Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A writer becomes a carrier for the United States Postal Service out of a long-held love for the mail, but instead of a dream job she encounters a dark world of dog bites, labor violations, and screaming supervisors. Jess Stoner detailed her horrific experiences as a Texas letter carrier in an essay for The Morning News that ran last September, derailing the wouldn’t-it-be-fun-to-work-as-a-letter-carrier daydreams of Americans everywhere (myself included):

I cried once more, a few weeks in. The mail was heavy, and I was covering a route with a number of apartments whose mailboxes were old, often wouldn’t budge, and even when they did, residents so rarely checked their mail that I had to painstakingly fold and squish letters to fit them in. Then I dropped my scanner and it broke. I called the station to tell them I was running late. My supervisor screamed, “YOU’RE HORRIBLE,” and I said, “I’m doing my best,” and I meant it. When an assistant supervisor showed up to help 20 minutes later, the strap on my satchel also broke. I thanked the supervisor for her help, although even she couldn’t get the mailbox closed, and turned away so she couldn’t see my face. I drove to my next loop and sobbed aloud as I tried to shove thick magazines through thin, razor-sharp mail slots that made my fingers bleed. I kept crying, from exhaustion and frustration, as I walked through hedges and tree branches. When I finished and arrived at the station, my supervisor asked if I had been crying. I told her my allergies were terrible. Another carrier had already told me to never, ever show them what they do to you.

If Stoner’s essay leaves you newly inspired to remember your neighborhood letter carrier this holiday season, don’t forget that federal regulations prohibit USPS employees from accepting cash. Gift cards (no more than $20 in value) can be accepted, as well as other small gifts and perishable items like cookies.

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