Friday, January 29, 2010

Please restrain your bear

Dogs are a safety concern for postal carriers on nearly every route in America. And, when a canine problem persists, delivery can be curtailed to a home or a neighborhood.

But leave it to an Alaska rural carrier to contend with bears on his delivery route.

Paul Tomaro works out of Juneau’s Mendenhall Station. He has spent most of his 26-year postal career on the same route. Although he sees bears often, Tomaro doesn’t pay much attention to them. They leave him alone and he reciprocates.

But he recalls one occasion when he was falsely accused for a bear’s mischievous ways. “As I drove up to the customer’s mailbox, I saw a 300-pound black bear banging on the customer’s garbage can,” he said. “The contents were all over the ground.”

The bear saw Tomaro and ran away. The customer heard the commotion and saw Tomaro’s vehicle suspiciously close to the mess. “She saw the garbage on the ground and accused me of hitting the can with my vehicle,” he said.

Tomaro explained the situation and suggested the bear was still nearby. The customer made a hasty retreat indoors.

Dealing with the weather can be a “bear,” too. Tomaro has two Jeep Cherokees he uses on his 23-mile daily route. The four-wheel drive vehicles serve him well during Alaska’s frigid winters. Three years ago, he contended with 500 inches of snow over the winter. “The roads are usually cleared of snow, but I have to drive on the shoulder to make my deliveries and that’s where the snow piles up,” he said.

At least Tomaro doesn’t have to cope with the bears during the winter. They’re smart enough to stay undercover in hibernation until the temperatures increase.
Got a comment about this story? Do you have your own animal story to share? Click here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Facing the cold days. Caption Contest!

Can you think of a good caption for this photo?
Suggest it here.

Photo courtesy of Dave Pope

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Read, respond and recycle

Benny here. In my day, recycling wasn't really a big deal. We had a big country and lots of resources. But today, with increased population and environmental concerns, we all have to think about our impact on the world around us.

And that goes for the mail too. It's a touchy subject. Because mail is necessary for commerce, for our jobs and for a big chunk of the economy. It's also printed on paper that when it is read, is traditionally discarded.

We want to make recycling of mail convenient for customers, but we also need to be sensitive to our mailers that pay the postage. We want to encourage people to read their mail.

So we've come up with a good alternative: "‘Read, Respond, and Recycle."

In thousands of postal lobbies, Post Office box customers across the country can recycle their mail with convenient recycling bins that encourage customers to open their mail, respond to it and then responsibly dispose of it.

A complete list of participating post offices can be found at, using the word “mail” in the search engine. The list is sorted by ZIP Code.

More information on green initiatives and consumer products can be found at

If you already have one of these recycling bins, how are they working? What do your customers think? Comment here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

USPS and sustainability

The Postal Service issued it's first Sustainability Report, describing what impact we are having on the world around us. The report, entitled "Delivering a Greener Tomorrow," outlines three sustainability goals: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste to landfills and engaging USPS employees in sustainability programs and processes

A few highlights are:

  • A 9% decrease in overall energy consumption between 2005 and 2008 and decreasing facility energy use 18% over the same time period.
  • Recycled 232,000 tons of plastic and paper in 2008
  • Diverted 20,000 tons of paper waste from landfills through 4,000 Post Office recycling bins is office lobbies.
  • Reduced energy intensity by 17% since 2003 and increased alternative fuel use by 61% since 2005
  • Investing $150 million annually in facilities upgrades
  • Purchased more than $200 million in recycled products
What do you think about our green efforts? Enough? Need more? Comment here

Friday, January 22, 2010

Open up and say....


Thanks for the photo, Anita Miller, Grand County, CO

Coats for kids

The Twin Cities PCC and Twin Cities Post Offices launched Coats for Kids to benefit the Salvation Army. To date, more than 150 coats and assorted hats, gloves, boots and other winter clothes have been donated.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Look who's back!

The temperatures outside may have been frightful, but that couldn’t keep more than 50 delightful postal retirees from making their appointed rounds at the 3rd Annual Retirees’ Breakfast at the Topeka, KS, Main Post Office last month.

Current and retired employees relished the opportunity to renew old acquaintances and develop new friendships. The Breakfast is paid for each year by the local social and recreation committee, and donations from current employees.

“It’s a great way of keeping in touch with our retirees,” said Topeka Postmaster B. Steven Pinkerton. “They are a vital link to our past and represent a wealth of knowledge and experience that the Postal Service can draw from as it moves forward.”

"I left this building in December of 1976, and it is good to return and see how it has changed,” said Retiree Bill Miller. “It is still the Post Office, but the operation is a lot different.”

“Thanks for having us again!” said Retiree Jimmy Hinton. “It is good to have a chance to visit with everyone and walk the floor once again."

Once you retire, will you stay in touch with your coworkers? Tell my why...or why not, by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Going postal." What do you think about the expression?

