13+ Things Your Mail Carrier Won’t Tell You

Postal workers from around the country reveal the secrets of their profession and why mail is still the country's best bargain.

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1. Maybe your dog won’t bite you

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But in 2013, 5,500 of us were bitten, an average of 18 bites per delivery day. That’s why I wince when your Doberman comes flying out the door.

2. Remember this on Valentine’s Day:

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It takes our machines longer to read addresses on red envelopes (especially if they’re written in colored ink).

3. Why stand in line?

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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!

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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 $6.95, compared with $24.77 for Standard 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

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Really.

6. UPS and FedEx charge you $10 or more...

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...if you mess up an address. Us? Not a cent.

7. We put good-news mail on top

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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

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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

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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

iStock/Aldo Murillo

Ink from those felt tips runs in the rain.

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