• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

(…Apartment routes suck. They’re full of lockboxes that usually require one or two keys to actually get to, and then you deal with boxes full of shit that people never empty, so you end up cramming everything in. If you live in an apartment with a lockbox, check your mail every day. For the love of God. I don’t like to destroy mail by jamming it in, but sometimes I’ll do it on purpose…)

February 23 — Pat, a regular, asks if I carried his route. “Yes,” I say, and then he tells me all the things I did wrong. “Look,” he says, “you don’t put any mail in the boxes labeled vacant. And when you deliver the advos, do it like this.” He pantomimes folding paper. “Because when I’m out there, I like to jam.”

March 3 — Two girls holler “Sexy mailman!” at me from a McDonald’s drive-through. Makes/ruins my day.

March 10 — I’m running the collection route: collecting the mail out of the blue boxes along a particularly trashy part of El Cajon Boulevard. I open a box and the unmistakable smell of feces wafts out: someone has finagled some human shit in there. The physics of dumping directly into the box seem tortured, which means it was probably picked up and placed inside. This seems profoundly sad. I scan the barcode on the box, but leave the shit-mail alone. I finish the route, for the next two hours feeling unhappy for the kid who won’t get a birthday card because someone crapped in the collection box. When I finally get back to the station, I go up to old-as-hell Jim. “Uh, Jim, I don’t quite know how to tell you this but…” He finishes the sentence: “…someone crapped in the collection box.” Then he tells me that I still need to bring it back. I do this. Despite the disgust of the other clerks, Jim finds the whole thing pretty damn funny. HAZMAT comes to take care of the shit.

March 11 — Greg calls and gives me the day off. In all my time with the post office, this is the only time a supervisor will tell me to take a day off.

March 28 — The weather turns beautiful, even by San Diego standards. The job becomes easier, and I love everything about it. I finish a route early and return to find Hardass Greg in the office. I’m hanging up my keys when he says, “You’re really getting the hang of this, aren’t you, Ryan?” I say, “Yeah, and I’m liking it a lot better, too. Especially on days like today.” I make a gesture that takes in the air all around us, the beautiful spring air. Greg smiles, a genuine smile. “Just wait until summer, you’ll love it,” he says.

April 10 — I deliver a rooster, sent overnight express. I deliver it to an apartment complex.

(…You begin to get the hang of the job. You take pride in being a civil servant, with an altruistic sense of duty. But this will be a fleeting period. There are no incentives for being good at your job at the United States Postal Service. If you finish early, your reward is delivering more mail. So you begin taking your time, or you finish early and read in your car for an hour, perhaps get a coffee. San Diego is a beautiful place. Sometimes you just look at the beach…)

April 21 — I do my work, come back to the office near 6:00 p.m. Old-as-hell Jim tells me to go back out to help Mike Mikelob. One of the daily goals for the post office is to get all carriers off the street by 6:00, but I think, “Oh, well, more overtime for me. Possible double-time.” We finish up by 7:00 p.m. It’s dark when we get back.

April 23 — I jam a route, after which Hardass Greg says, “Ryan, come here.” He has my timecard in hand. He tells me that I’m supposed to report to the Encanto station the next day. I figure I’m going out on a loan. “All right,” I say, taking the timecard. Hardass Greg hesitates. “Yeah?” I ask. “Nothing,” he says. I don’t know it yet, but this is how Hardass Greg says goodbye.

April 24 — I borrow my girlfriend’s car (I’d been riding the bus to Andrew Jackson) to get to the Encanto post office. The supervisor here is Elizabeth. Elizabeth has an accent best described as Transylvanian; that’s the kind of fear she instills. Hardass Greg’s power came from brute presence, but there’s a dark fire in Elizabeth’s eyes that devalues your worth as a human being. She calls me into her office. “I want you to know my expectations if you’re going to carry for me,” she says. “I’m strict but fair.” She then says, “You must take control of your route, DO NOT LET YOUR ROUTE CONTROL YOU!” I say, “Wait, what is this? I’m here with you for just today, right?” Elizabeth says, “No, you’re stationed here now. Permanently.”

I knew the routes over at Andrew Jackson, and being sent to a new station is like having to learn the job all over again. I’m having feelings of abandonment and frustration, mixed with the realization that I’ll have to buy my own car. It makes me want to cry right there in Elizabeth’s office. “Nobody told you?” she asks. She puts me on a route, whispering, “This is a black neighborhood.” It rains for the entire shift. I lose my pen and have to ask an elderly lady if I can have hers. I tell her it’s my first day.

May 4 — I haven’t even worked a full week at Encanto when the San Ysidro station calls. Saul is the supervisor there. I like him; he’s the first one I’ve met who doesn’t emit hatred and disappointment. When I call at 3:00 p.m. for help, he sends out a Transitional Employee named Adrian who goes by “Rocky.” Rocky is older, graying, has braces, and sounds like Cheech Marin. His home station never uses him, either, so it’s the first of many times we run into each other. He talks of the supervisors at the other stations. “Just wait till you meet Cheryl at Riverfront station. She’s GOOORGEOUS.”

