Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Clear the box

Besides being the first Postmaster General, in my day I was also a great weather prognosticator.

We endured some rough winters. Currently my postal associates around the country are experiencing one of the toughest winters in years. That includes the northwest and the eastern Washington/northern Idaho part of the Spokane Postal District which has seen record snowfall this December.
Just in the past three weeks alone, a record more than 51 inches of the white stuff has fallen in the Spokane area. The photo to the right shows a rural mailbox surrounded by a giant size winter wonderland in the community of Sprague, located about 45 miles southwest of Spokane.

Benny the Blogger reminds all postal customers nationwide to always clear a safe, clear path and access to their mailboxes for letter carriers.
Got your own 'snowbox' photo? Send it here.
What do you think about delivering in the snow? Click here to comment.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Going nowhere fast

It used to be that if you were cremated, your only postal shipping option was "Registered Mail."

Now, you can fly in style, thanks to a revision to Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.

The revision allows cremated remains to be shipped Express Mail, which is a great option if you want to be on time for your own funeral.

Source, Postal Bulletin 22242

Monday, December 29, 2008


Anticipation - no matter what people think of
USPS, or even what they say about their mail - everyone still feels anticipation when they open that box to retrieve the mail.

A New Year brings anticipation too. What direction will USPS take? What changes will there be in your job? What are you hoping for in 2009?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Giving back

Employees at St. Paul’s Riverview Station have built a tradition of giving back to their community. Each year they adopt a family in need and provide gifts and other essentials to brighten the holiday season. They’ve been doing it for more than 20 years.

“Riverview has a reputation for having a pretty close-knit group, both amongst ourselves and in our neighborhoods,” said letter carrier Diane Ellis Eckert. Sometimes they contact the local schools to find a family to help. Otherwise “we know our routes and we know our families.”

This year’s sponsored family lost their mother to domestic violence earlier this year. Volunteers shopped earlier this week and now a bounty of toys, stuffed animals, sporting equipment, winter clothing and lots of other goodies flows across the manager’s office, waiting to be wrapped and delivered. “Participation is 100 percent,” Ellis Eckert reports. “Everybody takes part in some way.”

Thursday, December 25, 2008

We deliver

A self portrait of Minnesota Letter Carrier Cystal Enger - capturing her frozen tears in the cold, cold December weather.

Merry Christmas from the staff of Corporate Communications

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2009 Payroll calendar

Well....the year is about wrapping up. At this point, I'm about to burst. So much candy, cookies and sweets have been given by my customers at Ye Ole Post Office that now I'm convinced they're hoping to see me roll home just for laughs.

And there's more to go, with big dinners cooked by Mrs. Franklin .... hams, pies, turkeys and more trimmings than I can imagine.

So, there's no better time than now to think about next year -- days off, holidays and paydays. I just need a day to digest!

Click on the image to the right and you'll have a full calendar of this next year.

Ho Ho Ho

While Santa (Pat Reynolds) and Mrs. Claus (Marcela Juarez Rivera) greeted customer Aimee Caldwell-George, Retail Associate Steve Cowan was eagerly waiting to help with this mailing that was headed overseas.

These Denver Downtown Main employees and others helped kick off the holiday season with demonstrations, free gift wrapping, packing tips, cookies, hot chocolate and more.

Now that the season is almost over, let's hope some of the cheer hangs on into the new year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mail Must go Through

Ever heard a customer say they were home bound because the weather was so bad, but then complain that the mail had not been delivered yet?

They take for granted that "nothing will stop you from your appointed rounds."

That's a good image to have. As you work to live up to it, make yourself #1 though. Take the time, watch the step, be careful. A little late is better than not at all.

And when you are back home and comfortable by the fire, remember there is a whole host of people who are grateful, even if you don't always hear it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It’s a Wonderful Life! -- literally

It will truly be a Christmas to remember for 204-B Supervisor Eric Brooks and his family, thanks to the heroic actions of three of his fellow Denver Mail Processing Annex (MPA) employees recently.

On the night of Dec. 10, Brooks was working at his desk in the supervisor offices of the Denver MPA in Aurora, talking and joking with his fellow managers and co-workers. Suddenly, Brooks stood up, gasped and struggled to breathe while looking pale and distressed. His co-workers and supervisors there at the time included Tour 3 Acting MDO Ali Rashed, Mailhandler Paul Ramirez and Safety Specialist Paul Hill.

