Thursday, December 30, 2010

Charging for Saturday deliveries

A reader in the USA Today newspaper suggested the Postal Service charge customers $10 a week for Saturday delivery.

Do you think this idea would work? Would you have customer's who would pay for such a service? Leave your comment here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mobile Post Offices - a simple answer?

Many Districts and large citiies have Mobile Post Offices that they use for major outdoor events, nursing homes, or regular stops in neighborhoods.

They area cheap to operate, offer nearly all postal supplies and services, and help boost our brand.

So what if we used them more? What if we bought a fleet of 500 and deployed them around the country. They could serve clusters of rural areas, metro centers and other places.

What do you think? How could we use mobile Post Offices to increase our revenue, reduce costs and improve service?

Comments welcomed here!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A brand you can trust

If I were to ask you to name the brands you like best, what would you answer?

In a 2010 survey — conducted by marketing research firm NewMediaMetrics — consumers say USPS, unranked in 2009, is 15th among brands they find the most attractive.

The survey asked 3,500 Americans between the ages of 13 and 54 to rank on a scale of 0-10 the companies they liked based on their “emotional attachment.”

The survey shows which brands people are least willing to give up. The iPod brand tops the list, followed by iPhone, Disney Parks, XBox and Microsoft Office Suite.

The United States Postal Service follows Google, Apple, and Blackberry and beats out Microsoft Windows, Victoria's Secret, Verizon Wireless, and Visa.

Take a look at Market Research Facts to see the Top 60 brands.
What do you think about this? What does this say about the Postal Service?

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Postal Customer" -- Making it easier to mail

If you work in an office with city delivery, you know that saturation mail has to be addressed. It's not easy for mailers -- especially small business owners, who must purchase mailing lists and print individual address labels.

Wouldn't it be cheaper for mailers and easier for us just to put "one in every box?"

According to PR Newswire, USPS will change the rules on January 2, allowing for simplified addressing on saturation flat-size mailpieces and irregular parcels in order to reach target customers in specific neighborhoods.

It is expected to help small businesses like pizza joints, barbers and restaurants who want to target the customers in their neighborhood.

The move is projected to bring in between $100-500 million per year in new revenue.

What do you think? Do you like the idea? Will it help grow business? Will it increase carrier hours? Will your customers like it? Comment here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deer Whisperer saves Rudolph's cousin

Salt Lake City letter carrier Jana Halliday added “deer whisperer” to the list of things she’s good at.

Halliday, who works out of the Holladay Branch, was walking up a driveway to deliver a package when she saw a small deer stuck in a wrought iron fence. The deer had made it part of the way through, but its hind quarters were caught and the deer was “flailing and losing hair,” said Halliday, who’s worked for the Postal Service for 24 years.

Halliday decided she couldn’t leave the deer like that, so she walked up to it and started talking in a soft voice. “He mellowed out and looked at me with big brown eyes,” she said. “I even petted him.”

 With the deer standing still, Jana pulled on the fence and the deer bounded away. “ she's efficient in her duties, but her ability to care about people and even a helpless little deer makes her very special,” said a customer who witnessed the event.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Handling the holidays

It is estimated that we will process and deliver about 152 million packages this Christmas Season. Top that with billions of cards and letters.

And thanks to all our efforts, our customers know we'll get the job done no matter what.

But still, it can be hard. So, how are you handling the challenges at work?

Cookies?  Christmas music on your MP3 player? Talking with family? EAP?

If you have a tip, please share it. Someone might need your idea!
Comment here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twin Cities coalition sends 700 packages to deployed military memebers

For troops overseas, a package from home is a real morale booster. Twin Cities Post Offices joined with the 4th and 5th District American Legion, 30 schools and others for the 3rd annual Shop, Ship, & Share (SSS) event at Rosedale Center. SSS provides boxes of needed supplies, treats and messages from home to Minnesota soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Students and the Legion posts solicited donated items for the care packages and wrote letters of thanks and encouragement. They did much of the preparation of the boxes, which were finished by volunteers at the Rosedale event. Postage on the boxes was paid through donations gathered by Legion posts throughout the Twin Cities, and by the generosity of shoppers who stopped at Shop, Ship & Share to add their support.

In all, more than 680 boxes are now on their way to provide holiday cheer. “This is spectacular,” said 4th District Legion Commander Teresa Ash, who headed up the effort. “It’s difficult to put into words how much this support means.”