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it


freetrashypaper March 28, 2012 @ 2:50 p.m.

I think delivering mail in a city like San Diego is easy in comparison to doing that somewhere that has actual seasons with 3 month long winters


normadeplum April 5, 2012 @ 8:53 p.m.

I delivered for years in Buffalo. And now locally. Every town has it's plus side. The common traits are always there tho. This article is spot-on!


619ninja March 29, 2012 @ 3:49 a.m.

I use to be a mail carrier back in 1980.One of very few women who did this at the time.Seems like things have not changed very much,good money,lots of hours,very poor management,bias to the good old boys and vets,regulars wary you will work too fast and get an add on to their route,a unique business with no start and no end,upon returning to the office the mail is always stacked,waiting for your return,over time very daunting.


urbanator March 29, 2012 @ 8:50 a.m.

Thank you, Ryan, for your humorous account of being a TE. I absolutely loved it. I am a Postmaster in Missouri and can relate to everything in your diary. I've always thought they should come up with a sitcom based on the real experiences of a postal worker. Maybe you can come up with a script!! Have fun and keep writing!


RPMAILMAN March 29, 2012 @ 11:11 a.m.

What a frickin cry baby. "I'm on the verge of tears" he states. I just retired after 31+ years of carrying the mail. Every aspect of mail delivery. From the nasty parts of town where you often hold your breath just to get down some streets. To the High dollar areas. After my initial training I had a walk-out route. You walk from the station and deliver mail working out of relay boxes. Two months in we had a 9 inch snow. Yep your legs feel like rubber after a few hours trudging through that mess but you push on.You can't take these comments about being late, and all the rest of them , to heart. You just smile hand them the mail and move on. I was an OJI trainer for several years and when my new trainees complained about heat, cold, long hours or being exhausted I just reminded them of what my Dad taught me. It is alot hotter, alot colder and mentally exhausting in the unemployment line. It is a good job. Even like in Ryans case where he gets no benefits he is still making $21 to walk or drive around and put mail in a box. Are there jerks out there who only want to complain. But once you know the customers you will reap many rewards. Are the majority of managers morons who are only managers to get out of real work? Sure they are. Otherwise they would be doing the same job as you. Will you freeze your butt off somedays? Sure I have carried mail in 42 below zero windchills. Will you fry? Yep last summer our city set a record for number of days over 100 that had stood since the 1930's. Will you get frustrated because it seems to be impossible to keep the mail dry while delivering in downpours? Yes again. Do I regret my 31+ years as a Letter Carrier? Not one bit. If it weren't for health issues I would still be out there delivering each days mail.


normadeplum April 5, 2012 @ 8:56 p.m.

You sound like the cry baby. Those of us still deliveing applaud this young manfor his accuate account of what new and experienced carriers face. Uneducated management, unreasonable expectations, and yes, good pay.


pse Nov. 21, 2012 @ 11 p.m.

Better a late comment than no comment - I'm guessing you walked 2 miles uphill (both ways) barefoot in snow drifts to deliver your mail ? I've always found that a sense of humor is helpful in life - especially when it comes to government entities. I am a PSE who has been abused since I started a year ago - far worse by the regular employees than management. I am accepting a TE carrier route position and will start training in a few weeks. I KNOW this job will exhaust me physically. I will often be burdened by weather conditions. My feet will hurt...alot. I will be criticized by my customers. I will work long hours at times. I am a realist - I know this is going to be demanding and I am up to the challenge. Yes, the money is good, but I have instrinsic reasons for accepting the job. I wonder if RPMAILMAN also has his own intrinsic reasons for being employed as a mail carrier - As hard as the job was, he regrets nothing. I enjoyed seeing the humor of my anxieties in your article - thank you Ryan! ...and thank you RPMAILMAN for helping me remember the non-monetary rewards of a job well done.


Jill Ballard March 29, 2012 @ 2:07 p.m.

When I was a substitute teacher with San Diego City Schools, the kids and adults would tell me that I was late when I was filling in for a substitute teacher who failed to show up! Don't you hate it when people make comments out of ignorance?


mailmantony March 29, 2012 @ 4:13 p.m.

You should read buokowski' Post office' it's a riot and will show how little things change at the PO


Valerie Scher March 29, 2012 @ 4:16 p.m.

After reading this diary of a mail carrier, I have fresh appreciation for the folks who make sure I receive all those letters, ads, and bills. Congrats, Ryan, on your first-class delivery of a fine story.


charliegrl March 29, 2012 @ 6:40 p.m.

