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I’m Over the Postal Service


When I was a kid, I was obsessed with having pen pals. I LOVED writing letters, getting letters in return, and checking the mailbox. (That is, until I turned 11 and discovered the wonder of pre-internet BBSes.) I remember being able to leave a five dollar bill in the mailbox, which the mailman would replace with a book of stamps so I could write to my pen pals. I also spent a lot of time writing to companies like Crayola and asking for free stuff.

Even as an adult, I’m kind of weird about the mail. I get extremely upset if anyone else checks the mailbox or looks through the mail before I get to it. (Just ask my ex-husband. I’m pretty sure that’s part of why we’re divorced now.) Despite the fact that I very rarely send or receive anything via USPS, there’s always some small part of me that hopes I’ll get something amazing. Don’t judge me!

The US Postal Service is constantly in the news lately. They’re going to run out of money. They’re shutting down more post offices. They might stop delivering mail on Saturdays. They’re raising postage rates. People are all upset at the thought of changes, but I think many of them are missing an important fact: The postal service sucks.

Why I Hate the Postal Service

I live on a highway a few miles from a rock quarry. All day long, rock trucks race up and down the road in front of my house doing whatever rock trucks do. My mailbox is across said highway, meaning I have to risk my life every time I go get the mail. It never fails – I run across the road, timing carefully so I don’t get smashed by a rock truck, only to find an empty mailbox. Or worse, I get a Walmart sale ad and nothing else. (WHY do they stuff all those random cards and crap inside the sale papers?) But that’s not the only reason I hate the postal service.

I hate the postal service because some (not all!) of its employees are lazy, sadistic jerks. A few examples:

  • My mailman when I first moved out of my parents’ house, who was fired for hoarding people’s magazines, reading them, and delivering them weeks or months after they were originally mailed.
  • A friend’s mailman, who got caught stealing greeting cards in hopes that they contained money.
  • The guy at the local post office who rolls his eyes every time I buy stamps, like he has SO MANY other things to do.
  • The mail truck that stops right in the middle of Main Street every day, blocking traffic, to deliver mail to the courthouse. There are 50 parking spots and the guy can’t pull into one?!?!

And then there’s my current mailman. He has one of the easiest jobs on the planet – he drives down the highway where I live and puts mail in mailboxes. He doesn’t even have to walk his route – he sticks his arm out the car window right from the road. Yes, he works Monday through Saturday, but he’s done with his route by lunchtime each day and he gets a bazillion holidays a year. You’d think it would be kind of hard to screw up a job like that. He really tries his hardest, though.

The Disgruntled Postal Worker Stereotype, Personified

This guy HATES when I get packages in the mail. He literally pulls into my driveway, tosses the packages in front of the garage, and honks the horn. Like I’m a trained circus animal who’s supposed to fetch the box on command. He also throws any actual mail I receive onto the ground beside the package so he doesn’t have to stop at the mailbox on his way out. You know, because that extra 40 seconds is really going to ruin his day!

One time I ordered something online and the box was almost exactly the size of the mailbox. My lovely mailman wedged it in there so tightly that I couldn’t get it out – I pulled so hard, the whole mailbox (post and all) came out of the ground and I busted my butt on the road. Maybe I’m dramatic, but I seriously could have DIED if a car had popped over the hill at that moment.

When it rains, my mailman likes to leave the mailbox door hanging open. I guess his hand might get wet if he takes the extra second or so to close it.

On the rare occasions that I mail something, my mailman leaves it out there (with the flag up) for days. He says he doesn’t have to get it unless I receive something in the mail – I’ve never verified that, but REALLY?? Is it that hard to slow down and grab an envelope? He probably wouldn’t even have to come to a complete stop.

Postal Service? Meh.

With all these awesome displays of Postal Power™, is it any wonder that I feel NO sympathy toward the USPS? I’d be thrilled if they routed all packages through UPS or FedEx, fired all the crappy employees, and kept the decent ones to scan and email non-junk to its recipients. Think how much money the government could save that way!