Letters to Santa: What are kids asking for?

In the Dec. 15 USA Today, a story appeared on the front page quoting postal employees who had witnessed some heartbreaking letters to Santa.

Many kids were simply asking for coats, socks and shoes. 

The article said this, "Santa Claus and his elves are seeing more heartbreaking letters this year as children cite their parents' economic troubles in their wish lists."

Was this surprising to you? Also, have you read any letters to Santa that were heartbreaking? If so, please share them here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow man delivers

Postmaster Bonnie Bunch and Retail Associate Betti Knoll created this Priority Snow Man display for their Rose Hill, KS, Post Office lobby.

Shake, Rattle and Roll: Handling Packages With Care

Popular Mechanics recently conducted a test not of speed, but of handling in their article, "Which Shipping Company is Kindest to Your Packages?"

The magazine installed monitors inside packages and shipped them through UPS, FedEx, and the Postal Service. The monitors recorded acceleration, orientation and temperatures while the parcels made their way across the country.

According to the magazine, the Postal Service has the most tender-loving care, with the least measured amount of drops from any height. However, among the three shippers, USPS turned over packages the most.

The devices also recorded temperature and all three carriers had a relatively stable swing in temperature, with FedEx's average change of 26 degrees versus USPS 32 degree swing.

When an item was marked "Fragile" or "This Side Up," the packages actually were handled more roughly.

What's your opinion? Although we are the best, can we do better?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Darkness and might

Journey to Alaska and Kuwait

With this month's Your Postal Podcast features a day -- a very cold, dark day -- in the life of a Fairbanks letter carrier. Hear what it's like to deliver mail in Alaska's extreme winter weather by listening to the 31st edition of the podcast here. 

In addition, you'll hear about Priority Mail care packages being received by soldiers stationed in Kuwait, and you’ll get a roundup of the latest postal news.

The podcasts can also be accessed free at the iTunes store or via any RSS feeder.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa, a sleigh and Priority Mail

Our friends over at the Suncoast Scoop unearthed this gem.

Empty Priority Mail boxes are already assembled around the sleigh, ready for customers to grab and go. The sleigh was constructed by Tampa FL,  Customer Services Supervisor Wendy Bivona.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Woman crashes into Post Office, but still mails parcel

A 90-year old woman in Oliver, PA, crashed into the local Post Office.
All she wanted to do was mail a package.

According to the Cincinatti Inquirer, she wouldn't get out of the car unless the Postmaster assured her that her mail would be sent.
The driver was okay. And yes, we delivered as promised.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If you had to choose just one stamp to represent the U.S. Postal Service, what would it be?

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum is conducting a poll to see which U.S. postage stamp should represent the United States in the new International Collections Exhibit of the new William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.

The International Collections Exhibit will explore geography, ancestry, history, culture, the environment, and other global topics and themes through interpretive displays of stamps and other philatelic items from around the world.

Additionally, the gallery will feature one stamp from each country, including the United States. Which of these stamps do you think best represents America?

Statue of Liberty
Capitol Dome
Liberty Bell
Shield, Eagle and Flags
Moon Landing
Freedom Statue
Flag and Fireworks

Voting will be open until midnight, January 20, 2011.

Click here to cast your ballot.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Caption Contest: If trucks could talk

Here's mine: "Hey little buddy? You still around? It's been, what, 25 years?"

If these trucks could talk, what would they be saying to each other?

Packaging and mailing tips

Here are some familiar, but helpful packaging tips:
· Make sure packages can withstand processing without the contents or box breaking.
· Cushion items with bubble wrap and foam peanuts so they do not shift during transit.
· Wrap each item separately when packing more than one item in the same box.
· Remove batteries from electronic devices and wrap separately.
· Use new boxes when possible. When reusing a box make sure previous labels and markings are covered before mailing.
· Place an extra address label with the delivery and return address inside the package. This ensures the safe return of an item that could not be delivered should the outside label become damaged or fall off.
· Always use tape designed for sealing shipping boxes. Do not use string, cellophane or masking tape to seal packages.
· Packages can weigh up to 70 lbs. and measure up to 130 inches in combined length and width. Make sure the width is measured around the largest point of the package.

Guidelines for addressing envelopes and packages:

Print complete address clearly.