This article was a blast to read. I'm a former TE (3 years befored they layed me off 2 years ago). Ryan you could'nt have wrote it better. That story is so true to the point; it had me laughing outloud. But I wanted to know did you ever get caught for the damaged van?


sdmissy1 March 30, 2012 @ 2:23 p.m.

YEP!!...Tthis story is factual. And it's holds true for the TE's (now PSE's) at the Processing and Distribution plants. It's really not funny if you are the one enduring this type of treatment. Harrassment from the regulars. Threatened with dismissal if you don't work the long overtime hours (12~14hrs......even 15!!!). Not allowed time to take a sick child to urgent care or to visit your dying grandmother in the hospital. Not allowed to go home sick when you are throwing up on the floor in front of the MDO. No health care benefits of any kind. Not allowed time off for a Dr, appointment. Told by the MDO that if you call in sick, you better be on your death bed or you will be fired!!

Oh yeah, and to Mr. RPMAILMAN: typical comment from a cynical, bitter, unhappy regular - always bitching they want more hours, but want to do less work. You should be happy with your $30~$40/hr wage and be quiet!!

A serious investigation should be done by the Federal Govt for all the illegal work/labor practices that commonly take place at your local USPS.


melcarriere March 30, 2012 @ 4:47 p.m.

Ryan, I found your article compelling, entertaining, and amusing. As a letter carrier and aspiring writer myself, I am insanely jealous, but must recognize talent when I see it. Keep it up because you're young and it is a dog eat dog industry, but you're off to a promising start. "Brad Pitt" faces sometimes have substance behind them.

One minor complaint. I was a 204B at Point Loma when you were there, so I will admonish you to take it easy on "Francine," because she tried to get your back. She is indeed gruff and irrational at times, and I've had my falling out with her, but I think she did the best she could.

I would invite you to visit my facebook page under my pen name, Mel Carriere.




normadeplum April 5, 2012 @ 9:01 p.m.

Ryan, please don't deliver mail anymore. We are the donkeys that do that. We need you writing! telling stories. Go under cover at many jobs and tell the story!


PostalJanitorSanDiego March 31, 2012 @ 3:50 a.m.

I enjoyed EVERY bit of this entire story. Mr. Ryan Bradford, you should publish this in a real BOOK. You have TALENT. I enjoyed your honest account of being a 'TE' Letter Carrier. I am a USPS Custodian for 2 different stations in San Diego. I was a Clerk from 2000 to 2010. In 2003, however, I tried carrying mail for a total of 8 days in Pacific Beach 92109. I can empathize with what you had gone through. No matter what anyone else says, carrying/delivering mail is NOT easy work!!! I have great respect for you, Ryan.

P.S. I have worked at most of the stations that were mentioned in this story (when I was a window clerk). I actually know who 'Greg' is. lol


Chrstnochoa March 31, 2012 @ 9:37 p.m.

I'm a te, I been with the post office for 6 years, and your story is 100% true! It sucks, but who els is gonna pay me $22hr in these tuff times.


PLPostman April 1, 2012 @ 11:06 p.m.

I retired as a Letter Carrier in 2009. I worked at the Point Loma Office for over 20 years. Yeah, work at the P.O IS hard and not just for TE's but Regulars too. Your comments Ryan, regarding customers and coworkers indicate that you are the wrong person for the job.

"The rain is soothing. You take satisfaction in letting it destroy the mail you’re delivering, as if it’s punishment for customers expecting you to work in these conditions"

Really? Punishment for customers expecting you to deliver mail in the rain? What did you think would happen on a rainy day? You would sit inside the van until it stops raining?

The Christmas comments, I don't know what to say

“Thank you for carrying our mail.” There’s a $20 bill. Or a box of chocolates. Or even a goddamn plate of baked goods. Those regulars who called in? F--k ’em. Those cards meant for them are now mine."

You think you worked long enough to make those kind of decisions, a noob with no street creds. Yet you write about the PO as if you were credible.

I'm glad I retired before having to share the workplace with you Ryan. Why you made it past 90 days probation is beyond me. Stick to writing and quit the PO if you haven't already, or maybe you've been fired for all I know as this was written in Jan 2010.


offroadw April 1, 2012 @ 11:45 p.m.

Dear Ryan and San Diego Reader,

This has been the best article I've read in the Reader in a long time! I was laughing so hard that I drove my coworkers from the break room (seriously, I couldn't stop). At the same time, my heart went out to all the postal workers and the crazy stuff they have to put up with. The 'jobless' people who complain that the carrier is late? Oh yeah, that is sooo my neighbour. I have a PO Box and all the staff at the Box Window are amazing and I have so much more respect for them now. I think it's time for me to get some treats for my local mailman and all the box peeps! Thank you, postal workers-yay!!! Keep up the great writing, Ryan; looking forward to a more complete memoir on the bookshelves.