When I was in college, we had to read this dorky book about a super awesome mailman named Fred (The Fred Factor if you’re interested). He was so helpful and friendly, and the people on his route baked him cookies because he was just an amazing mailman. Well, my question is, where are all the Freds now? Maybe if we could answer that, we could find a way to fix what’s wrong with the postal service.

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. Those are some crazy stories! I actually have the opposite situation going on with Canada Post, I have a GREAT mail lady. I'm also in a rural area and work 9-5, so every time I get a package that is too big for the mailbox, instead of leaving it out in the open, she calls me at work and asks me what I want her to do with it. If my fiancée is home, I tell her to deliver it at home, if he isn't, she leaves it at the post office and I pick it up on the way home.

    The only bad experience I've had in my new place with delivering stuff is: Fedex left my engagement ring package hanging off the mailbox, it would have been so easy for it to blow into the ditch, or for someone to have stolen it! Luckily no one did.

    • Wow! I can't imagine my mailman calling me, except maybe calling me names when I don't rush outside to get my packages! It's amazing that your mail lady is so considerate.

    • i wish i had a great postman, unfortunately i live in chicago, illinois. Needless to say the employees of the usps around here are some of the most incompetent i have ever seen. what stinks even worse is in my youth i applied for a job with the usps. Now i am a very hard worker and pride myself on taking my job seriously and giving a 110% but i wasnt even called back. imagine if the usps only hired hard workers.

  2. Well, postal mail service sucks in just about any part of the planet. Few exceptions here and there like Jordann mentioned! I recall similar mail theft incidents too!

  3. I HATE the USPS. On multiple occasions I've had checks stolen out of my mailbox, equaling more than $300. When I tried to talk to them about it, they said "it came this way". Yeah, right. My sister sent a half opened envelope with a check in it to me like that.

    I've also had tons of boxes arrive broken, smashed and thrown at my door – just like he does with you. It's SO rude! How could people do that…you're not a dog that comes when people call. Sheesh… Now, I avoid mailing things via USPS at all costs. UPS and FedEx are my new best friends.

    • I love how nothing is ever their fault. Oh, your fragile package got broken? Must have been someone else! Your mail is in the ditch because I missed the mailbox? The wind did it! I've actually started looking to make sure a company offers FedEx or UPS before I order things online – I don't want to deal with USPS any more than I have to!

  4. I've had problems with my postal worker to. The difference between mine and a normal one is that he's only contracted out. So he's ALLOWED to be lazy, or so they told me anyways. Please don't get on him becuase of holidays. He's a federal worker and has to take them off. It's not his choice. Senators and congressmen and women get off all these and a ton more. Just remember when all this talk about federal employee's are making the country go broke that a senator gets the pay and benefits of 4 federal workers. Now that being said My postal worker will honk 50 times to try to make me come out to get a small package, always when i'm putting my youngest to sleep for a nap.

  5. It really sounds like you're being a little bit petty and entitled. What do you expect the mailman to be, your personal butler? And if you really think an employee rolls eyes at you when you order stamps, maybe you'd better check to see if your perception is the variable here. Or maybe you had an odd attitude when asking for stamps because really, how could a polite order for stamps cause eye-rolling?

    • I expect the mailman to put packages on my porch like he's supposed to. If that's petty and entitled, then I guess I am. As for the guy at the post office, I'm not sure how I have an attitude when I walk up to the counter and say, “I'd like a book of stamps, please.” You've apparently never encountered rude people, though maybe it's because YOU are the rude person. Why come here and bite my head off? If you don't like what you're reading, feel free to go bitch at someone else.

      • Well, I disagreed with your premise that "the postal service sucks." I made a few points to back up my disagreement. I didn't realize that you don't want posts if they don't agree with what you have said. I'll keep that in mind, and I'll make sure not to post here again, now that I know it's interpreted as "biting a head off."

