Monday, September 27, 2010

life of a letter carrier... the pre story part II

Training was good, there were three of us in the training class (which is a lot), and we were all coming to the same post office.
Unfortunately the other two were being trained for a virtually indistinguishable job that pays better (the training was the same). I just didn't have to take the test that they took. I would have. I could have. I don't even hate tests. But because they had taken the test (assessment) they both had seniority over me.

We had a really good group. I enjoyed both of the other guys. I think I have a little more in common with one of them, but they are both cool, and the classes were good.
Actually the classes almost seemed... easy. I mean there was a lot to go over, but I was surprised that with what seemed like a fairly laid back pace, somehow we seemed to cover all the material.

Our trainer was cool too. She works in a different office than we were training in, so we got to see a couple different locations.
Here are some of the things that I noticed:
1) Post office = diversity.
I guess it wasn't too surprising, but as we toured the different post offices I noticed that I was the minority. Still it would be hard to say what if anything was the majority. There were old men and younger men. There were some deeply religious folks, and some who couldn't care less. Ethnicity? yeah they pretty much covered that too. And the women were easily as diverse as the men. And yet with all this diversity, there seemed to be a kind of oneness too. I mean it didn't matter what people were, because we were all in it together. Everyone was on one team.
(well technically there were three teams, 'the rurals,' 'the cities' and 'the clerks'. Interestingly they are all highly compartmentalized. You're either one or the other, you can't be both, and usually you pick one track and then stay on it.)

2) There is no dress code. Not for Rural carriers anyway.
Technically there is a bit of a dress code... I have to wear closed toed shoes, preferably with a strong leather upper. Oh and I can't where a postal uniform, but other than that I should be good to go. Oh yeah, and no political messages (at least not that advocate one side or another).

3) The third thing that I noticed was that some of these REALLY liked there jobs.
Now this could be, at least for the rural carriers, that they are paid by the route, so if perchance they finish early, they still get the same days wage. Or it could be that there's a bit of variety to their job, or who knows, maybe they're just crazy, but whatever it is some of them seem pretty happy, and that was pretty impressive.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Special Delivery: Tales of a Postman - Prologue

I thought it would be interesting to share some of my experiences working with the USPS. In a way this is tricky, because there is a lot that I can't talk about... I can't tell you where somebody lives, and I certainly can't tell you what I have given them. But still there are things, some of which amuse me, that I think would be interesting so I thought I would share.

First the Prologue,
It's kind of tough these days finding jobs and what not.
I have been looking for a while, though not very intently... Except perhaps when I remember how crazy my job (my old job) gets around Christmas time.

But I did have one rule no peanuts, I wanted a real job, and I felt I was worth real money. So, while I would take minimum wage if circumstances got desparate, I decided to look a little bit higher.

One day a friend of mine told me that the post office was hiring. I'm not sure I was excited about the idea of working with the post office, but the pay was alright, and the schedule was awesome... meaning it would fit well with the other things that I was doing at the time. Over time my opinion about working for the post office has changed, a couple of times actually, but I'm sure I'll hit all that stuff later.

Due to a slight error on my part, I was not able to apply for the job that I really wanted, but there was another job, also with decent hours and pay, that I was eligible for. SIDENOTE: While it's is in reality about like any other application process, taking roughly 2-3 hours (which I had planned)a person a male applying for a job with the post office will probably need a few extra trinkets... like their selective service number. SIDENOTE #2: the Selective Service website is not in my experience entirely reliable (it was mostly dead when I tried to use it) and SIDENOTE #3: If I had known that the 1-800 number is quick and easy, and always available (computer automated), I might not have wasted so much of my time trying to get their website to work, and I might have been able to get things done in time for the original jobs, deadline.

Then, something pretty ordinary happened... Nothing.
It was weeks, perhaps even months, before I actually heard anything, and I didn't hear much. But the Post office wanted to do either a background check or a drug test, but they wouldn't actually tell me which one.

A few more weeks, and I got an interview, but it wasn't my only application out there. Still I tried to play it cool, and let them know that I thought I would be good, but what if I did get other interviews? I didn't. I didn't have to worry about it.

More weeks passed, and as seemed to be the pattern, just when I had decided that nothing was happening, something happened, they wanted to give me a driving test.
'Test?' I thought, 'that can never be good'. Still, it was progress, so I decided it was a step in the right direction. I admit I was nervous, more so than I needed to be (which for the record is basically what the postmaster told me before hand), it's pretty basic, but some people really can't drive.
Next came the Drug test, ah that first one must have been the Background check.

And then they wanted to train me, I guess I got the job. They did tell me I was hired, but I think I actually got the letter about training first (but hey, I'm a pretty smart guy, I put two and two together). And thus began my journey into the fabulous world or mail. I'll try to write more about this later. ttfn