A complete address includes:
  • the recipient’s name
  • Post Office Box or street number
  • street name
  • suffix (AVE., ST, LN, etc.)
  • directional (N, E, S, W)
  • secondary address (apartment or suite number)
  • city, state and 5-digit ZIP Code
Use the proper ZIP Code. ZIP Codes can be found at or by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS. Never guess at the ZIP Code. No ZIP Code is better than a wrong ZIP Code.

Print the delivery and return addresses on the same side of the envelope or package.

Always use a return address. It tells the Postal Service where to return mail if it cannot be delivered.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"They're like family." Carrier puts out flames in apartment complex

 Cedar Rapids Letter Carrier Angie Martin is a woman of action.
Cedar Rapids Fire Chief Stephen Reid presents
 Letter Carrier Angie Martin with a
certificate for extinguishing a fire on her route.

She was recently honored for extinguishing a fire before it got out of control inside an apartment building last month.

Martin has training as a volunteer firefighter, but never got the chance to help put out a fire before now.

When she was delivering mail to the 20th Street apartment complex, she saw three-foot flames shooting up from a sink inside one of the units. She then grabbed a fire extinugisher and was able to put out the flames before firefighters arrived on the scene.

Why did she do it?

She told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that it was because of her protective nature.

"They are like an extended family," Martin said.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Frosty the Snowman makes a big impression

You can find this magnificent Priority Mail snowman in Wichita, KS.
It was created by River City Station Associate Gregory Boyd.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Carrier saves life

Superior WI TE Gloria Sramek
Superior WI Letter Carrier, Gloria Sramek, saved a life of a baby while out on her route for the day.

A young couple were outside their home, calling for help and claiming that their baby had died.

Sramek observed the baby was blue in color and not breathing. She initiated CPR and emergency crews took over a few minutes later.

First responders credited Sramek with saving the baby's life.

What do you think about this? Comment here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Postmaster General: Day One!

Pat Donohoe officially takes over as Postmaster General this week.

He'll have his hands full, with the challenge of declining demand, revenue and volumes that all put stress on our massive infrastructure. With every decision, he'll have to balance customer concerns, political challenges and the needs of  560,000 employees.

He wrote a letter to those employees. You can read it here and here.

What do you think about the letter? Got any advice? Encouragement? Words of wisdom? Share them here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer comes to Post Offices

DVDs of Classic Media’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the longest-running TV holiday special of all time, are being made available this holiday season at will be available at more than 5,000 Post Offices nationwide.
If you buy the DVD and ship using Priority Mail, you get a $2 discount.

What do you think about this? What about your customers? Do you plan on buying one? Comment here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kids can color their Post Office this season

Here's a great image from Nevada, OH, Postmaster Earl Musick that you can use as a coloring contest for local schoolchildren. Feel free to print off and make sure you drop Earl a note of thanks!

To use, you can click below and print the image. Or you can click below, then right click and "copy." Then paste the image into a PowerPoint so it prints vertically.

Illustration by Earl Musick

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On line presence

We encourage many of our customers to use -- and for good reason. You can order supplies, buy stamps and even ask for a carrier to come to your house. And this Christmas season, we'll be pushing this option even more as a way to avoid a trip to the Post office.

But what do you think could be improved? As there some things on that we should start doing? What do your customers ask for? Do you use yourself?

Comment here

Monday, November 29, 2010

$8.5 billion loss -- but there's more to the story

Last week, the Postal Service announced that the year-end loss was, gulp, $8.5 billion.

But there's more to the story:

If we didn't to have to pay $5.5 billion to prefund Retiree Health Benefits and we were not impacted by changing interest rates for Worker's Compensation, our controllable, operating loss would have been only $500 million.

That puts things in perspective, don't you think?

The Wisconsin State Journal wrote a story on the loss and said this:

"It's time for Congress to get serious about stabilizing the service — without jacking up the price of stamps yet again.

        "Congress should:
• Let the Postal Service reduce payments of retirees' health insurance premiums.
• Grant the Postal Service authority to reduce delivery from six days a week to five.
• Let the Postal Service close more of its offices and outlets.
• Lift the Postal Service monopoly on letters and mailbox deliveries to allow competition.
• Allow the service to develop more competitive products."

So, what do you think? Comment here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

ZIP Code envy

Benny here.

In a post last week we talked about the most expensive ZIP Codes.

That got me to thinking.

Is there ZIP Code envy? Do you think people actually move based on the perceived value of a certain ZIP Code?

Who are the carriers who deliver to these prestigious ZIP Codes? Do they even know?