        By the way, your logic of "You've apparently never encountered rude people, though maybe it's because YOU are the rude person," does not make sense, but I'm sure if you think about it, you'll realize that. A rude person would be just as likely, if not more likely, to encounter other rude people as a polite person would. It just wouldn't make sense that a rude person would be less likely. But never mind, I realize you weren't intending to make a salient point but rather to throw out an implication. That's too bad that the postal service people are unpleasant and marginally-competent where you live – it may, indeed, by a regional or local thing.

        • The thing is, you're welcome to disagree. But when you call me names, any points you try to make are lost because I just see a rude person trying to start a fight on the internet. Surely you've heard of the Golden Rule, or “Criticize the idea, not the person.” I didn't attack you in my post, so I don't know why you would attack me in the comments. I don't think you understand my sense of humor and I would be thrilled if you decided to read other blogs where you're able to contribute to the discussion without name calling.

          • I must have been incredibly rude to cause such great personal offense. Please allow me to leave with a sincere apology.

      • Andrea, I hear ya hon! We live in a rural area and I have had the postal worker honk at me numerous times! And the guy who works at the post office is a dick. Don’t worry about 444. She likes to whine with Mysti at digging out from our mess. She pets and coddles her and the woman is a huge baby. Obviously, she doesn’t need to be lurking in an intelligent blog. 🙂

  6. Christi Frederick says:

    I purchased a locking mailbox for just that reason. Paid more than I wanted to for the thing, but I have peace of mind now. However, it doesn't stop the mailman from putting everyone else's mail in there. I have to chase down my neighbors and get their mail to them. Makes me wonder how many letters of mine are ending up in their boxes!!!

  7. Wow, those are awful experiences. We've had luck with our post offices, (one of them is the FIL of a co-worker), and they're all pretty neat people. We have had limited bad experiences with them. That said, I dislike unions and this is a prime example why. They can't fire lousy people without much commotion from the union, and that just keeps this lousy cycle going. I'd suggest taking it up with the post master, just out of spite. Sometimes, they may even be waiting for enough complains so they can fire lousy employees. Last, I know it costs money, but have you thought about getting a PO Box?

    • I've considered it, more for business than for personal use. I've actually tried to call the post office to complain but it goes straight to a recording now. I'm glad to hear that there are still some good postal workers out there, though!

  8. I live in an apartment and they have general mail pick up areas with little boxes for each person. My mailman hates me because I check that little box like twice a month. It’s always crammed full of junk.

    My favorite usps story of all time is from the time I went to DC as a kid with my mom. It was right after all those postal shootings. A group of usps workers were in line to tour the white house and invited us to join them so we wouldn’t have to wait so long. The adults were all chatting and my adorable 7yo self chimes in and asks the postal worker if he was disgruntled. I’m pretty sure my mother wanted to kill me at that point. They were at least nice enough to let us go on the your with them still.

  9. Guess I'm one of the lucky few. Have never had a problem. Well ok we did have one for awhile that would cut through the bushes an across our lawn to save walking an extra 20-30 ft (he really pissed me off). But other than that they have been great. And with all the out going amazon packages I put on him too.

  10. Just so you know you can complain to your local postmaster general. I'm sure there's a rule against throwing mail on the ground as opposed to placing it in the mailbox or hand delivering it to someone. I would escalate if you're not getting a response. Seriously.

    Have you considered getting a UPS Store/Mailboxes Etc. box? It has an edge over the post office because not only will they accept postal mail, they'll accept and hold UPS/DHL/FedEx packages as well. All that aggravation the mailman is causing you, might as well outsource your mail.

  11. If their job description says to bring boxes to the porch, then boxes should be brought to the porch. It's fairly simple as I see it.

    Ducking and covering here – it's typical of government employees. When there is no real threat of losing a job, it becomes easy to cut corners without feeling any consequences. This kind of thinking is always ingrained in the organizations where enough people are never let go.

