Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't Forget Your Mail Carrier

I love my mailman. His name is Brian and he comes every day at four. I hear him singing and it always brightens my day. I look forward to him coming up my walkway, earbuds in and singing away to whatever is playing on his iPod. If I'm outside, he'll always stop to talk. One day I ran into him in Chipotle. He was out of uniform and hanging out with some friends and he recognized me and we stopped to chat which was kind of funny because I guess you never expect that your mailman is a real person with a life outside of letters and packages. It's like I half expected him to wear nothing but his uniform and to even sleep in the post office. I pictured all the mail people in there in a special room lined with cots, all of them wearing cute mailman pjs with eagles on them.

You'd think I'd have better sense than that being that my grandfather was a mailman for over forty years. No, they don't get to drive the truck home. My grandfather rode a motorcycle anyway. He was cool like that. I remember waiting for the sound of its engine coming up our street every night. He'd come in, take his uniform off and dress in street clothes again and sit in his easy chair with a beer to watch MASH reruns and play with me. My grandfather was a wonderful man.

The people along his mail route thought so too and I remember that on Christmas he always got a lot of presents. Candy, cookies, odds and ends and a number of cards with money. He preferred the money and I'm sure most of it went towards my presents.

Even though I remembered people giving him gifts, I never did this for my own mail carriers. I never knew them. In many of the places where I lived I had a different person delivering mail each day anyway, but now its different.

Brian makes me happy. He's a young black guy, younger than me, but his spirit and work ethic remind  me so much of my Pop that I wanted to honor that. This year I gave Brian a card with money. It wasn't a lot. I can't afford a lot, but I thought if everyone gave him a little, it would add up. He was really happy to have it and said times are tough at the post office and he worries about his job a lot.

This Christmas, for me, to honor my grandfather and the people who work so hard to deliver our mail each day, try to do something for your mail carrier. Give him or her a little something or other, even if it's just a sincere thank you or a small bag of cookies. Remember that they're real human beings, not letter carrying robots.

And thank you to all of the men and women who work for the US Postal Service! Happy Holidays.


Arwen said...

Just as an FYI, postal carriers are no longer allowed to accept a gift of money. If he does and he is caught, he could lose his job. I'm not sure about the status of gift cards. I gave mine two pounds of homemade fudge yesterday.

kerry said...

I actually have a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf gift card waiting for our mailman... his name is Mark and he recognizes me even when he's not on his mail route. Really nice guy.

Hoping gift cards are still ok.... it's not quite like money... that's sad that they can't accept cash from people who appreciate them.

Anonymous said...

Gift cards up to $20 should be OK. Here's the USPS official statement on gifts:

While many Postal Service™ customers have traditionally thanked their mail carrier with gifts of cash during the holiday season, this practice puts our employees at risk of violating federal law. The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch ("Standards"), specifies that Postal Service employees may not accept gifts from outside sources (including Postal Service customers) or gifts given to them because of their official positions. Postal Service employees are also prohibited from soliciting gifts from outside sources.

There are a number of exceptions and exclusions to the general gifts rule . Postal Service employees may accept the following items:

Snacks and beverages that are not offered as part of a meal.
Items with little intrinsic value (i.e., greeting cards, plaques, pens, coffee mugs, etc.).
Perishable items (i.e., flowers, chocolates, cookies, etc.); if the items are clearly worth more than $20, employees should share them with others in the Postal Service workplace.
Items with a market (retail) value of $20 or less.
Gifts motivated solely because of a personal relationship.
Gifts for which the employee has paid market (retail) value.
Gifts paid for by the Postal Service.

Postal Service employees may not accept cash - in any amount or form (bills, checks, money orders) - from an outside source.

For further information, please contact the U.S. Postal Service® Law Department's Ethics Helpline at 202-268-6346, or send an email message to

OTOH, if you know your mailman well enough to want to give him or her a cash gift, I would not let this stop me. Note the exception for "Gifts motivated solely because of a personal relationship." At least some letter carriers appear to agree with me: see

- lowwall

FreeDragon said...

I think it's a wonderful idea, even if the fed gov. has some rules against it. What do they not have rules against? I try to leave candy or cookies for my mailcarriers. I had a bad one once. She was actually my parents' and she knew I no longer lived in the house, so she wouldn't deliver anything addressed to me. That really pissed me off because at the time I lived in a trailer park where the mail was often stolen, so if I had something important coming, I had it sent to my parents. My father found a package addressed to me laying in the ditch. We complained about her several times, but the post office never took any action against her. Now I know a mailman who actually puts mail in the mailbox is a saint and should be rewarded.

Head Ant said...

Due to the USPS budget cuts, our mail carrier has changed several times in the last few months. We used to get mail at 10-11am. Now we are lucky if it comes at 6pm. Supposedly, our current carrier has three routes.

daisy said...

Don't think I've ever seen, let alone met my carrier, and I've lived in same place for 7 years. Don't know what time s/he gets there, just that it's before i get home at 6.

Maybe I'll leave something, anyway. Tis the season.
Is it always the same person? Just hope I don't leave it on a day there's a substitute.

Breton Wench said...

My facteuse and I exchange home made 'Delices'. Caramel shortbreads and mincemeat pies from me and breton butter biscuits from her.

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