Technically, your truck was supposed to be parked at your designated lunch stop for the entire 30 minutes. I occasionally used a Dairy Queen drive-thru about a half block off the route, but it was mostly the previous evenings’s leftovers in a lunchbox.
I forgot to mention Managed Service Points…Which we called Management Spy Points. There were barcodes on between six and twelve boxes on your route, including just before and just after lunch, which had to be scanned to keep track of your progress. you were supposed to be there the same time every day, regardless of mail volume or weather conditions. Just another way of telling us we couldn’t be trusted to do a good job on our own.
Dogs are highly individual…some take a dislike to a particular carrier, often the sub, and are fine with the regular. Some are just nasty and will even come over (or under) a fence to get to you. I had one break a window trying to get at me and I was only saved by the screen! Little ones are sneaky and hide in the bushes, but most of them can’t do much but untie your shoes. It’s been suggested that some of the animosity comes from being house trained by being swatted with a rolled up newspaper and the bundle of mail in your hand reminds them of that. They’re very territorial and seldom cause a problem if they’re just running at large, they’re only defensive at home.
One dog lesson you learn early is to never put your fingers through a mail slot…dogs often bite anything that comes through and you don’t want it to be your hand! It’s sometimes amusing to feed a check thru and hear it being shredded, lol.
Yes, there are places you dislike delivering to…up a long flight of rickety steps, up a hill, bad sidewalks, dog dirt in in the yard, nasty sharp-edged too small mailboxes, small door slots at address that got a lot of mail,that sort of thing.
I delivered in very hilly country, so there were some long uphill trudges that were tough at the end of the day, especially after I turned 50.
New neighborhoods are now set up for curbline delivery, or even cluster boxes. This isn’t to make it easier for the carriers, its quicker (if less convenient for the customer) so more deliveries can be put on a route. Oh, by the way, my route was about 535 deliveries most of the time which is a little above average as far as I know) And yes, old delivery points are grandfathered in, it takes a bit of doing to change them.
Routes are bid on by seniority. There are lots of things that make one more desirable than others, including mail volume, terrain, nature of the neighborhoods and in some cases days off. At my office, the day off went with the route and I had Thursdays off for about 18 years.
Other offices use a rotating day-off schedule.
I never resented picking up outgoing mail, but some guys did. The official rule is that we have to take it if we had a delivery for that address that day, but I would always go get it if I could see it. I knew that when I had something to send I wanted it gone as soon as possible. Outgoing packages could be a problem, but the last couple of years of my carreer there was a program where customers (like big ebay sellers) could notify us in advance by e mail so we’d be expecting it.
Cell phones didn’t become common until the last few years that I carried. I never let management know I had one because they were in the habit of asking guys to call in to let them know where they were on the route so they could maybe bring them another relay or ask them to do a collection or something.
Yes, we got Christmas gifts and until about 10 years ago anything over token value was prohibited. We got the “ethics” talk every year about the beginning of November and we forgot it immediately. Tips were all over the place, depending on the customer’s circumstances. I recieved tips as low as $2 and as high as $40. My best neighborhood, tip-wise, was made up of retired working-class black people. They seemed to appreciate someone working for them and being kind and pleasant.
Gifts included cookies, candy, fudge, socks, whiskey (bottle or shot), wine, beer (one old guy would invite me into his basement and load up my sack with as many beers as it would hold, lol) about a billion coffee mugs, a scarf and a couple of hugs and kisses. Some really good had lotion from an operating room nurse who understood about chapped hands. This sounds corny, but the best gift was a middle aged lady who smiled at me and said “Thank you for being such a wonderful mailman!” Really.
Now I believe there is a $20 limit on gratuities, but it’s pretty much ignored. Some people gift you in person, like you’d tip a bellman, but most put it in a card marked “mailman” or with your name on it. You never open them til you get home.
Everything was appreciated as a token of thanks, but there is a limit to how many cookis you can eat. Often you’d put them on the table in the swing (break) room to share with the clerks who didn’t get that kind of stuff.
Every carrier is different, but most of us, especially the ones who had the same route for a long time, thought of our customers as friends and family. That was the best part of the experience, and the part that made retirement emotionally wrenching. To be honest, I’d still be doing it now (I’m 58) if I could take management, but you can take just so much of working your butt off and being told how lazy and ineficient you are.