    FWIW, I haven't had half the problems with USPS that others do. Seems to be a hit or miss thing, I guess.

  12. thisaggiesaves says:

    I hate it when the mail person honks their horn for 10 seconds when I get a package. Just leave it already!

    • Exactly! And while I like FedEx, I hate that they ring the doorbell multiple times. I never ever go to the door for a package, usually because I'm in my pajamas and look like a hobo.

  13. bogofdebt says:

    Oh man. My mailbox is attached to my house and my mailman has said the same thing. He doesn't have to get mail unless he is delivereing it. At first we thought it was because he couldn't see it but oh no. I've seen him look up at the mailbox, see the netflix envelopes or whatever else I'm trying to send, look in his hand, see he has no mail to deliver to us, and walk right on by. So annoying. And my mailman will knock on the door until I come to it if I have a package. I'm sorry, if I"m home during the day, it typically means I'm sick and don't want to be out of bed. If it doesn't require a signature, please leave it on the porch. Or leave me a nice little card–I don't care because it's my choice.

  14. seedebtrun says:

    Oh my gosh…our mail person is TERRIBLE!!!!! She's always mixing up our mail and I can't even count how many times a neighbor has come to our house to ask if we'd received an important letter they were waiting for. She messes up so often it's laughable. I think she might be high…all the time. How else can you get this wrong so frequently?? And I'm pretty sure they get paid pretty well and they have tons of holidays, like you said.

  15. LOL. Post office employees do get paid too much for a job that isn't all that hard. Some of them do have to work Saturdays though which really sucks!

    I would say there are QUITE A FEW jobs that come with too high of benefits and not enough real work when we look at government employees. It's unbelievable some of their pensions and benefits. It's not just a USPS problem…it spreads throughout the entire government.

  16. Wow…you've had really bad luck with postal workers. I've never had one as good as Fred, but all the ones I've had did a satisfactory job.

  17. Oh, I hate them too! Many stories of our mail lady, but how about this one…We live on a private road and our mailbox is in a big locked box with about 12 boxes. Apparently the lock broke that the mail lady uses to open the whole unit so she can insert our mail into each box. She just stopped delivering the mail and didn't bother to tape a notice or something on the box so everyone would know what is going on. We get some sort of mail EVERY day. After 3 days of no mail, I was wondering what the heck? So I went to the post office to ask. Gave them our address and was told "well, I guess you just haven't been getting any mail to deliver". I said we always get something, but they were adamant it wasn't anything to do with them. 3 more days go by an no mail, so I go back again. They tried to give me the same story. I then asked for the manager to explain we had gone 6 days with no mail. She starts to tell me, "I guess you just haven't had any mail" and I blew up. EVERY Tuesday are the grocery store ads, where are those?? Finally they went and did some more checking in the back, come back 10 minutes later (I'm holding up the whole line) with all my mail – they were holding everyone in our box's mail because the lock was broken. I asked them why they couldn't put a note on the box explaining their lock was broken. Their reply was "that's not our job"! Then I had to pester them for how long it would be before they fixed it. And they wonder why they are going broke! I went back and put a note on the box so all my neighbors would know to pick up their mail at the post office.

  18. @FrugalBeautiful says:

    I have to say, the posts are good but the comment banter is truly worth noting. LoL.

  19. Wow. That's just nuts. Our guy is great and our former woman was awesome too. She called us on the intercom once because she thought a package was "fragile" to see if we were home so she could hand it to us in case something would happen to it in the lobby. That was pretty cool. We have a doorman now, so they handle the packages for us but our mailman is on top of everything.

  20. I grew up in North Dakota, our USPS throughout the state was efficient and dependable. . . since moving to North Carolina I have noticed a huge change . . . I can't trust the USPS! We had some serious issues last year when I first moved here – things weren't being delivered, they were delivering them to the wrong place, crap was lost, etc. It was really upsetting because some of the things that never arrived here were wedding presents that people took the time to look for and send to us.

