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So, I figured I would take a moment to sort of catch everyone up on where I've been and what I've been doing over the last two months. Perhaps you've all noticed that I haven't been very active around here lately, although I am trying very hard to change that. I've mentioned a few times that I started working for the Post Office at the start of December, and am still doing it now. Today was actually my one day off for the week, and after spending some quality time with my family and trying to relax a bit, I figured I'd post a blog to sort of explain my absense these last couple months, and speak a bit about what it is that I am up to.
No Easy Money
Here's a term we used to throw around a lot, usually as a joke. When I was in the military, easy money was pretty much time spent in the states, just going in to work everyday, doing some morning PT and then spending the day doing odd jobs around your Company area. Going on deployments to Iraq was the hard money I guess, as was going to the field and other hardship rotations. What I have come to learn though in the last 60 days, is that there really is no such thing as easy money.
To start off, the cash at the Post Office is amazing. You won't hear me complain about the pay. I am making almost triple what I used to bring home when I worked in hospitality, but trust me, it comes at a price. Delivering the mail, in its own right, is not a difficult task. You either ride a route, (when all the boxes are up the street and you just drive by and drop in the mail… we love those routes by the way), or, for those of you with the small boxes on your porch, we walk a route. The walking routes can either be relaxing or horrible, depending on the weather I guess. What makes the job hard is not what you start off doing, but all the crap that gets piled on you over the course of the day.
I could probably work just 8 or 9 hours a day if the work I left with in the morning was all I had to deal with. However, my job title is CCA (City Carrier Assistant) which means that I am sort of a substitute mail carrier. That means that I cover whoever's route isn't there that day. This wouldn't be so bad, but it does make it really difficult to learn the routes (since you're on a different one almost every day) and thus makes it harder to get fast, and trust me, the post office cares about speed. Fast is good, slow is bad, just think of it like that. Then after I finish that person's route, which is usually about an 8 hour job, I have to take a portion of someone else's route, making a typical work day about 10-12 hours long. And that time can depend on whether I allow myself to stop for lunch, or just try and push on through.
So, while the money is good, it is far from easy.
Amazon is Ruining Lives
My opinion anyway. See, post offices are supposed to be closed on Sundays and Federal Holidays, right? I mean, that was one of the big selling points when I left my job at Omni and took on the postal career. See, I liked the idea of having set off days, like Sundays, since I am a husband and father, and having that weekend to spend with family was something that really drew me into the idea of working for the USPS. What they didn't tell me, was that due to a contract signed between Amazon and the USPS back in 2013, (the very contract that led to the job title of CCA being created) that I was basically selling myself to Amazon.com.
Amazon used to use UPS and FedEx mostly, but see, those guys won't do Sunday and holiday deliveries the way Amazon wanted. Factor in the post office that was bleeding money and on the verge of needing a real bail-out, and you had a match made in hell. USPS was more than happy to play ball with Amazon, which wanted to offer its Prime customers delivery service every single day of the year just about. (I think Christmas is still off limits…maybe…) Since most of the seasoned old carriers weren't going to start working on Sundays and holidays just to haul around smiling little boxes, the post office made a job, the CCA, to fill in and do those Sunday deliveries.
Now, working on Sunday isn't the issue. I am not a largely religious person, so I don't feel that Sunday is off limits to labor, and honestly, after being in the military and working in hospitality, (both New Orleans casinos and hotels) I am beyond accustomed to working on holidays. The issue I have is that the post office was decreed by Congress almost 100 years ago to be closed on Sundays and holidays. So Amazon comes along, throws a bunch of money at the post office, and suddenly I'm out slinging smiling little boxes while the rest of the federally employed world is kicking back, because my job title says I can. This was never brought to my attention in the initial interview. Factor in federal holidays being available for Amazon to exploit through the USPS, and suddenly you've got people working 7 days a week, nearly 80 hours, just because those smiling little boxes MUST go out each and every day. Everything from books to ferret litter have suddenly become so valuable that a person can't wait until the week day to receive them, they need that crap now!
