesses could operate without. But, aside from the occasional idle chitchat, many people don’t know much about their mail carrier.
It’s a shame, because their jobs are vastly more interesting than you ever thought. With that in mind, here are the 20 secrets mailmen won’t tell you, which may just change the way you think of those heroes who don’t let anything stand between you and your online orders. And the next time you go to place an order, make it one of the 40 Items Every Man Over 40 Should Have in His Home!
The Oldest Carriers Get the Best Routes
Think your mail carrier lucked into that idyllic route along your tree-lined block? Hardly. Routes are doled out via a bidding process, and the carriers who’ve been there the longest get first pick. “Routes go into a two-week bidding process and bidding is based off seniority,” says one mail carrier. “So, the best routes have the oldest carriers on them.”
They Might Be Making More Than You Think
While your mailman probably isn’t buying yachts on his time off, they may be making a more livable wage than you’d imagine. “Carriers make a maximum of 28 [dollars] an hour,” says one postal employee. A job that pays $60K a year and doesn’t require a college degree? Not too shabby. And when you want to increase your own earning potential, the 40 Best Ways to Jumpstart Your Career will have you earning more in no time.
But It Can Take a Long Time to Start Seeing Checks
However, that doesn’t mean your carrier is flush from the second they sign on. In fact, many postal employees say that it takes a long time between landing the job and when they see their first paycheck. “[It] took me four months from first application to first day being paid,” says one carrier. Luckily, when that cash does start rolling in, you can keep more of it with the 40 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Paycheck!
Their Hours Are Ridiculously Long
Your mail carrier is probably putting in longer days than most office workers. “Depending on where you end up, you could be working long (8-12 hour) days, 7 days a week until you make career [carrier],” says one postal employee.
And the Day Starts Early
Looking for a job that lets you sleep in? The postal service probably isn’t for you. “A typical work day starts at 6:30 in the morning,” says one carrier. Fortunately, if you need to get a jumpstart in the morning, the 30 Best Foods for Maximizing Your Energy Levels will give you a major boost.
They Can’t Accept Your Tips
While it’s tempting to tip your mail carrier at the holidays, taking a $20 from you is going against the rules of their trade. Postal carriers can’t accept money or gift cards from you, and if they do, they risk losing their jobs.
But That Doesn’t Mean Gifts Go Unappreciated
That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything nice for your mail carrier, however. Snag a gift under $20 and they can bring it home without issue. Better yet, offer them a snack or some water when they come by your house. “Some of my kindest customers hand me a cold water on the hottest of days,” says one mail carrier. “It’s not expected at all, just really appreciated.”
Some Carry Pepper Spray
You may think your dog is a perfect angel, but your mail carrier knows better. In fact, many, if not most, mail carriers have pepper spray on them in case Fido gets out of hand. “I’ve been chased by dogs—German Shepherd, pitts, mutts, etcetera,” says one mail carrier. “[I] once sprayed a Jack Russell Terrier. Felt bad, but rules are rules.”
People Don’t Always Feel the Need to Dress to Answer the Door
Unless you’re trying to make your mail carrier uncomfortable, put on some clothes before you open the door. One mail carrier recalls being greeted by an attractive customer in nothing but a towel, while another says she’s often asked in by her customers. “I receive CONSTANT propositions,” she says. “One guy (81 years old) rose from his motorized cart one day and surprised me with his strength by locking me in a hug and kissing me.”
They Hate Staples
Unless you want to physically scar your mail carrier, steer clear of closing packages with staples. “Don’t put staples in envelopes/packaging,” says one carrier. “They cut the fingers to shreds when the poor post man/woman reaches into the mail sack.”
And Your Door’s Mail Slot
Your straight-out-of-Architectural-Digest home may be full of charming period detail, like a tiny mail slot in the front door, but your mail carrier probably doesn’t love that feature as much as you do. “We can’t stand there all day and fiddle around shoving mail in a slot that doesn’t fit. I hate bending, folding and tearing mail just to get it in your door. And yes, it does take time and it’s a royal pain in the ass,” says one mail carrier.
They Can Transfer Anywhere in the Country
If you’re a mail carrier, one of the major benefits of the job is portability. Want to trade in snowy Syracuse for the beaches of Oahu? Go right ahead. “After a year of being a career [carrier] in my home city, I can request to go to any state,” reveals one postal service employee.
Low Mail Volume Means More Work
Our increasing use of digital communications is causing quite the predicament for future generations of mail carriers. The postal service is now making career employees work longer routes instead of hiring temps. “With the decline in mail volume, routes are evaluated/timed every few months and adjusted accordingly. As a result, it is very rare to be able to finish early. Most routes in my office are actually over 8 hours now,” says one mail carrier.
Those Fliers and Coupon Books Are Annoying to Them, Too
All those unwanted pieces of mail that end up in your recycling bin are just as annoying to your mail carrier as they are to you. “We hate junk mail as much or more than you do,” says one mail carrier.” You’d probably be frustrated spending your day toting around things you know customers will just throw out, too.
Fewer Carriers Are Full-Time Employees
Think your mail carrier has benefits and a pension in their future? Think again. “They haven’t hired career employees in about 6 years. They are doing ‘more with less,’” says one carrier. “The routes in my office are longer than they have ever been.”
People Send One Another Some Surprising Things
If you think your mail carrier is scandalized by the occasional Victoria’s Secret package delivered to your house, think again. Mail carriers see way weirder stuff on a daily basis. “People mail chickens frequently,” confesses one mail carrier.
And yes, people do send drugs through the mail with shocking regularity. And yes, it’s still a crime. “Weed, lots of freaking weed,” says one carrier about the contraband he’s encountered. If you’ve acquired some goodies of your own, discover the 12 Ways Weed Affects Your, Um, Private Life!
And the Remains of Their Loved Ones
Don’t know what to do with grandma’s ashes? It turns out you may be able to slap a few stamps on her and send her to your cousin. “I just want to get it out in the open that, yes, you can mail cremated human remains,” says one mail carrier.
If You’re Getting Ghost Packages, Your Driver May Have Lied
If you keep getting delivery confirmation notices, but your packages aren’t arriving, the postal carrier might not be telling you the whole truth. One postal carrier explains that impassible driveways or scary pets may mean your package ends up back at the central office. “Some postmasters tell us to drop us at the property line regardless, while others tell us to scan it and take it back to the post office,” says one carrier.
No, You Can’t Get One of Those Uniforms for Yourself
Sorry, guys: you’ll just have to improvise when it comes time for your postal service role play. “They are surprisingly careful with the uniforms. Only carriers can buy them and we aren’t supposed to give them away. And yes, expensive for the polyester that you are buying,” says one mail carrier.
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