    I will say, we do have a new USPS lady and she seems to be much better than the previous one but I still send ALL of packages thru UPS or FedEx.

  21. LOL! When I read about your "Disgruntled Postal Worker", I imeadiately thought of "Funny Farm", good times! I get a lot of credit card offers and other mail with prepaid postage envelopes in them. I like to have fun with them to make them stop. I always take some sales adds (the useless ones that are stuffed in the other ones like you mentioned above) and stuff them in the pre-paid return envelope and send it back to them. I stuff that envelope full too, and chuckle as I drop it in the mail. Just something I do to put a laugh in my day as I am sure the worker that opens it gets a smile which makes it worth it. I usually write a joke with a black marker on the sales ads to make sure they get a kick out of it.

  22. Coming to you from the great white north, I just want to go on record to say that I hate UPS, and will go completely out of my way to avoid buying anything from ANYBODY if they're going to ship it to me via UPS. I hate them so much. They're a pain, they're always late, they always require a signature and won't just leave it on a doorstep AND they won't deliver to the nearest post-office, but to their main branch, which is an hour away. I HATE UPS.

    OK, end rant.

  23. DontDebt says:

    In the area I live, I wouldn't put something in the mailbox and expect it to still be there for the postal worker. I'd assume someone would take it – just not a trusting person I guess. Oh, and the fact that hubby had his mailbox bricked so that no one could knock it down – country kids think of some stupid stuff to do. But the mailbox being in the brick, there is no flag that sticks out, so we have to mail it from the post office. That's fine because we pass by there on our way out of town anyway.

  24. Teinegurl says:

    Wow! i've never had any bad experinces with USPS i actually like it! but i live in Apt. complex and if we have packages they can either be left in a box with a key attached or brought to my doorstep. My lady is always on time, and very nice. Every time i go to the post office the lines are long but move fast. i would suggest buying stamps at Walmart or 7-11. it's the same price & they don't charge tax for it & and you can do it while doing other errands so you don't have to go the post office.

  25. My mail lady is awesome! She always leaves our mail in the preferred spot, so i can tell when she's on vacation (the mail ends up crammed into the tiny front door slot, gets stuck in the doorway, and never gets checked until I use our front door — which is never, btw). Too bad your mail guy is such a tool!

  26. Andrea, I'm just shocked at the level of "service" you get from your postman. I'm so sorry you have to endure that.
    I've always had good to excellent service here in Arkansas. I have been buying stamps at the grocery store instead of the post office that's just down the street from me because I hate standing in long lines to do it. I knew the Postal Service was in trouble when they stopped repairing the stamp vending machines several years ago.

  27. I agree: You should keep a record and complain about this in writing to your regional postmaster. Emphasize that you expect a response and if you do not receive one within a reasonable time you will be forced to take the matter up the chain of command. Then do it.
    That said, let me share my own anecdote. Recently I put a postcard into the box across the street from my apartment building. Unfortunately I used a 29-cent stamp, forgetting that the rate had gone up. The mail carrier recognized my handwriting and put it back into my mailbox with a little note: "This needs 3 cents more." He could have just let it go to the dead letter office, since there was no return address (it being a postcard).
    While I agree that the USPS often does fall down on the job, think about this for a minute: For 32 cents, someone hand-delivered that postcard to my friend who lives a couple of thousand miles away. Just sayin'.
    Private carriers have their tics as well. Anyone see that viral video of the Fed Ex guy throwing the computer package over a fence?