The three immediately sensed Brooks’ difficulty and rushed to help him. They all correctly assessed that Brooks was likely having some type of heart attack. They quickly went to his aid, placed him in a prone position, and began administering CPR. For several minutes, they worked furiously in attempting to get him breathing again and to get his pulse.
In the meantime, another worker called 911 for medical assistance. Within minutes, an emergency response team arrived on the scene. The paramedics quickly took over the excellent care and recovery efforts of Brooks initially provided by the trio. While Brooks remained unconscious and in still grave condition, the paramedics were able to get him stabilized and then taken to a local hospital. He spent the next few days in the hospital, but is now recovering very well and resting at home, with the hopes of returning to his job eventually.

Brooks is thankful for the three heros.

"I’ve very grateful to these guys. As far as I’m concerned they are heroes. It’s going to be a special Christmas to remember thanks to them."

260 Military Packages sent

Julia Townsend, an Idaho Falls resident wanted to send Christmas care packages to her son and other soldiers stationed In Iraq. She originally hoped to send 60 Priority boxes, but with the help of her employer and co-workers at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the project expanded out into the community and she was able to secure enough donated goods to send 260 care packages.

Julia Townsend conceived Operation Iraqi Star, an INL project to provide Christmas gifts to US troops of the 25th Infantry Division recently deployed to the war zone in Iraq.

"This really strikes you hard when it is your child who is going overseas," Townsend said. "As a mom I can no longer protect my son. Instead, he is protecting me. So I am doing this for all the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters who have relatives serving in Iraq. We just want them to know how loved they are and how very much we miss them."

The project grew with the help of local businesses and residents, and her original projection of 60 care packages grew to 260. Townsend was in contact with Rory Scott, Manager Customer Services throughout the process to make sure that mailing standards were met.

Local television News 8 covered the story as the 260 APO/FPO Flat Rate Priority boxes were delivered to the Eagle Rock Station for processing. Service and Sales Associates Bill Lynes and Mary Miller processed the custom forms and packages. The packages are being sent to three different soldiers who will give out the packages and play Santa to their fellow soldiers.
"Our employees didn’t mind the extra work," said Rory. "We were caught up in the spirit of giving, and were happy to help!"

Townsend doesn’t want the soldiers to feel forgotten until next Christmas, so she plans to do a similar project for Valentines Day. Click here to read the News 8 story and see the video. You may not be able to view the video on a Postal computer, but you can view from a home computer.

Friday, December 19, 2008

No stopping us!

Despite record snowfalls yesterday, Spokane, WA, city carriers were not deterred. Roads and airports were closed. Businesses were shuttered all over town. Even the mall closed. But these carriers still found a way to make as many deliveries as possible.

Photo Courtesy Lisa Q. Nystuen
What was your toughest day delivering? How did it make you feel when you were done? Drop me a note in the comment section below this post.

Seeing double

The city of Meridian is one of Idaho's fastest-growing cities. Centrally located in the most populated area of the state, it is an important hub leading into the Boise Metro area. Last year a new carrier annex was added to help with the need for more carrier space.

This year, to help ease the lines at the retail counter, the Meridian Post Office has just added a "twin" Automated Postal Center (APC).

Last year, some customers took the time to report how happy they were with APCs.

Here’s a sampling:
"I love the APC in the Post Office. It made holiday mailing so easy!"
"I like the new APC. It’s easy to use and eliminates the need to wait in long lines at holiday time."
"I love the Automated Postal Center. It’s always open, and there’s no line. I come after work — 10:30 p.m. — mail all my packages and buy stamps using my debit card. It’s so easy."

This holiday season Meridian customers will have double the convenience with two APCs.

Nationally, the Postal Service is promoting increased use of APCs to reduce the wait time in line and to introduce more customers to the 24/7 convenience of APCs .

"Customer satisfaction surveys reveal that 91 percent of residential customers have never used an APC," VP and Consumer Advocate Delores Killette said. "So there’s a terrific upside to reaching out to more of our customers. First-time users tell us that they appreciated the employee showing them how to use the APC as they moved from ‘scared’ nonusers to ‘frequent’ APC users.

Killette urges postal employees to introduce more customers to the convenience of APCs.

Perhaps they’ll have a holiday experience like this one — "It’s Christmastime and very busy, but the line moved quickly. Employees were friendly and helpful. I used the APC to mail a package and an employee even checked to see if I needed help. Awesome!"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Trading places

For the 2008 Combined Federal Campaign, Hawkeye Senior Plant Manager Jim Herrmann sponsored a drawing for employees of the Des Moines P&DC. Prizes included gift cards and merchandise contributed by local merchants. For a $1 contribution employees could enter a drawing for the prize of their choice.

