Mr. Postman

12/18/1961, Bill Kuenzel/Miami Herald Staff-- Postal mailman T. William Jerome
12/18/1961, Bill Kuenzel/Miami Herald Staff– Postal mailman T. William Jerome

Wait, oh yes wait a minute mister postman
Wait, wait mister postman
Mister postman look and see
Is there a letter in your bag for me

Please Mr. Postman” – written by Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, and Robert Bateman.

On January 23rd  of this year, there was a package wedged tightly in my mailbox that took me quite a bit of time and effort to remove. I finally got it out, but I was pissed that I’d had to work so hard. That one event instigated a series of events that have become almost comical in this seemingly never-ending saga.

After a bit of a struggle, I brought the package inside and immediately went to my computer and posted the following on Twitter:

“I went to my mailbox today to find this. Can someone please explain to me what the mail carrier was thinking? ‪@USPS

The US Postal Service responded, apologizing and asking for more details. I wasn’t comfortable giving them my address because I knew this was going to get back to my mail carrier. However, I also realized that if I was going to bitch about something I needed to follow through and give them the details.

Sure enough, a few weeks later I strolled to my mailbox to find my mail carrier at the mailbox. He was upset about my using the internet to vent my anger and while I could certainly see his point of view, I also tried to explain why I had gotten so upset.

The postman repeatedly suggested I call the post office whenever I have an issue. I’m sure that as a postal employee his experience when he calls in is different than the experience the rest of us have when we try to call in. I have tried a few times through the years and if I’d allowed it to happen, I would probably still be on hold with them.

Long story short; the postman and I eventually came to a place of not exactly understanding each other, but accepting the other persons point of view. That is where I should have left it.

Instead, when a neighborhood Facebook page had a complaint about the mail service in our area, I jumped right in. I posted about my experience:

“A few weeks ago there was a package in my mailbox that was in there so tight I cut my hands trying to get it out. I posted a picture of it on twitter and the USPS twitter site saw it and responded. It led to a rather bitter conversation with the carrier next time I saw him, but it did get results.”

No one commented on the post, but I didn’t feel great about having posted it. I didn’t feel bad enough to remove it, but I did second guess my decision to post it.

A few weeks after that brilliant move, my mail carrier rang my doorbell with a delivery. The first words out of his mouth were “Do I look bitter?” Shit. Damn. You can add any other expletives of your choice because they were probably running through my mind. I’d gotten caught being a dickhead.

In many ways, it was easy to take out my frustration on my mail carrier. Postal workers have gotten a bad rap in the last few decades. It’s not a coincidence that when someone gets irrationally angry they threaten to “go postal.”

“Going postal, in American English slang, means becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment.

The expression derives from a series of incidents from 1986 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder.” – Wikipedia

On top of that, whether it’s right or wrong, there is a perception that the employees in the post offices are the quintessential bureaucrats. A trip to the post office is almost always a long arduous event. Too often when I’ve had to go there I’ve waited in a long line while one lone employee shuffles through serving the line. I have no memory of any post office employee hustling to help get people through the line more quickly or efficiently. Frequently, while the one person waits on people a multitude of other employees can be heard in the back, out of sight, but loudly having a good time.

All of this is a mix of fact and perception, but in all fairness, has nothing to do with the person who put an oversize package in my mail box. The person who made this error is a person, just like me. Just like me he makes mistakes and errors in judgment. Just like me he deserves to move forward without one mistake being held over his head.

My mail carrier has a job that requires a lot of physical exertion. He does, like the motto says, deliver in snow, rain, and heat, (even though I’m not so sure about gloom of night.) I am an athlete who trained in all sorts of weather and I can tell you, it sucks to have to go outside when everyone else is staying inside. Ice in the winter can be deadly and heat in the summer can make you feel like you’d rather die.

He has a job that is not as secure as postal jobs were once considered to be. When I was in my twenties everyone I knew who hadn’t trained for a specific career wanted to get on with the postal service. Back then, mail was the only way for information to be delivered to individuals. Who knew that technology would make letters feel almost obsolete? I can only imagine what it’s like to take a job that you think will make you secure for the rest of your career only to find years later that your job could become extinct at any time.

On top of that, the mail carrier delivers a service I need. Because so few items are routinely mailed these days, what is delivered is usually either something I ordered, or something from family or a friend. I routinely receive skincare products that I can only get online and they are a Godsend for someone with severe skin allergies like myself. Since my mother passed away a few months ago, the mail has brought me legal documents and memento’s from her estate.

I’ve thought a lot about the whole experience and I feel I need to apologize. Not for my initial upset, but for not letting go of it. My mail carrier made an error in judgment, but I should’ve let it go and moved forward after our first discussion. I am big on talking about letting go and moving forward, but this was a classic case of not walking the walk.

So, Mr. Postman, I apologize.

What are your thoughts?