By Paul Gereffi
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and we stood out on the curb, there was no sign of the mailman, and that was absurd! The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of Christmas gifts in Amazon parcels danced in their heads.
The stockings were hung on the mailbox with care, in hopes that the letter carrier would soon be there. Mama in her Victoria’s Secret thong, and I in my “Make America Great Again” cap, gave up on the mail and had just settled our brains for a long night’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. When what to my wondering eyes did appear, it was the letter carrier, looking for the mailbox in the dark, and fell on his rear!
Up is now down. Over is now out. Light has given way to darkness. What was once bizarre is now commonplace. All over the country, carriers are staying out to “complete their appointed rounds” (as the Post Office creed says) in the dark, sometimes until after midnight and, in a few cases, including right there in Fort Lauderdale, as late as 2 am. “Through gloom of night” is no longer just a part of that creed but a grim reality for many carriers.
We fought the battle against late starting times and night delivery of mail before. Now, in the ultimate act of an upper management incapable of finding solutions and ineffective in doing their job, we are at it again. No amount of useless conference calls results in any solution. The increasing number of irate phone calls from customers (who used to come first, remember that?) means nothing. Businesses complaining that their mail is left after hours to sit idle in mailboxes all night or parcels stacked in front of their closed door doesn’t even make a dent in management’s stubborn resolve to not deal with the issue. Instead, they focus on scan points and correctly entering our truck mileage, while carriers toil in the dark, hoping they don’t walk into a thorn bush, fall into a ditch, or get attacked by an irate homeowner. We suffer; they calculate their performance bonuses.
The more we fight it, the more determined they seem to continue this failed policy, no matter how much automation slows things down. “This system WILL work!” says some idiot in front of a computer screen that tracks us on our GPS. Meanwhile, the trucks bringing us the mail are stuck in mid-morning traffic. (On the flip side, trucks picking up our outgoing mail and parcels after we return from the street probably experience less traffic during their midnight runs!)
Personally, I say screw it and just learn the love the moonlight. Go with. Don’t fight it, just take the extra time we need until they get the message that THIS IS GOING TO COST YOU!
Think of some of the new experiences and discoveries. The other day, I mean night, I saw a large bird perched on a fence near the mailbox in the moonlight. I looked it up on Google and it was a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. Does most of its feeding at night. This is something I may have never seen unless I was out there, delivering in the dark. He is now my friend. I leave him snacks to eat. He follows me.
When it’s dark, you can’t help but see inside people’s houses. If you walk fast from house to house you can play Jeopardy if the TV is facing the window. Just read the questions and see the answers as you go. You can also clearly see what people are eating for dinner. Mrs. Johnson, if Junior isn’t going to finish that sandwich, I’m pretty hungry because it’s way past my dinner time. Oh, and Mr. Jones, please shut the bathroom door!
You will also meet a new set of friends. Those bums you see sleeping on bus benches and behind buildings during the day? They come out at night. Sometimes, they will walk with you and keep you company. They can show you the shortcuts at night that you wouldn’t know about. Once you start talking to them, they’re not that bad.
Also, dogs are usually in the house at night. The only dogs you see are walked by their owners, who are usually in a bathrobe and slippers by the time we deliver their mail. Cats? That’s another story! The cats are out carousing and you wouldn’t believe who is fooling around with who in the neighborhood. (Mrs. Smith, your kitty little Princess is no princess at all!)
Don’t let it get you down.
My truck broke down the other night. I sat on the bumper waiting for the mechanic, pulled out my harmonica, and was joined by some of my other nocturnal friends. A possum and a raccoon sat at my feet, an owl perched on my shoulder, and my night heron was in a nearby tree. I felt like playing the blues, but instead hummed some appropriate tunes.
“Shine on Harvest Moon, In the Misty Moonlight, Moon over Miami, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
When a bluebird landed on my shoulder I played “Zippity-do-dah.” After only a few hours, the mechanic showed up. My,oh my, what a wonderful night!
However, be prepared! There are a few important items you will need for our “new” Postal Service. In addition to satchel, scanner and dog spray, you will need the following:
Flashlight, batteries, night-vision goggles, fluorescent vest, drinking water, Sterno cans, a miner’s light headlamp, traffic cones, glow-in-the-dark shoes, a flare gun, an air horn, matches, and firewood. Some canned food and a can opener would be helpful for those lengthy vehicle breakdowns.
On the other hand, after midnight delivery gives new meaning to the phrase “morning mail.”