There’s a movie called The Postman. It’s based on a novel by David Brin. The story, in both the book and the movie, is about how a guy accidentally restarts civilization by delivering the mail. The actual plot is more complicated than that. The movie is sentimental and obvious and heavy handed. The novel takes some side tours into intelligent computers and supersoldiers that are pretty basic for a science fiction story but might seem a little weird if one had seen the film first.
I enjoy both versions of the story. But I really hope I never have to deliver mail in a radioactive wasteland. On a horse.
Once upon a time, I was an active correspondent. I wrote a lot of letters. I’d write letters during my breaks at work. I’d write letters to friends of friends. I made minicomics and traded them through the mail.
And then came email and the internet and, specifically, Facebook. I still communicate with a lot of people but mostly via a sentence or two. I don’t write physical letters anymore. I occasionally get cards, mostly from my big sister and a friend in Colorado. I can’t tell you how much I love seeing those in my mailbox. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy delivering cards and, especially, letters to my customers. I treat that mail like gold.
In August, 2013 I took a job as a City Carrier Assistant with the United States Postal Service. My training was minimal and, according to one of my trainers, insufficient. He said as much during the training, saying that management had reduced our training days from five to two. I certainly felt insufficiently trained for months. I was given new routes to deliver each day and expected to deliver said routes in a time comparable to a seasoned carrier. I worked ten and twelve (and sometimes more) hour days and didn’t have a regular day off. I lost about 50 pounds in the first six months and my body was regularly in some sort of pain. I didn’t have time to draw. It was difficult to have a social life because I couldn’t make plans. I didn’t know when I would have a day off or when I would get off work.
But I persevered. In the last week of December, 2014 I made “career” and became a City Carrier. Within a couple of months I had my own route, near the station and near home. I still worked long hours because I put myself on the Overtime Desired List but at least now I knew where I would be delivering for most of the day and I knew what days I would have off. And I had benefits as part of my compensation that, as a CCA, I’d either not had or had to pay for out of pocket.
I work with good people who bust their asses to get the mail where it’s supposed to go in a timely manner. On most days it’s a satisfying job. Sometimes it’s even fun. I laugh at the dogs who go nuts when I put in an appearance. Human folks are generally friendly. Kids get irrationally excited to see me. And everybody loves to get a package.