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View Full Version : U.S. Mail Carriers wearing rubber gloves


Shinna Minna Ma
09-19-2017, 02:03 PM
I was in the U.S. for a whirlwind one week trip, and I noticed that mail carriers were wearing latex gloves.

Why?

Joey P
09-19-2017, 02:09 PM
I've never seen it.
When did you see it, was it recently? Was it a while back (and possibly an isolated even like a ricin scare?)

Was it 'everyone' or just one person? If it was just one person it could have just been someone that was trying to keep their hands from drying out of getting a paper cut flipping through all that paper every day or even trying to protect the mail from something on their skin (ie burn/lesion/cut etc). They could also be a bit of a germaphobe.

If it was everyone, I don't know, but I can say that I've never seen it. I can also say that latex or vinyl gloves get uncomfortable in a hurry once you start sweating in them.

Hampshire
09-19-2017, 02:46 PM
I've seen just my local carrier wearing them. I assumed it was probably for one of two reasons.
Either he figures there's a lot of germs going around in mail that is handled by so many people and is being protective, or the gloves give him better grip on the mail for sorting it on his route.

Enright3
09-19-2017, 03:05 PM
My first assumption would be that if you're touching things thousands of times a day; your hands will inevitably get dirty.

Happy Lendervedder
09-19-2017, 03:22 PM
As I opened this thread, my mailman pulled up to stuff my box. I checked, and he was bareback.

Johnny L.A.
09-19-2017, 03:29 PM
My first assumption would be that if you're touching things thousands of times a day; your hands will inevitably get dirty.

That's probably correct.

But I never saw postal workers using gloves until after the 2001 anthrax attacks.

48Willys
09-19-2017, 03:32 PM
All three letter carriers that serve my route "go bare back" in the summertime.

I have never seen a letter carrier wear any kind of Latex gloves. Warm winter gloves are another story here in Colorado.

jnglmassiv
09-19-2017, 04:01 PM
Our usual letter carrier doesn't wear them but I've seen some grocery store cashiers gloved up lately.

t-bonham@scc.net
09-19-2017, 04:16 PM
Here in Minnesota, carriers commonly wear gloves in the winter. But it's hard to find gloves that aren't too slippery when carrying letters. (Not sorting, that's done inside at the Post Office before going out on the route.)

I once saw a carrier wearing rubber gloves inside a heavy mitten -- he took the gloved hand out to handle the mail, but had a mitten to put it back inside for longer walks. But only 1 guy; apparently not a very common thing.

vtxrider
09-19-2017, 04:28 PM
I have noticed at least in the last couple of months that the carrier that delivers on our street is wearing latex gloves. She is driving in the postal vehicle and this is in GA, where the temps are currently between 70 and 80 at the time she delivers to our house.

I guess since my daughter likes to wear them to do dishes and all, I just figured that was a personal decision and that she is trying to avoid germs.

Jim's Son
09-19-2017, 05:21 PM
Never seen carriers wear latex gloves but in USPS processing plants lots of clerks do. Some of the bulk rate mail (you know, glossy large postcards saying join Joe's Gym for $9.99 a month plus a small service fee of $99 a month) can be very sharp, causing paper cuts. In the local post offices, they do have latex gloves in supplies but it's the clerks who sort unmachineable mail into carrier routes who wear them. Thete is a big difference between varriers and clerks; different unions and responsibilities.

GiantRat
09-19-2017, 05:41 PM
I used to carry mail over summer and winter breaks during college. I often wore rubber fingertip "condoms" on my right thumb, index, and middle fingers to give me grip as I flipped through the two stacks of letter mail in my left hand and the "flats" (magazines and such) on my left arm. Also, as others have pointed out, paper cuts and dry cracking skin are a real thing.

And, yes, by the end of the day, your hands feel very dry and grimy. It's nice to have a route with a decent place to take a break that has a bathroom to make your bladder gladder and wash your hands.

Joey P
09-19-2017, 05:53 PM
My first assumption would be that if you're touching things thousands of times a day; your hands will inevitably get dirty.
But unlike, say, money, the envelopes are generally clean. If you touch thousands of envelopes your hands should still be clean. If you touch thousands of things that have been touched by thousands of people over the past few years, well, that's kinda gross (at least to me, I count money and feel kinda gross when I'm done).

Here in Minnesota, carriers commonly wear gloves in the winter. But it's hard to find gloves that aren't too slippery when carrying letters. (Not sorting, that's done inside at the Post Office before going out on the route.)

I once saw a carrier wearing rubber gloves inside a heavy mitten -- he took the gloved hand out to handle the mail, but had a mitten to put it back inside for longer walks. But only 1 guy; apparently not a very common thing.
I read something a few days ago about photogs at the South Pole talking about how difficult it was to take pictures there because their hands would get so cold every time they had to take their gloves off. Someone in the comments section mentioned that they did some kind of write up or something back in the 70's about wearing a very thin liner (like a silk glove) under your heavy glove or mitten for just this reason. You can take your heavy glove off to manipulate the camera in the arctic cold and it buys your a few minutes.
I'm curious if this is what your letter carrier was doing. Just using them as a buffer from the cold for a few second. Of course, they could have just been wearing them for the same reason as everyone else and it was cold out too.