  28. Our service gets worse every year. It doesn't help that they seem to have two-three people split up the route that delivers to us, so mail can come in very randomly. I barely use USPS anymore but like having the option when necessary…no other shipping company has impressed me either. And our FEDEX guy around here is worse than your current USPS guy…he will leave a note saying we weren't there without ever knocking or ringing the bell…we will literally wait for him outside when a package is important just so he won't mess us over…

  29. I love getting mail. Bills, bank statements, anything really once it has my name on it. I also love to see my local postman. I always hope he has something for me. I believe this stemmed from me growing up and watching my parents get bills and whats not all the time and nothing came for me. Now it's my time to enjoy getting mail and it is slowly approaching the way of the dinosaur because of technology. I always look forward to my cell bill every month, even though I check it and pay it online. I just love love love mail. I can see your reason for being upset though, I don't think our postal service is that bad. Who knows…

  30. jhspoljunkie says:

    There is so much more to the postal service story than meets the eye. The financial woes you hear about in the news are because of a pre funding mandate. They are required to pre fund their retirement pension at such a high rate, they have paid for employees that won't even be born for about 75 more years. Its true! Most postal workers try very hard to be pleasant and deliver their routes in a timely manner, but some places are so understaffed, it is almost impossible. As for ups and fedex, there are still parts of the u.s. they won't deliver to, so they contract with the postal service to finish the rest of the delivery. And really, just ask either ups or fedex to deliver a letter across country for less than fifty cents!

  31. mr pickle says:

    Lazy???? Most carriers walk 5-7 miles a day. And in crazy weather conditions with a ton of mail. I’m curious what u do for a living.. I wouldn’t call them lazy. I definitely wouldn’t want that job

    • I live on a highway in a rural area – my mailman doesn’t walk at all. He drives his entire route. I’m guessing you live in one of those areas where people have a mailbox or mail slot on their front porch? Unfortunately that doesn’t exist around here.

  32. Mail Lady you wish you had! says:

    I’m a career postal employee.I run a 50 mile rural route. We spend hours a day standing,lifting,bending & driving too. I jump in & out of my truck every day all the time even though its not a walking route. Its been running 115 degrees in the front of the truck. I keep my cooler & lots of water. I go down dirt roads so by the end of the day I’m sporting a nice dirt tan. I feel blessed to have a good job but its not as easy as you think.It’s physical labor & until you do it yourself it is going to appear to be just flipping little letters in boxes. The reason for all those junk envelopes & ads is our customers like to advertise & they can even target certain neighborhoods for pennies on a dollar through E.D.D.M. It’s good to use a stamp,mail a letter…save a mail man or woman. You know that the U.S.P.S hiring system gives veterans preference to those looking to gain employment. The majority of my office i work in are men & women who have served our country to protect the freedom we enjoy today. I have worked with honorable men who have been combat wounded in vietnam & Iraq to name a couple.Veterans I was informed at a Vet’s funeral service that veterans make up an astounding 1% of the U.S population. Something to think about. We have seen so many new hires come in & quit within a day or two because it’s too stressful to them. The job is not for everyone.
    You would like to live on my route because I go the extra mile & so do my co workers. If its raining i’m putting your package at your
    back door under your carport etc.You can
    text me if youre home early from vacation so
    i can resume your mail delivery. I know how
    to report a crime so if I see your big screen
    leaving your side window no worries be glad I’m stopping at your box. I will call the police too when I just found a missing child. I’m protecting your mail from the rain & doing the best job I can for my customers & my safety as well. Andrea, I had some of those customers
    kinda like you that had to cross a busy hi

    ighway to check their mail & when I acquired the route I went to management about it being a safety issue for my customers & we had them move all their mail boxes & I just adjusted my line of travel. So I’m sorry you don’t have me for your carrier. We would work on that. I can’t imagine Mack trucks tearing down the road I’m attempting to cross to check an empty box either! If you still like goodies in the mail you can sign up on Pinch me for free samples. You can always start writing those hand written sentiments again by adopting a soldier.
    God Bless the USA & postal workers!!!!

  33. Wow I’m a rural carrier and I love my job it’s a lot more than sticking your arm out the window …….it’s about the look on the face of the elderly getting a card or a child getting a package and talking to my customers that makes my job great…..we’re all not in the same category I work with the most amazing people and we’re not lazy….

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