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Your Postal Podcast: A beautiful mind for ZIP Codes

Mr Zip Code Man, David Rossteider

The latest edition of Your Postal Podcast, available online now at, gets inside the head of a Colorado man who has memorized every ZIP Code location in the country and found a way to make a living showing off this unusual talent.

The new podcast also tells the story of how you can mail handwritten "Thank You" notes with a keyboard and mouse, thanks to a new service created by two Texas entrepreneurs.
To read a transcript of this, the 30th edition of our audio magazine, please click here.
While at the website, you can also catch up on any of the 29 previous editions of the audio show.  All of the podcasts may also be downloaded free at the iTunes store or via any RSS feeder. Please provide feedback, ideas or comments for Your Postal Podcast by clicking here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Calling out all doodlers, cartoonists and illustrators

Does anyone out there have illustrating skills? We would sure like to have someone who could shake things up with humorous drawings and cartoons depicting this postal life.

Send a sample to Benny here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The most expensive ZIP Codes

Location, location, location. For the well-to-do, it's all about having the right ZIP Code.

Although the Postal Service uses ZIP Codes for mail transportation, sortation and delivery, their are plenty of other uses.

Forbes magazine recently sorted the nation's wealthy by ZIP Codes, using median home price as a gauge on wealth. California, despite the recent real estate plunge, is still a wealth leader.

The most expensive? Duarte, California, ZIP 91008. The median cost of a home there is $4.7 million.

Here's the rest of the list:
2. 94027, Atherton, CA, $4 million
3. 90274, Rolling Hills, CA, $3.8 million
4. 07620, Alpine, NJ, $3.8 million
5. 10014, New York, NY,  $3.7 million
6. 90210, Beverly Hills, CA, $3.6 million
7. 10065, New York, NY, $3.6 million
8. 94920, Belvedere/Tiburon, CA, $3.2 million
9. 10012, New York, NY, $3.2 million.
10. 93108, Santa Barbara/Montecito, CA, $3.1 million

Check out the data in your ZIP here.

Have you ever lived near one of these ZIP Codes? Know anyone who does? Comment here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Letters to Santa

Kids are starting to write letter to Santa. What do you think they'll be asking for?
More importantly, what are YOU  asking for?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cold weather just around the corner

How do you prepare yourself for the coming cold weather months?
Do you get flu shots? Buy new boots?
Do you read up on hypothermia or frostbite?
Or do you work in Arizona and really don't care?

Comment here.

Photo courtesy, Doug Short

Monday, November 15, 2010

Would greeting cards, postage included, sell?

According to the Washington Post, the Postal Service is flirting with the idea of letting greeting card companies preprint postage on the envelopes they include with their cards.

This would eliminate the need to make another trip to buy stamps.

It's an innovative idea that might just revive both the greeting card and Postal Service.

What do you think? Good idea? Or do you have another suggestion? Comment here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

In the beginning: Postal postcards

In 1869, Austria became the first country to issue cards imprinted with stamps. Other European countries soon did the same and the public response was overwhelming.

 A year later, the U.S>  Postmaster General recommended that Post Office Department follow the same route. It took nearly two years to get congressional approval, however, because of concerns about the privacy of messages.

The Post Office Dept. issued its first penny postal card in May of 1873.

US Postal Department-issued penny postcard
It was immediately a smash success. More than 200,000 cards were sold in 2½ hours in New York City. Nationwide more than 64 million were sold in the first five months, or roughly two for every man, woman and child, long before the advent of direct marketing.

Except during WWI, postal cards were 1 cent until 1952, hence the name “penny postcard”

In 1994 the first postal card sets featuring collectible artwork were introduced. These are sold in packets or booklets of 10 or 20 and the postage matches the design.

Do you use postal-issued postcards?
Comment here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day!

Post your Veteran's Day thoughts here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Flat tubs for sale

Our flat tubs are hot items. You see them in garages, at flea markets, in hospitals and even in the backs of our competitor's vehicles. (see this post from last month for the evidence.)

But here's an idea that's been suggested by others. Why not offer our flat tubs for sale?  They are well-made, perfect for not only mail but also for car parts, books and garden supplies, and could sport a little USPS advertising.

The ones for sale would be colored or stamped differently than the workroom variety so they could be easily distinguished.

Good idea? If so, how much should they sell for? Comment here.

(By the way, in case you missed it. If you see large amounts of equipment, you can call the special phone number 866-330-3404 or email

Veteran's Day tomorrow. Salute!

