United States Postal Service
I thought a lot about if I should put this job in the list. I have known people who like and totally hate working there. A government agency, it puts you around people who do not at all fit the BPB lifestyle. With all that, there are reasons to consider here. I will break it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can make your own choice.
Created as we know it today on July 1, 1971, the USPS replaced the “Post Office.” Now an independent but government agency, the USPS takes pride that it takes no government funding. The object of unknown number of jokes, the place needs competent people to run it. As Newman said, “THE MAIL NEVER STOPS!” And it does not. Mail moves 365 days a year. One big issue of concern after the 9/11 Muslim Terror Attacks on the World Trade Center was what to do with all the mail? Each tower was its own ZIP code, and while it was clear that every tenant would sooner or later tell the USPS how to forward their mail, they were looking at days to months of mail piling up. Even what had already been sent would have to be piled up somewhere.
Having about 620,000 employees means that there is room to do all kinds of jobs. Carrier is what we all think about, and will be the most common. If you apply, expect carrier to be where you start. You might remain there forever. Or not. They need sorters, desk clerks. mechanics to repair and maintain their fleet of vehicles, supervisors, HR people, the works.
Independent the USPS is, but it is still a government agency. Most employees will get all federal holidays off. They still give a classic pension (the reason they have been so on the edge financially the last decade.) If you want to relocate, moving costs will be on you, but the chance to bid on a job is there. Double-edge sword here as it will all be based on seniority and having a clean record.
The Bad varies here. I asked one person who I know went to the USPS to work and he described it as “the worst job I have ever had!” This of course is just one person, but we should face that the USPS is not going to be for everyone. Some of the negatives I have heard might not be so bad to some guys. Lets consider.
- You are tracked to death nowadays. Check your own mailbox and see if there is a bar-code on it. Carriers in these areas have to scan each and every box. One we had forgot his reader and had to re-walk his entire route, scanning them all. There are standards to where to be when. If you are behind, you had better pick it up, if you are ahead, you must wait. This is the result of abuse, when I was a kid the mail truck was parked in front of the carrier’s house for at least an hour a day!
- It is a six day a week job. Mail gets delivered to most places 6 days a week. You will get some personal days, but forget about having a “normal” weekend. Forget about Saturday side hustles. It will be overtime when over 40 hours, thought.
- It takes a real manliness to do delivery work. If you have not had to deliver anything to homes, you will be in for a surprise. Too many people seem to hate putting street numbers on their homes. Seems simple, but you will in an hour wonder what the deal is. Others have too small mailboxes, hard to access porches, not to mention dogs. You will not know this until you try it. While you may be to mark the occasional delivery a “no number/no find,” they hired you to deliver it, not say why you could not.
The Ugly is more about atmosphere than anything else. Part of the BPB philosophy is to hang around people who bring you up, not down. Like many government employees, while they may put in a hard day of work, they do not make the atmosphere that is the most healthy. Add in top management of this kind of bureaucratic organization, and the place may grind you down.
- Getting in the door is not going to be fast or easy. Vets get priority, not a bad thing, but that makes it longer for the rest. Expect 3-6 months from first application to your start date. Consider trying to get in seasonally, the USPS hires seasonal sorters, lots of them, for the Christmas season. Start to look late summer online and occasional signs at USPS facilities.
- Once hired, you are not full time on staff. Hours will vary, as low as 1-2 days a month to being worked to death in the aforesaid Christmas season. Naturally, the longer you are on the more this levels off, but still expect Nov-Jan to be a back-breaker.
- This is, as I said, not the kind of place that will nurture your plans for a BPB lifestyle. It is the kind of place where the two biggest topics for discussion are available OT and how long until pension. Seniority based promotion means you slog forever, waiting for the person in the slot you want to be promoted, retire, or quit. When you are at a place where a few people are side-hustling and such, you get motivated. When people care about OT only, so do you.
The choice here is yours. At the least, it is food in the fridge while other plans come together. But consider carefully.