"Going postal" has been a part of the American slang vernacular for a number of years. It cropped up after several incidents of postal workplace violence incidents that occurred in the late 80s and early 90s.

Though the Califano Report called the term a myth which gave the Postal Service "a bad rap," the term persisted as a general reference to violence in or outside any workplace. It has been thrown about in a number of cultural references, including movies, books, video games and music.

For many postal employees, the term is the ultimate insult.

But, these days, I’m also seeing the words crop up in other, non-demeaning uses. A chain of mailing centers calls themselves, "Goin' Postal." When we sponsored the U.S. Postal Service bicycle team with Lance Armstrong on the pedals, media and postal communicators used the term as a source of pride.

Some employees are intent on "taking the phrase back," turning it into something positive. "Going Postal" to these people means that the customer has made a choice to use USPS.

The Fredricksburg Star ran an op-ed called, "Going Postal, the right way, every day," that extolled the Postal Service and praised our operation.

So, what do you think about the term? Should USPS adopt it as its own? Fill out the poll on the upper-right corner and click here to leave a comment.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Your Postal Podcast #20, now online

Mother Teresa! iPhones! OPRAH!

Hear about all of them on the January 2010 edition of Your Postal Podcast, available now -- just click here:
Our stories this month includes a feature about how to use your iPhone to track packages, as well as a review of this year's new stamps. You'll also hear from a letter carrier recently featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show as a result of her heroic deed.

For a transcript of this, the 20th edition of the podcast produced by USPS Corporate Communications, please click here.

YPP #20, like all previous editions, can be downloaded free from the iTunes store or through any other RSS feeder. Or, simply listen directly from the website.

The Your Postal Podcast Team wants your feedback and story ideas. To reach them, please click here.

What do you think about the podcast? Comment here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What can postal employees do for Haiti?

PMG Jack Potter sent out a message to all employees, sharing our collective grief over the Haiti tragedy.

"As we begin a new year, I would ask you to keep all those who have lost loved ones, or who are still searching for their loved ones, in your prayers. Tragedies like this, which in the past would have taken weeks or months for us to learn about, demonstrate how small our world has become and how fragile we all are."

He also encourages employees to help.
"Many local and national charities are hard at work providing relief to the victims of this disaster. I would encourage you, if you see fit, to work with your local disaster relief groups to provide financial support so helpful to those people of the world in desperate need."

The  U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has recommended cash contributions as the most effective way to provide relief assistance. USAID provides a listing of nonprofit agencies working to provide assistance at

Too many holidays?

Benny here.  We have another holiday coming on Monday, in celebration of Martin Luther King's Birthday.

Federal News Radio has caused a little stir by asking about the number of federal holidays. They are asking whether it would be prudent for federal employees to give back a couple of holidays, to help balance the books.

One of their listeners suggested eliminating George Washington's Birthday or Columbus Day.

What do you think? Do we have enough holidays? Not enough? Just right? Which ones, if any, should we give back? And why don't we have a holiday for my birthday?  Leave a comment here. And you can also weigh in with the poll in the upper right-hand corner of this blog, found here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ohio letter carrier takes turn on "Who Wants to be a Millionare"

A Frazeysburg, OH, letter carrier is going prime time!

Andy Walcutt has been selected to appear on  "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."

He's been trying out for the show for years, but has never made it this far. The show was taped back in October.

Walcutt's appearance on the show will air at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Within the next 30 days, Walcutt should receive a lump sum check of his winnings from the show. Due to contractual obligation, he can't say how much he won, but he's grateful for the experience.

To comment, click here.

Good news! USPS Volume and revenue up for December

Don't you think it’s time to talk about some good news?

Lot’s of you wrote last month that lobbies, plants and mail satchels were full. And lots you were noticed Priority flat-rate boxes seemed to be a big hit, thanks to some smart advertising (Thanks Al!)

Well, the numbers are in and it’s all true.

Nationwide, Priority Mail revenue was up 12.7 percent for the month of December. Out of every ten packages sent, eight of them were sent Priority Mail. And our walk-in revenue was up 1.5 percent. Not bad in a sour economy.

Total First-Class Mail cancellations still topped 3.1 billion for the month, which was only down about three percent.

What do you think? Is this good news? Can we build on this for the future? Drop me a note here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Express package meets with fowl play, but employees flock to save contents


Rosie is one lucky bird, thanks to special care of Sioux Falls, SD, P&DC employees who took the chicken under their wing until she could wing her way to her final destination.

The prize-winning show bird had been sent as a gift from California to Mt. Carmel, TN. But the owner put a wrong ZIP Code on the label and the bird landed in Sioux Falls P&DF –– a thousand miles away from where it belonged.

And right behind her arrival an Arctic cold snap rolled in, which prevented any live animals from flying in the bays of airplanes.