Quartz
09-19-2017, 06:27 PM
Someone in the comments section mentioned that they did some kind of write up or something back in the 70's about wearing a very thin liner (like a silk glove) under your heavy glove

WW2 fighter pilots used to wear this combo. It's mentioned in Geoffrey Wellum's autobiography, First Light, that it really helped with high altitude (40k feet IIRC) flying.

TSBG
09-19-2017, 07:34 PM
I used to do the silk gloves/heavy mittens combo back when I did a lot of cross country skiing, not that I was in anything like Arctic conditions.

Qadgop the Mercotan
09-19-2017, 08:03 PM
I suspect carfentanyl, or one of its even more potent variants. Lethal thru skin contact.

RivkahChaya
09-19-2017, 08:03 PM
There was a clerk at Walmart wearing one latex glove on one hand once, and you could see that she had a couple of Band-Aids (or whatever brand) under it. I assume she had met with some kind of accident, and was trying to keep several wounds clean, and Band-Aids come off really easily. The last thing you want is for one to stick to a customer's goods.

Plus, the hand maybe didn't look so appealing to be touching everyones' stuff bareback.

The carrier could have had a skin condition that may have made him especially vulnerable to cuts, or maybe just didn't look good, and customers could have done double takes.

Thing is, I can come up with hypotheticals all day for a reason that a particular carrier would choose to do this either temporarily or permanently.

But it is not a regulation of the USPS, if that is the question.

TSBG
09-19-2017, 08:14 PM
I've seen mail carriers wearing them. I assume it's for defense against germs. Do you know how many germs are out there??? I'm not sure, but I believe quite a lot.

anomalous1
09-20-2017, 12:16 AM
ive seen two mail carriers wear them, once in my old neighborhood and once in my new neighborhood. One was the purple nitrile gloves and another the clear type (vinyl?). Never asked why. I could only assume I'd rather wash my hands many times throughout the day to get ink and dirt off, rather than deal with the sticky sweaty mess. Who knows.

TSBG
09-20-2017, 12:26 AM
You're right, they must be sweaty as hell. I live in one of the hotter parts of LA county and the nitrile gloves turn into a swimming pool during, say, an hour long painting project.

Musicat
09-20-2017, 04:57 AM
I've seen mail carriers wearing them. I assume it's for defense against germs. Do you know how many germs are out there??? I'm not sure, but I believe quite a lot.I tried counting them once, but ran out of fingers and toes.

Hi Medlo
09-20-2017, 08:26 AM
I'm a retired letter carrier. After the anthrax attacks in the early 2000's Nitrile gloves were available to us and we were advised to glove up when emptying collection boxes. That lasted a few weeks.
Also,handling paper all day is very drying to the fingertips and often results in painful splits there. The carrier may have been wearing gloves either to prevent that or to protect their fingertips while they healed.

Ike Witt
09-20-2017, 09:14 AM
My regular mailman wears gloves and I live in Canada.

Elendil's Heir
09-20-2017, 10:32 AM
Never saw a USPS postal carrier wearing gloves.

brossa
09-20-2017, 03:34 PM
I had a college roommate who worked in a mailroom, and handling all that paper dried his hands out terribly, to the point of the skin cracking and bleeding. This was despite many lotions and potions, used obsessively. He eventually started wearing nitrile gloves and the problem resolved. I used to tease him about it until I spent a whole day stuffing envelopes and my hands ended up dry and irritated too.

jharvey963
09-21-2017, 01:03 AM
My first assumption would be that if you're touching things thousands of times a day; your hands will inevitably get dirty.

I suspect this is correct. I reshelve books in a library and I wear latex gloves for just that reason.

J.

jasg
09-26-2017, 11:33 AM
My USPS carrier wears blue latex gloves. After seeing this thread, I asked him why. He said to keep his hands clean.

Jackmannii
09-26-2017, 11:37 AM
I suspect carfentanyl, or one of its even more potent variants. Lethal thru skin contact.Or past bad experiences with the Norovirus family on E. Main St.

bordelond
09-26-2017, 12:14 PM
My USPS carrier wears blue latex gloves. After seeing this thread, I asked him why. He said to keep his hands clean.

Maybe half the carriers around here also wear those blue latex gloves, and have been over the last several years. Daytime high temps are still around 90F here, so it's not a cold-weather thing at all.

4d3fect
09-26-2017, 06:46 PM
Grip, mainly. It can help with dirt, &c but not a cure-all for it.

TimeWinder
09-26-2017, 07:59 PM
I tried counting them once, but ran out of fingers and toes.

You were so close. The correct answer is "11."