CaliGirl23 April 2, 2012 @ 6:38 a.m.

This "Diary" of yours had me literally Laughing Out Loud! I will definitely be the first person in line to buy your book on this, Ryan. Good Job! And the ones who just don't "get" what you had documented in this entire article? They apparently have no sense of humor. Just saying.


jenjen April 2, 2012 @ 8:45 a.m.

I'm never putting mail in a blue box on El Cajon Blvd ever again.


diegoreds April 5, 2012 @ 9:26 p.m.

I was the TE at Andrew Jackson before Ryan. Greg was my Sup. along with Mgr Rod (Tumor) Who yelled at me "A van (Astro) is a van (windstar)." (never cert. Astro) Greg used fear and Intimidation as tool, yelling at me for waiting in Break room before Clock in when Route was cased and ready. (he is looking after himself) I am surprised he did not run into M. Jordan in Encanto who loves observing Asians to a science. I was a County Carrier in Encinitas, CA years back delivering my 2nd route at 10pm at night. I endured the Abuse for 7 years "Good boy," until you question. I was transfered from Mira Mesa for not being a "Friendly Little Island Person." I had to get the union to force MGR to give my uniform Allowance....to Think was "Written Up," for not having the correct Shoes after twisting a Ankle. They would never Approve most of Dentist and Doc Appts. 6 days a week 10 hours a day per year contract..... Call in sick and your gone. Now the PO wants to hire TE's at rate of $12 per hour.... a Job is a job if your ready to go to different stations everyday...told to call back office twice till they decide where to put you.... New on route everyday.... Now the routes are 10 hours long guess Safety and night deliveries are everyday thing. The post office still has same people who will never Retire running things. Victor (Riverfront) and Rod are Regional MGR's. The union "Recardo's" (pres) praise to your questions "Be lucky your getting those hours." The Stories all TE's can tell. Ryan, this will be a best seller book if the Truth comes out. Still waiting for the USPS "Undercover Boss," episode... they are to busy giving each other Bonuses..... Congress investigation will Really uncover truth.....???? Only God will know...


Ojibwa April 7, 2012 @ 8:03 p.m.

Ryan that was a great story. It reminded me to what I went through when I was a PTF. It sad now that it takes a long time before any new employee to become a regular. Keep it up and I hope you will do well with the PO.And watch out for those collection boxes that someone used as a Crapper ! Man that's nasty...... lol.


PostalJanitorSanDiego April 7, 2012 @ 9:45 p.m.

No matter what craft you work for at the United States Postal Service, there is always some unprofessional, uneducated, and incompetent person working under Management. They are nothing more than a big, fat JOKE.

(Some Station Managers are the BEST, though.)


sandiegosunriser April 10, 2012 @ 3:25 p.m.

That was a great story. It reminds me of a lot of jerks I had to work with when I was at the County of San Diego for quite a few years. Ninety nine per cent of the staff was great, but there always were one or two who had the maturity of a 3-year old...

We always, though, were allowed to go to medical or dental appointments and if a family member died, we were given a minimum of three days bereavement leave (more if you added your vacation time).

An investigation of USPS definitely should be conducted. It sounds like there is blatant discrimination and all kinds of abuse going on. I would not be surprised if these activities have been going on for the past sixty years.

Regarding access to a restroom, carriers should be allowed to use bottles in their vehicles, regardless if someone forgot to remove theirs. Why should the whole staff be penalized because of one person? Serious health consequences can occur when a person does not relieve themself for long periods--just ask any public school teacher.

And if a carrier wants to use my bathroom anytime, that is fine with me. After all, we are only human...


ddfatcat May 10, 2012 @ 9:35 p.m.

As a 37 year vet of the PO I can say this isn't half the shit that goes on in the P.o


sovelo2002 Nov. 4, 2012 @ 5:04 p.m.

That's sad & true thing which has being happened everyday in all of united states. mostly, if your Supervisor or Manager don't like you, they will submit a form 1723 to move (kick out) you to other stations. and you will be told that they like you very much but no choice. because...(many reason such as some regs come back from injury, or someone won the route here, so we are full...) Don't trust them. if so, you must have done something they don't like or just simply don't like you whatever you do. as everyone knows, you are a good worker or not, it really depends your boss! but I don't think Regs or managements are happy to do that. Life is amazing, sometimes your fate treats you just like what you treat others. God is fair, don't worry to much of those anuses. almost all managers and area bosses are anuse in USPS, Supervisors are just lick their anuses... whatever you are in this such ugly world, remember: the most important thing is Never loss yourself, be a good man, take care your family,and be nice for animals. you don't have to donate something to poors ( Govt took 1/3 of our scanty imcome already). so far, many companies hire part-time job. they give you full time work but part time pay! no any benefits ( insurance, vacation, sick leave & holidays pay), even like Bank of America.


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!