There was no other choice but to keep the bird at the plant. The owner was called who consented to her care and gave special feeding and care instructions.

The employees at the plant cared for her during her stay. Rosie dined on various breakfast cereals, fruit and cat food. Using a lid from a small container, she even had a custom watering dish.

Using an air vent tab and tape, an employee gave Rosie had a secure perch where employees could keep an eye on her –– and she could have a bird’s eye view of what was happening.

“She was very social and comfortable,” said Mail Processing Clerk Alice Kadinger. “She didn’t seem to feel cooped up at all.”

The new owner, Shalla Miller, was thrilled with the extra care that went into her prize bird.

“She’s in the pen with her mate right now and she’s obviously very happy to have warmer temperatures,” said Miller. “She’s not interested in any more side trips to the Dakotas anytime soon.”

What do you think about this story? Comment here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Biggest mailing ever: U.S. Census Bureau sends 447 million pieces

The Postal Service has been tasked with processing and deliver census forms and other mailpieces to every household in the nation.

Through mid-April, the Census Bureau will send six separate mailings — a total of 447 million pieces. For the Postal Service, it means $200 million in revenue as well as an opportunity to provide a valuable community service.

“This is the single largest mailing ever in U.S. history,” said Tom Day, senior vice president, Intelligent Mail and Address Quality. “It will have an impact on the lives of millions of Americans. Every postal employee plays a role in making this very important mailing program successful.”

What do you think about this?  How will it work in your office, plant or route? Click here to comment.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Please Clear Your Box"

Carriers throughout the Midwest have been especially hit hard the last few weeks, with heavy snow, strong winds and frigid temperatures.

This box was photographed in Mansfield, MO, courtesy of RCA Alan Morris.

Do you have a photo from your route? Send it to Benny by clicking here.
Comment here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Not so funny: Some comic book strip fans want different stamps

The Sunday Funnies stamps to be released later this year will feature stamps that depict Beetle Bailey, Dennis the Menace, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Archie

But diehard fans are sad that their their favorite comic strip didnt make the cut. Supporters of Doonesbury, Far Side, Dilbert, and For Better or Worse wish they had a stamp for their comic strip, too.

In 1995, the Postal Service issued a  “Comic Strip Classics” collection in 1995 that hailed such old timers as Snoopy, Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy and Blondie.

What's your favorite comic strip character and why do you think it should get a stamp?

Click here and tell us what you think.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Forever stamps in coils?

The Forever Stamp has been a great idea. Billions of stamps later, the public likes the notion of buying stamps that work regardless of the current price.

And honestly, it's also much easier on us.  We're certainly making money on the fact that it costs us time and money to sell those pesky one- and two-cent stamps.

But there's currently no coiled option for the stamp, as they only come in sheets of 20.  So businesses are somewhat reluctant to buy in.

Do you think Forever Stamps should come in larger quantities?

Comment here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Twin Cities station manager wants to be Biggest Loser

Elmwood (St. Louis Park) Station Manager O’Neal Hampton, Jr. and his daughter, SunShine Hampton made their television debut last night on Season 9 of the popular NBC reality show The Biggest Loser: Couples.

O’Neal and SunShine are competing with 10 other overweight couples to achieve the greatest percentage of weight lost during the course of the show.

In their first physical challenge, the Hamptons competed to outpedal other teams, including identical twins who collectively weigh nearly 1,000 pounds. But the main focus of the show is not the contest itself, as competitors receive the help of physical trainers, nutritionists and other medical personnel to achieve their weight loss goals and build a new, healthier lifestyle.
What do you think? Comment here.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rural delivery, every other day

A reader wrote with this suggestion:

"We should establish an every other day delivery system for rural areas. Rural carriers would deliver half the rural delivery area three alternating days per week and the other half the other three days"

What do you think? Comment here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

What is rural?

A reader wrote me with this comment:

"We should Redefine what 'rural' delivery actually is. Today we have so many 'rural' routes that are smack in the middle of a major city/suburban area that there is nothing 'rural' about them. 'Rural' should meet the definition found in any dictionary."

So, what is rural delivery to you? Comment here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Printable Payroll Calendar



Happy New Year!  Here's a gift for all of my postal friends.  Attached is a nice-sized calendar that lets you have all the postal paydays and holidays in one handy place.

Just click here and print!

Now, don't be selfish. If you think this is a handy reference, "regift it." Forward this message or link to your favorite ten people.

And if you are one of the ten, would you consider subscribing to Your Postal Blog?

It's easy. Just click on the subscribe text on the right side of Your Postal Blog or simply click here, enter your e-mail address, and a verification e-mail will sent to you. Open it, click on the link, and and you'll get this sent to you automatically.

It's approved postal communication and you can always opt out later.

Now let's look at that calendar and plan a vacation!  I love Florida.