Photo courtesy Marcy Earley

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stamps and coffee - Do the two mix?

For years, we've been encouraging people to use alternate access to buy postal products and services.

Grocery stores,, Click-N-Ship, and contract stations have seen dramatic increases in the percentage of postage business. They've taken our product to where it's most convenient. 

But what do you think impact would be if we attracted people to our lobbies, renting out space to coffee vendors or bakeries? Besides the rental revenue, what do you think our customers would think?

Comment here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tubs across America

Mail Processing, Retail and Delivery Operations use mail transportation equipment (MTE), to sort and deliver mail nationwide on a daily basis. 
Our equipment is costly to replace and we spend millions each year. Not all of the replacements are due to normal wear and tear. Tubs and trays regularly find their way into garages, trunks and garages.
In 2009, U.S Postal Inspectors recovered $2.1 million worth of MTE that had either been stolen or was being misused.
If you see large amounts of equipment, you can call the special phone number 866-330-3404 or email
With the holidays approaching, we need every piece of equipment in our system.
Do you see a misuse of MTE? What do you do if you see it? Comment here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Postcards: When did they get their start?

In 1861, John Charlton of Philadelphia obtained the first copyright on privately produced postcards which he transferred to HL Lipman. The first “Lipman Postal card” was postmarked October 28, 1870 and required letter-rate postage.

In 1898 – congress passed an act approving a special rate for postcards, one cent, which was the same rate as used for cards issued by the Post Office Department.
A Lippman private postcard

Originally, the picture and a space for a message appeared on the same side of the card, with the entire flip side used for the address. This changed in 1907 with the first card issued with a picture on one side, with sections for the message and address on the other. That is the design that is still used today.

As early as 1900,  businesses began using postcards to advertise products and services.

Do you still use postcards?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reduce collection boxes in front of Post Offices

We all know mail volume is down and probably will continue for years to come. So, do you think it's time to reduce the number of collection boxes we have in front of our Post Offices. We could reduce clutter like the picture below.

And just what are we doing with all those excess collection boxes? Can we make money off them? What kind of creative uses could people use them for?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This mummy can't go in the mail

A Bolivian woman was arresting as she tried to send a mummified body dating back to the Incan times through the mail.

The parcel, addressed to a French town,  was discovered during a routine check

So, that's pretty strange. But I bet you have seen stranger things than that.

Comment here and tell the world!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Going to Postal U

This clever display in the Hugo, MN, Post Office helps educate customers, schooling them as to postal options.

The display was conceived and constructed by Retail Associate Kerry Westman.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My favorite pumpkin

Here's my favorite pumpkin. Do you have one you would like to share? E-mail me here.

Thanks to Y2 for this great picture

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Ghost in the Post Office

For several years, custodian Ed Nelson looked after the labyrinth of stairs and hallways that make up the grand old 1930s-era San Pedro Post Office. In fact, he still frequents the place. Employees see him regularly. The awkward and disquieting fact is that he’s been dead for more than 27 years.

A lift to the hereafter? Ding Santiago, left, and Brian Bundy
 peer out from an elevator alcove at the San Pedro Post Office
The facility’s General Clerk and Historian Brian Bundy says that all of the office’s employees know about Mr. Nelson — or at least they know the legend, which goes that the former custodian died in the building or had a heart attack there and died later. (The truth, as it turns out, is even more melancholy, but more on that later.)

What many agree on, is that Mr. Nelson still seems to be coming to work. Or perhaps he’s made the Post Office his afterlife address.

Bundy himself has had some unusual encounters. On one occasion he felt a sharp tug on the keys at his belt. When he turned, there was no one there. But his keys were strewn across the floor, and the key ring, which he has kept for demonstration purposes, was bent open and misshapen. Another time Bundy was standing and looking down at some paperwork when, just above the tops of the pages, he saw shoes and pant legs. But when he lifted his gaze, the apparition vanished.

Maintenance employee Kathy Reyes has had an even more unsettling experience. She was on the phone in the basement maintenance shop when she looked over and saw a man in a blue uniform standing in the doorway. She acknowledged him and he nodded slightly in response. Then suddenly he was gone. “I was so scared,” she says, “it’s like I was frozen. I couldn’t move.”

Custodian Lance McCall tells a similar tale. Looking up into a stairwell, McCall saw a man in a uniform doubled over. But he only got a fleeting glimpse, because when he asked the man if he was OK, he disappeared. While closing up the Post Office, McCall has also heard doors opening and closing and seen lights that he’s turned off pop back on. “I’m a little shaky about being here by myself,” McCall confesses.