Two popular items in the raffle were a private parking space for any month of the year as chosen by the winner, and the opportunity to win Herrmann’s labor for the day. The unions agreed to Herrmann’s craft work for a day.

Automation SDO Teri King was the winner of the drawing for the chance to reverse the roles with her boss for the day. On Friday, December 5th Herrmann kept his end of the bargain. King assigned him to work both as a mailhandler on the LCTS and as a mail processing clerk on a DBCS.

The employees helped Herrmann learn of things that were overlooked in implementing systems within the plant and he praised them for the positive experience.

The Postal Employee’s Relief Fund received nearly $2000 as the result of Herrmann’s initiative.
Benny likes it when postal employees give of their time and money. Any other stories out there? Especially during the Christmas and holiday season. Send an email to me by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Carved nutcrackers were made in England and France as early as the 1400's, but the brightly carved ones now associated with the Christmas season were first crafted by German woodcarvers in the early 1800's. At first they were not associated with the holiday, and the 1816 publication of "The nutcracker and the Mouse King" by E.T.A. Hoffman was a dark tale not meant for children.

A friendlier adaptation by Alexander Dumas Pere was set to music by Peter Tshaikovsky and premeired as a ballet in Russia in 1892. In 1944 the Nutcracker was first performed in America by the San Francisco Ballet and ten years later the New York City Ballet presented it with new choreography by George Balanchine. Now it is America's most-performed ballet, making the nutcrackers collectibles and many are decorative only.

Glenn Crider is a rare craftsman who creates the nutcrackers from start to finish. He was commissioned to make the four that appear on this year's holiday stamps.

What do you think of the nutcrackers? Do you have a memory of one?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fly the Friendly Skies

Pictured is the Denver International Airport postal station.

Customers here can stop by and mail items they don't want to pay baggage surcharges on. Or gifts they've purchased that won't fit in their luggage.

Many customers aren't aware of the postal services available at airports. What would be a good way to promote this?

Have you ever used a post office at an airport?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Oh to be retired

The Retirees’ Breakfast must go on!

Faced with having to cancel the annual event due to budget constraints, Topeka, KS, employees found a way to keep the tradition alive.

"This event has special meaning for us," said Postmaster B. Steven Pinkerton. "Thankfully, none of us is above begging! Our local Social and Rec committee contributed the majority of the funding, and donations from our current employees made up for the balance."

Approximately 50 grateful postal retirees attended the breakfast. Topeka employees past and present enjoyed the opportunity to mix and mingle. New friendships were made and relationships strengthened.

"The breakfast is great. It gives us time to come together and renew old acquaintances," said former City Carrier Paul Rodgers, who retired in 2006.

"This was my first time coming and it has been very enjoyable" said former Tecumseh, KS, Postmaster Waldean Miller, a 1993 retiree.

Former City Carrier Ernie Alexander, a 1985 retiree, summed up the event in one word – "Great!"

"I love the breakfast and this celebration has given me an opportunity to meet different retirees along with the retirees that I already know," said former City Carrier Bob VanDruff, postal class of 2006.

"Thanks for another great get-together for the retirees," said former City Carrier Jim Hinton, who retired in 2002. "I'm sure that if next year you have to charge a fee, everyone would still show up. You guys out did yourselves again this year."

"I am very fortunate to work with the entire Topeka team, and that includes our retirees," said Pinkerton.
Below is a picture of Topeka Postmaster B. Steven Pinkerton (l) visiting with with former Ulysses, KS, Postmaster Bill Miller, who retired in 1985.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Very carefully

Tis' the season for many packages.

And some will be breakable. For many people, this may be the only time of year that they send a package. So we all need to be careful in the way we handle them.

Give them a good memory.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The red and green attack

Soon, red and green envelopes will fill mailboxes across the country. Where did this tradition begin?

Christmas and holiday cards have been popular since 1875, when Louis Prang, a lithographer and German immigrant who settled in Boston, published his first holiday card for customers.

Lat year, Americans exchanged about 2 billion cards. The average American mails 26 greeting cards between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- up from 21 in 2004. 60 percent of all cards are mailed the first two weeks of December.

And just to balance things out, 15 percent of Americans send their cards out after New Year's Day.

Holiday stamps are common today -- with billions sold. But the very first holiday stamp was printed in 1962. The green and red 4-cent stamp featured a wreath, two candles and the words "Christmas 1962."

Photo by Marcy Earley

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

150th Birthday Envelope

The Mile HIgh city is celebrating it's 150th birthday this year and the Denver Post Office teamed up with the City to help celebrate.

The commemorative envelope shown at right is available for $7, and special postmark (not shown) is also available for free until January 30, 2009.

