They’re Not Always Alt-Right

, , , , , , | Working | July 25, 2018

(I became a manager in the post office back in the early 1980s, and quickly gained a reputation with the union workers. One of the more memorable incidents that forged it came with a dispute between two women. One is tasked with loading the mailbags into the trucks. The other drives the loaded trucks and delivers the mail. The problem is simple: the loader consistently fails to load the mailbags when she is working with the driver. I call them both into my office to settle this, but only after doing a little of my own diligence. In this case, that means going over their history. Turns out both women are still on their 90 days; basically, the contract signed by both USPS and the union states that within the first 90 days of an employee’s term, management can let them go for any reason — downsizing, too many sick days, bad chemistry with the team, arrest, anything. The meeting goes as follows:)

Me: “So, [Loader], [Driver] tells me you’re not loading mail into her truck.”

Loader: “That’s right.”

Me: “Y-You don’t deny it?”

Loader: “No, I’m not loading mail for her. She can load her own mail! I don’t load mail for a [racial slur]!”

(The driver and I just sit there with our mouths agape for a moment. Thankfully, I gather myself together first.)

Me: “Pack up your stuff and get out. Don’t bother finishing up today. And don’t come back tomorrow, or ever again. Your racism just cost you your job.”

(Their reactions to my words make me thankful for two reasons. First, [Loader]’s look of pure shock and rage is amazing, but doesn’t extend beyond that; she packs up without a scene. Second, [Driver] doesn’t revel in it. Not then, not ever. I assume this is going to be the end of it, but then the next day rolls around. Just after I get in, [Loader] came into my office on the heels of a man. I happen to recognize this man as a union rep.)

Rep: “[My Name]?”

Me: “Yes. How can I help you?”

Rep: *pointing to [Loader]* “Is it true you fired [Loader] yesterday because of what she said about [Driver]?”

Me: “Yes.”

Rep: “You can’t do that. The union’s contract says you can’t fire her for what she said. She has to get her job back right now, or…”

Me: “No.”

Rep: “What?”

Me: “She’s not getting her job back.”

Rep: “The contract says…”

Me: “The contract also says, in black and white, that we can release any employee for any reason within the first 90 days of employment. She was still on her 90 days. I can fire her for whatever reason I want.”

Rep: “No, you can’t!”

Me: “Of course I can. ‘ANY! REASON!’ If you’ve got a problem, go over my head! Now get out of my office before I throw you out!”

(Both of them left, with the rep cursing every other word. Nothing ever came of their threats, so I assume either the union finally realized she had also confessed to allowing her bigotry to take priority over doing her job, or my superiors laughed them out of the building. Regardless, I noticed I got a lot more respect from my employees — including the union workers — after the rep walked out.)

It’s REAL-ly Long

, , , | Right | July 13, 2018

(I have long hair, which I am lucky enough to be able to wear down at work. I am counting out a big pension pickup for an older lady, slowly so as not to make any mistakes. As I am counting aloud to her, she interrupts.)

Customer: “Your hair is long.”

Me: “Thank you.”

(It’s not really a compliment, more of a sweet, obvious statement. I smile politely, before starting my count from the beginning, as I’ve lost my place. As I’ve nearly reached the total, she interrupts me again.)

Customer: “Your hair is long.”

(Again I smile politely, and begin counting again. She interrupts me twice more to remind me about my hair before I finish. I hand the cash over.)

Customer: “Is it real?”

(I honestly don’t think she paid attention to how much money I was giving her!)

Making You Go Postal

, , , , , | Working | July 2, 2018

(I get to the post office late, but before they close at five. I wait at the counter for almost ten minutes.)

Employee: “I’m closed; you have to come back tomorrow.”

Me: “When did you close?”

Employee: “5:03.”

Me: “Its only 5:01 now, and I’ve been here almost ten minutes.”

Employee: “My watch says 5:10.”

Me: *pointing* “The clocks there, there, and there agree with me.”

(I have him get a supervisor, explain the story, and she verifies.)

Supervisor: “Can you please get this man his package?”

Employee: “I can’t.”

Supervisor: “Why not?”

Employee: “It’ll take ten minutes to get the system back up then shut it down again.”

Supervisor: “Sorry, there’s nothing he can do.”

(I was not impressed with the supervisor. If you decide to not do your job and hide in the back so you don’t have to do any work for at least ten minutes, a little unpaid “overtime” seem reasonable to me; balances the books.)

Needs To Address Their Reaction To No Address

, , , , , | Working | June 28, 2018

(I am a Canadian tourist in the USA, and I go to mail something to my mom. I get a box and fill out all the information on the sheet they give me, but when I get to, “return address,” I’m not sure what to do. I have only ever sent mail from the place I was living, and always knew a return address as the address it was mailed from. Since I am not mailing from where I live, and have no address here for it to be returned to, I approach the postal worker to ask about it.)

Me: “I’m from out of the country, so I don’t have an address here, so I’m not sure what I should put in this section.”

Worker: *with an absolutely disgusted expression* You don’t have an address?!

Me: “Not in the USA, no. As I said, I am from out of the country, so I don’t have an address here.”

Worker: “You have to put a return address! We won’t deliver it if you don’t! YOU HAVE TO HAVE A RETURN ADDRESS!”

Me: “Um, okay.”

(I ended up putting my mom’s address as both the recipient and the sender. She eventually did get the package.)


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Obeying The Rules To The Letter

, , , | Working | June 22, 2018

(I go to the post office to mail an envelope. One side is quite long — 90 centimeters — but every other side is within the limits, so it can still go through a Dutch mailbox opening, making it a letter. I used to be a mail deliverer myself, so I’m quite aware of all the rules.)

Clerk: “I’m sorry, but the envelope is larger than a mailbox.”

Me: “Eh… It fits through a normal mailbox.”

Clerk: “No, it does not! Look!” *shows the letter next to a mailbox sample display they use to prevent discussions* “It doesn’t fit.”

Me: “Ah, I see… and if you put it in this way?”

(I turned the envelope 90 degrees and “posted” the letter through the sample. The clerk fell silent and turned red, finishing the transaction in silence.)

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