Distribution Clerk Ding Santiago feels the same way. Santiago has heard equipment rolling and footsteps when there was no one else in the building. “It makes the hair on my arms stand up,” he says. For that reason, Santiago never liked working Sundays by himself. “Sometimes I would bring my wife, just to keep me company,” he admits.

This is not to suggest that the haunting is malevolent, or even mischievous. Business Mail Acceptance Clerk Rosie Rivera will confirm that fact. She knew Ed Nelson.
“We both started as carriers back around 1977,” recalls Rivera. “He was in his 60’s back then, and when his eyesight started to fail he switched to the custodial craft.” She describes him as about 6 foot 2, slim, with thick glasses and clean shaven.

“He was a very, very nice man,” she explains. “He had never been married and he wasn’t close to his family, so I think he came to work here for the companionship. And he never missed a day — at least not until he passed away in 1983.”

In fact, it was a postal employee, Sandy Johansen, who found Nelson when she went to his home to find out why he had stopped coming to work. The biggest surprise of all came later, when attorneys contacted three San Pedro Post Office employees to reveal that Ed Nelson had left each of them substantial amounts of money. One of those people was Rosie Rivera.

“I was dumfounded!” says Rivera. “I was also very grateful. I was a single mother and the money really helped us.” Rivera remembers that one of the other beneficiaries was also a single mother, a letter carrier named April. The third recipient was another letter carrier and Nelson’s best friend, Henry. Rivera doesn’t remember their last names or exactly how much either of them received, but shortly afterward, April quit and Henry retired.

It turns out that Ed Nelson probably didn’t need his job at the Post Office at all. But it was where he wanted to be — then, and perhaps even now. “This was his family,” Rivera concludes.

Another employee who remembers Mr. Nelson is Long Beach Postmaster Ken Snavely, who began his career as a Part-Time Flexible carrier in San Pedro. “I would come in on Sundays to take out Special Delivery mail and the only other person there was Mr. Nelson. I’ll never forget the image of him mopping those long hallways downstairs.”

And, like Rivera, it makes sense to Snavely that Mr. Nelson might still be haunting those halls. “That Post Office had become his life,” says Snavely, “and if you believe in that sort of thing, well... maybe he just couldn’t let go.”

San Pedro Postmaster Teddie Rebollido won’t comment on whether she believes the ghost story or not. “I have enough trouble convincing my custodians to work in that basement,” she laughs. “But,” she adds with pride, “it is one of the things that makes this place so special.”

Story and photo credit, Ted Snyder

Do you have your own Postal ghost story? Click here to tell me about it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PMG writes to employees

PMG Jack Potter, who announced his retirement date, wrote a letter to employees to accompany his public decision. You can find the whole text here, but there are a few noteworthy excerpts.

He writes not about himself -- but about postal employees.

"The progress we made together, despite enormous obstacles, has been simply amazing. Service, customer satisfaction, efficiency, cost management and our reputation for trust have never been stronger," he said. "We’ve come through some trying times and I’ve always known — whatever the situation — that we’d stand together, work through it and emerge more focused than ever. And we have."

He thanks fellow employees.

"The most rewarding part has been the people — the thousands of people I’ve had the chance to meet and work with, inside and outside the Postal Service. I have always been proud to be a member of the postal family." he said.

"My pride, based on your commitment to our customers and to our nation, has only grown in the years I’ve served as Postmaster General. That will not change — no matter where the future takes me — and I will remain a strong advocate for the Postal Service."

What do you think about his letter? Comment here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Postmaster General sets retirement date

Benny here.

Well, the news is that my successor (actually, there's been 69 others in between), Postmaster General Jack Potter has chosen to retire, effective Dec. 3.

He started in 1978 as a clerk in New York City and rose through the ranks. He was one of us. In fact, he's a second-generation postal employee.

I've got to give him a salute. His ten years at the helm have been tough, to say the least. He dealt with 9/11-related security concerns, the anthrax threat, declining volumes, revenue declines, Congressional concerns, and public opinion swings.

Plus, he's had to the point man for employee groups, mailers and the media.

Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Operating Office Patrick Donahoe will replace him.

Got a comment about the retirement?  Leave it here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

After the storm

The storms that dumped up to 10 inches of rain across southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin had mostly passed by the morning of Friday, Sept. 24. But in many places, the full effects of the deluge were yet to come.

