13 Things Your Mail Carrier Won’t Tell You

Letter carriers from around the country reveal the secrets of their profession.

from Reader's Digest, | February 2011

Mail CarrierKimberly Butler/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
PLUS: 11 More Things Your Mail Carrier Won’t Tell You

1. Maybe your dog won’t bite you.
But in 2009, 2,863 of us were bitten, an average of nine bites per delivery day. That’s why I wince when your Doberman comes flying out the door.

2. Remember this on Valentine’s Day: It takes our machines longer to read addresses on red envelopes (especially if they’re written in colored ink).

3. Why stand in line? At usps.com, you can buy stamps, place a hold on your mail, change your address, and apply for passports. We even offer free package pickup and free flat-rate envelopes and boxes, all delivered right to your doorstep.

4. Media Mail is a bargain, but most of you don’t know to ask for it. Sending ten pounds of books from New York City to San Francisco through Media Mail costs $5.89, compared with $16.77 for Parcel Post. Besides books, use it to send manuscripts, DVDs, and CDs; just don’t include anything else in the package.

5. We don’t get a penny of your tax dollars. Really.

6. UPS and FedEx charge you $10 or more for messing up an address. Us? Not a cent.

7. Paychecks, personal cards, letters—anything that looks like good news—I put those on top. Utility and credit card bills? They go under everything else.

8. Sorry if I seem like I’m in a hurry, but I’m under the gun: Our supervisors tell us when to leave, how many pieces of mail to deliver, and when we should aim to be back. Then some of us scan bar codes in mailboxes along our route so they can monitor our progress.

9. Yes, we do have to buy our own stamps, but a lot of us carry them for customers who need them. If we don’t charge you, that’s because we like you.

10. Use a ballpoint pen. Ink from those felt tips runs in the rain.

11. Please dress properly when you come to the door. A towel wrapped around you doesn’t cut it. And we definitely don’t want to see you in your underwear—or naked!

12. We serve 150 million addresses six days a week, so we’re often in the right place at the right time. We pull people out of burning cars, catch burglars in the act, and call 911 to report traffic accidents, dead bodies, and more.

13. Most of us don’t mind if you pull up to our trucks while we’re delivering and ask for your mail a little early. But please get out of your car and come get it. Don’t just put your hand out your window and wait for me to bring it to you.

PLUS: 11 More Things Your Mail Carrier Won’t Tell You

Sources: Letter carriers in Missouri, New Jersey, and North Carolina; Fredric V. Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers; and a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.

–Michelle Crouch

Tired of bulk mail? See How to Make Your Mailbox a Junk-Free Zone

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