Sunday, October 4, 2009

You Do What You Gotta Do

Here's another Post Office story. It may be in slightly-off taste, so it's remotely possible that this may bother someone, in which case, I suggest doing two things. 1.) Don't read any further, and 2.) take a look at the world around you and realize that life's too short to be offended by petty stuff. Now then, on with our show!

I've been a mailman for quite a while now (14 years this month, matter of fact...happy anniversary to me!), so I've encountered many different situations. In talking with a gentleman a couple days ago at one of the apartment complexes (complecies?) I deliver to, I was reminded of this incident.

I started out carrying mail in Roslyn Heights, which is on Long Island, a fairly affluent suburb of New York City. It's a predominantly upper middle class residential area, with each house being kinda large, and a little bit of property as well. While my office only had about 15 routes in it, it covered a decent amount of territory geographically speaking.

Since this was an area of New York, we were subject to the phenomenon known as winter (something basically unheard of out here in the greater Las Vegas area). With a 7AM start time, you were generally leaving the office to go to the street at 9:30 or so, on average. With an 8 hour day ending at 3:30PM, this meant roughly 5 and change hours out in the cold, damp, NY winter weather. Sounds like fun so far, right?

And don't think the vehicle offered any solace from the elements. While you may have been shielded from any falling rain or snow, the little tin LLV's (Long Life Vehicles, as the small boxey-shaped Postal Vehicles are known) are practically incapable of generating any heat. You needed to have the vehicle running for a good 10 minutes before the engine (and I use that word loosely) started to produce anything remotely resembling warmth in the cabin. But you never had to drive for more than a few seconds at a time to get from a parking spot to your next delivery section's parking spot. Only the trips to and from the routes in the mornings and afternoons involved a journey of a few minutes or so.

Now, with this being a mostly residential area, and really no business section anywhere within range of the routes, finding a place to go to the bathroom during the day, if necessary, could be interesting. You couldn't just drive for a minute and pop in the local Target to use their restroom. And it was even more of a challenge for someone with my particular assignment. I didn't have one permanent route, I had a set of 5 that I filled in for on those carrier's days off. And if that person came in on their day off to work overtime, I got bumped to a different route. Consequently, doing a route at most once a week, it was difficult to get to know anyone on the routes well enough to be comfortable with asking to be able to use the bathroom in their home.

Basically, you had to just do your best to make sure you weren't going to have to do anything over the course of the day. Or, you had to be somewhat resourceful if you did need to do anything. Most of the "male" carriers (yes, we've all done that joke a thousand times...) would just carry a bottle around in the truck, for the occasional time that it was necessary. The women were pretty much forced to go to someone's house, I guess. I'll have to ask in my current office if any females are from cold weather regions, and what they did in those situations. 95% of our office is from somewhere else. Very few Vegas-area carriers started here. We're all from somewhere else.

Anyway, in filling in for one of the guys, one day I got in the truck in his route, and found the bottle he kept in it, with a small sample of liquid in it, that he must have just forgotten to take out of the truck the day before. I just smiled, tucked it under the seat, and spotted an opportunity for comedy.

Upon this carrier's return to work the following day, I told him, across the workroom floor, with a very serious and straight face, that I hoped he didn't mind, but I'd gotten real thirsty at some point yesterday, and I had some of that lemonade he kept in that bottle in the truck. In the midst of everyone else laughing, shaking their heads, and/or having disgusted looks on their faces, this carrier's eyes got very wide, as he knew immediately what bottle I was referring to, and was very afraid I'd actually done this! I kept that straight face for a few seconds, as he stood there open-mouthed, then let him off the hook, informing him that while I may look stupid, that's only because I am...wait, that's not right...

Blog Post Soundtrack: Probot, The Dandy Warhols, Pink Floyd, Kyuss, The Minutemen, The Doors, Queens Of The Stone Age, Monty Python, Led Zeppelin, Zeke, Fu Manchu

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