In St. Clair, MN, Postmaster Denise Gjerde noted that the nearby Le Sueur River was rising at a rapid pace. She called MPOO Mike Stevens and Pemberton OIC Natalie Schmidt to give them the news and begin planning for possible implementation of the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP).

Sandbagging had already begun at the city’s water treatment plant and several homes in the area. By early evening a small barricade was built around the Post Office. But the waters continued to rise and the effort kicked into high gear. A troop of more than 100 volunteers descended on the Post Office, Gjerde said. Other residents and area businesses provided food and other support to keep the volunteers going. By early the next morning a wall several feet high surrounded the building.

A pair of portable sump pumps rounded out the defense, leaving the Post Office on an island surrounded by floodwaters. Because there was no access, the COOP was implemented and operations were moved to Pemberton. Gjerde, her husband, Doug, and building owner Harry Fitzloff took turns around the clock, monitoring the water level and ensuring that the pumps remained working.

By late Sunday, water had receded substantially and St. Clair was up and running again Tuesday. Damage to the building was limited to minimal water seepage in the lobby area. “I feel so good about what we were able to do,” Gjerde said. “When we take our oath, we’re entrusted with this. It’s not my Post Office, it’s everyone’s Post Office.”

The people of St. Clair have proven that point.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Make a Difference Day

Tomorrow is "Make a Difference Day."

Postal people are well known for their generosity and giving spirit. What do you do to make a difference? If you're not doing anything now, do you plan to do something this next year?

Comment here.

John Lennon, stamp collector? Listen to Your Postal Podcast #29 for the answer

The new edition of Your Postal Podcast offers a revealing look at the early childhood of John Lennon, seen through his collection of postage stamps, now on exhibit at the National Postal Museum this month. One of the Smithsonian's conservators talk about young Lennon's stamp album and the clues it reveals about the man he was destined to become.

Also, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the October edition of Your Postal Podcast features the story of a Missouri postmaster who has a personal interest in being among the nation's top sellers of Breast Cancer Research Semipostal stamps.

To read a transcript of this edition of  this audio magazine for postal employees, please click here. While at Your Postal Podcast, you can catch up on previous shows.

All of the podcasts can also be downloaded free at the iTunes store or via any other RSS feeder.

Please click here to share your comments and ideas for future editions.  

Photos courtesy Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A royal Postmaster

When Houston, MN Postmaster Eileen Przytarski returned to work on Oct. 4, she may have looked a little tuckered. A week of fulfilling royal duties can wear you out.

Eileen and her husband, Ed, served as Frau and Festmaster of the 50th Annual Oktoberfest, La Crosse’s weeklong celebration of music, beer and all things German. They presided over dances, parades and community outreach events.

The honor caps a lifetime of community service. Ed has officiated high school and college wrestling for more than 35 years. He is also active in the La Crosse business community as director for Downtown Mainstreet Inc. and chairman of the city’s Redevelopment Authority. “It’s really my husband’s honor, I just get to tag along,” Eileen jokes modestly. The two have been involved with Oktoberfest for years and joined the fest’s Grenadier Corps in 1984.

Eileen was on hand for the full week’s schedule of events, and the work has just begun. For the next year the Przytarskis will represent Oktoberfest at other festivals throughout the region and as far away as Winnipeg.

They first learned of their selection back in April, but had to keep the secret until the Festmaster’s Ball on the eve of the festival. “But people start talking to one another, and they figure things out,” Eileen said.

She’s back in her office now, getting herself ready for what is going to be a very busy year. “It’s a great honor and a great opportunity for both of us,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, too.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is it or isn't it? Inside the USPS "motto"

It's a saying we sometimes embrace and sometimes dislike.

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

We've all heard the phrase, especially when the roads are closed and vehicles can't get through, or when downtown is flooded or high winds knock out the power.

Herodutus Picture via Wikimedia Commons
These words were first chiseled over the front of the New York City Main Post Office in 1914, and they stuck

The roots of the phrase actually go back to the writer Herodotus, who was singing the praises of the Persian war couriers in one of his books.

According to USPS Link, an architect from the firm that designed the New York Post Office was the son of a Greek classics scholar and an avid reader of the works.  He picked the inscription from one of the writings and pitched it to postal officials, who approved it.

What do you think? Should we embrace the motto, or dispel it? Comment here.