23 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.

Maybe your dog won’t bite you

iStock/Enrico Fianchini

But as a postal carrier, I'm less certain. 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. Owners, please be kind and follow these dog etiquette rules.

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). You're better off sending one of these ideal Valentine's Day gifts and putting your card inside the package.

Why stand in line?


At usps.com, you can buy stamps, place a hold on your mail, change your address, and apply for passports. (Here's why you should renew that passport immediately. Go ahead, we'll wait.) We even offer free package pickup and free flat-rate envelopes and boxes, all delivered right to your doorstep.

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Media Mail is a bargain!


But most of you don’t know to ask for it. Sending 10 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.

We don’t get a penny of your tax dollars


Really. But when you get some of your own tax money back, this is how you should spend your refund.

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


...if you mess up an address. Us? Not a cent. And if you stick with USPS, you won't be at risk for this new FedEx scam that's sweeping the country.

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We put good-news mail on top


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. We can't just stop giving you bills altogether, but you can make getting them a little less stressful. Just follow these tips to save on every household bill.

Sorry if I seem like I’m in a hurry

iStock/Robert A Sanchez

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.

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.

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Use a ballpoint pen

iStock/Aldo Murillo

Ink from those felt tips runs in the rain. If your ink gets runny on places other than your stationery, here are some household solutions to remove ink stains you can try.

Please dress properly when you come to the door

iStock/Izabela Habur

A towel wrapped around you doesn’t cut it. And we definitely don’t want to see you in your underwear—or naked! It's an awkward, albeit funny problem that many real estate agents encounter, too.

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. These home security tips from pros can protect your home from such an invasion.

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Most of us don’t mind if you pull up to our trucks


If you see us while we’re delivering, it's not a big deal if ask for your mail a little early—even though patience can improve your health in more ways than one. But please get out of your car and come get it. Don’t just put your hand out your window and wait for a postal carrier to bring it to you.

Most of us love our jobs and the people we serve


I met my wife and my best friend because I was their postal carrier. Adorable, right? Check out more true stories of how couples knew they had met "the one."

We try to deliver to every address, no matter how remote


That’s why, in the most rural areas, even UPS and FedEx rely on us to make their final deliveries. But trekking out to these communities isn't always a bad thing, especially if it's one of the nicest small towns in America.

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We appreciate a good landscaping job


Those plants around your mailbox are beautiful, but I’d like them better if you kept them trimmed back.

Is it hot enough for me?


The heat index is 110 degrees. What do you think? (Instead of asking that, offer me a cold drink. If you're feeling extra generous, drop in some flavored ice cubes.)

Icy conditions can be a dealbreaker


Despite the “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” motto, we’re instructed not to deliver to a mailbox if the snow and ice around it isn’t cleared. Most of us take the motto to heart, though, and do our best to deliver in even the most hazardous conditions, including following important winter car care tips.

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Out of stamps?


I have people who leave a letter in their box and tape 49 cents in change to it. I’ll take it, but the next day I’ll be waiting in line like everyone else to buy you a stamp.

We form strong bonds with the people we serve


One day while I was delivering to a woman who had been very sick, her daughter met me by the mailbox and asked me if I wanted to say goodbye to her mom. She was unconscious and didn’t know that I was there, but I held her hand and said a silent prayer for her and her family. It wasn’t even an hour later when another customer met me at his door. He was a new father, overjoyed, telling me that his wife had just given birth to his son. The whole cycle of life, in just one day. These are the other secrets your mail carrier knows about you—without even asking.

It’s a small thing that makes my job so much easier:


Please park your car in the driveway instead of in front of the mailbox.

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We look out for mistakes

iStock/Naomi Bassitt

If a letter has your name but the number is wrong and it gets to you, thank your postal carrier. We still sort our mail before we hit the street.

Be considerate in snowy weather


If your carrier walks his route, it would be nice if you would sweep or shovel your stairs when it snows. All you need to do is follow this super easy shoveling shortcut.

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