This becomes a bigger issue because we, the CCA's, still have to work during the regular week helping with mail, (and the million Amazon packages that still get delivered during the week) and then we have to come in on Sunday for a day dedicated just to Amazon. I didn't realize a private corporation could force a government entity into a position of violating acts of Congress, but here it is, Amazon, now bigger than Congress.
I suppose I am one of the lucky ones, as I do get one day off a week. I've read a lot of blogs and reviews by other CCA's that tell horror stories of working upwards of 20 days straight, and I am glad that I have a supervisor compassionate enough to grant me at least one day. The sad thing is though, carriers are supposed to get two days off, with one regular off day during the week, and the second off day being that Sunday. But, thanks to Amazon and their largely redacted contract with the government, you can't expect two days off unless you're a regular carrier (which can take a few years to make) and therefore I can expect my Sundays from now until whenever to involve smiling boxes with such nonsense as bulk diapers and dog food.
You Work Until It's Done
Before I went to work for USPS, I always had this idea that mail carriers were home by 5pm. That's very wrong. There are still mail trucks rolling down the street well past 7pm in most cities, I should know, I am usually out in one until well after dark. I am really curious as to what Amazon would think about all the safety violations forced on postal carriers in the name of getting out their packages. All that rain and sleet crap is fine when you're bringing someone their retirement check or delivering communications from loved ones, but it sort of loses the noble aspect when you're bringing ferret litter (I use this because this was one of my deliveries the other day) on a federal holiday. Plus, as a CCA, there is very little you can expect besides more work typically.
It gets to the point where you end up taking your time instead of trying to complete jobs faster, because you know that getting done sooner does not promise a shorter day. No, the reward for hard work is almost always more work, as I've said before, 70 hours a week has become typical for me.
The Money is Real
As I've said before, the pay is stellar at the post office, and while I am sick of being an Amazon drone on days that Congress said I should be off, I keep going back in every day. Part of it is because I am a husband and father. If I were single with no children, who knows, I might have quit by now. Because while I do like the pay, I am sick of the ridiculous hours…. and ferret litter. However, I can't exactly tell those that are looking to me as a provider that I gave up a great paying job simply because I don't like it. For now, I will keep going with it, because honestly, what I put up with is apparently cake compared to what I've read from other CCA's in other cities.
I read about abusive supervisors, super unsafe work conditions, ridiculous expectations and general misery. In fairness to my management team, they treat us all very well, not that I would allow anyone to abuse me, but still, I've never had to speak up for myself because the management is all very professional. Plus, I've never been afraid of hard work or long hours, but I do dislike… hell, hate, how the system has been manipulated so that a private company, Amazon, can deliver on absurd promises to their Prime customers. No one should work 7 days a week, and although I did work 22 days in a row during December, that was because of the nature of the load and because I was willing to play ball. Now, I would likely walk away from the job before I would dedicate my entire life to them. One day off isn't much, but it does break the cycle enough to keep me going.
On Writing and Creepypasta Wikia
I am still here. I still love this site and still wish to remain on the admin team. I still intend to finish my Tobit series, as I know there are some out there who'd like to see the next installment. I also have other stories in mind that I want to write. The biggest issues for me right now is just my very limited time off. As I said, a typical work day for me is about 11 hours on average, with 10 hours being a "short day." That one day I get off a week is usually spent trying to have some degree of normalcy, and perhaps go and enjoy a bit of the bloated salary that I now bring home. (Money doesn't make the stress any less though, remember that.)
In the end, I may leave the Post Office, though I am still willing to hang in there for the time being. I feel like quitting at least once a day though. I feel angry about the crap that some other CCA's have to go through, so the most I can do there is be grateful that I ended up at a good station with a good leadership team. I am sick and tired of Amazon though, and I have written them twice asking what their thoughts are on the labor travesty that is their contract with the USPS. I have yet to hear back from them.
Anyway guys, I figured I'd give all of you a bit of an update. Those of you that continue to support my writing I do thank you deeply, and I assure you that I have not left this community behind, I just have to shuffle my time more carefully now.
Best to you all!