Send your requests to:
Denver's 150th Birthday postmark and/or souvenir envelope
951 20th Street
Denver CO 80202-9998

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Green your holidays and the U.S. Postal Service have partnered to share an important message: Don’t take a holiday from recycling.

Waste output can increase as much as 25 percent during the holidays. and the USPS are presenting the “Green Your Holidays” channel, with simple, practical tips to make sure you don’t contribute to that statistic.

The Green Your Holidays channel shows how to reduce, reuse and recycle key products associated with the holidays, including Christmas trees, gift packaging, greeting cards and holiday lights. It also provides the opportunity for consumers to search more than 100,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada that recycle these products, and features guides to make holiday-related activities like parties and shopping more eco-friendly.

The USPS will be contributing valuable content about recycled content packaging, greening your mail and holiday cards, and insights on avoiding lines during the busiest times for the Postal Service. For more, visit

Monday, December 8, 2008

If you use it, it will grow

I recently came across this great quote written by one of our own, Charles Mapa, the President of the League of Postmasters:

"Americans are a reciprocating people; if you send us a card or gift we are likely to return the gesture. America’s postal employees should view themselves as 'ambassadors of the mail.' We, as individuals, can help lead the cultural change back to the use of the mails. We can use it—or lose it. I choose to use it"

I wish I would have wrote this for one of my early bestsellers, but I'll give Mapa his due.
His point is, if we want to preserve this great organization , we have to believe in it. We have to believe in it so much that we use it.

We can't turn revenue around with just one little ole' stamp. But it can be the start of something great.

Using Mapa's logic makes sense. Send a card. Get a card. And others send cards. And it grows. What do you think about employees using the mail more?
(Photo credit Lisa Weber)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Postal Podcast

I just got done listening to Your Postal Podcast, v. 6 and my ears are tingling with delight.
I heard about the ultra cool new T3 delivery vehicle.

I also heard about a man who’s 1956 Chrysler 300 is featured on a new stamp. And there's a great story about a clerk who actually appeared on the Johnny Carson show.

And they have a very cool prize -- a chance to win a copy of the DVD set of the HBO, award-winning miniseries, John Adams. Not quite as good as the Ben Franklin miniseries (which hasn't aired -- or filmed-- or been written yet, but will certainly be a smash hit)

You can reach it from the upper right hand side of Your Postal Blog, or by clicking here.

If you have iTunes, an Ipod, or an MP3 player, you can subscribe to all future postal podcasts to get them automatically.

Understand, the Franklins are printing family. We like paper. But I have to admit, I kind of like this audio-stuff. I can put my headphones while I fly my kite. Wait. That's not such a good idea.

Anyway. Tune in. And drop me a note if you like this kind of stuff.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

From the comfort of your home

The Las Vegas, NV, Post Office had a unique demonstration. They brought a living room into the Post Office to show customers how easy it is to bring the PO into customers living room.

Thanks to Click-N-Ship and Free Package Pickup, you might just never have to leave home!

That would only work for a while in the Franklin home. Mrs. F. has a short tolerance for me. She doesn't quite like my constant quips, proverbs and sayings. But I have to test them before I print them and all of my "friends" scatter when they see me.

But I digress. Check out Click-N-Ship here -- it really is quite a service.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Be safe, not sorry

This accident happened recently in the CO/WY District when a postal employee was rear-ended by another driver.

Fortunately, the driver was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.

Remember, buckle up for safety. You never know what the other drivers are capable of!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Clean Up Crew

Rural Carriers and Associates at Summerlin Station, NV, decided to spend some time tidying up on two Fridays in October.

At a QWL meeting, the unsanitary, unsafe and unsightly condition of LLV's was discussed. So they decided to do something about it.

Volunteers showed up at 6:30, before the work day began for some of them, and they cleaned out the rural LLV's and vans. Sweeping and cleaning windows inside and out. Then they decided to extend the cleanup and did the city side LLV's and vans as well!

What industry! What teamwork! What sharing!
"As often as we do good, we sacrifice." ~ Ben Franklin

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pretty in Pink

Kesy Groves and Traci Bodlak are retail associates at South Sioux City, NE.

Kesy has been organizing a breast cancer day for the last 10 years. This year, the office sold 1918 of the stamps - $1054.90 in revenue.

And helped support a good cause. Kesy herself is an 18 year survivor and has a strong desire to help others. She gets brochures from the Cancer Society, and donates the freebie handouts herself.

I once said, "By diligence and patience, the mouse bit in two the cable." This cancer will be overcome with diligence.