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CCA Confessions - Letter Carrier Revelations made Public
Father Pat Donahoe of Our Lady of Perpetual Privation, the world's largest postal parish, dons his stole and makes his way to the confessional, where every Saturday at three PM he is forced to perform the wearisome work of hearing the confessions of the most humble members of his postal flock. Father Pat does not believe in working on Saturdays, so this duty particularly rankles him. Yet somebody has to hear the confessions of the CCAs, the newest members of the fold and the most troubled. They are not exactly disgruntled, because thankfully they are too tried to be really disgruntled, but lately they have been showing up by the droves and they have an awful lot to talk about.
Father Donahoe sighs wearily as he views the confessional line, which circles around the back of the building and out into the street, where it disappears into a fuzzy blur several blocks down. While other priests fill out their weeks doing baptisms and weddings, where sometimes they get to imbibe something besides the same stale sacramental wine, Father Donahoe's time is spent juggling Congressional hearings, wrangling with the Unions, closing post offices and firing postal clerks so he can give their living wage jobs to minimum wage employees at Staples. It's already been a tough week, and from the looks of that line it isn't going to get any better.
Father Donahoe slumps into the chair behind the screen just as the first CCA meekly enters into the confessional booth. As he adjusts his stole Father Pat begins to hear snoring drift in through the small window, which makes him perk up immediately.
"Hey wake up over there!" Father Pat shouts as he raps his knuckles sharply against the confessional screen. "Tell me you sins and let's get this over with!"
"Oh, sorry Father," the penitent says groggily as he struggles his way back into consciousness. "It's just that I haven't had a day off in 39 days. You've got me working Monday through Saturday and now Sundays too. I'm worn out."
"Don't complain, be happy you've got a job!" Father Pat reproaches him sternly, "and a darn good paying one too! Just for that you get extra penance."
The tired CCA groans and then strains his ears to try to recognize the unfamiliar voice on the other side of the screen. "Hey wait a minute. Where's Father Rolando? I thought he was doing confession today."
By Father Rolando the CCA is referring to Fredric Rolando, who doubles as head of the National Association of Letter Carriers Union. In Father Pat's view Father Rolando is a completely rogue priest, and the two often lock horns theologically. For instance, whereas Father Donahoe routinely preaches in his sermons that the world was made in five days and then rested, or shut down completely on the sixth, Father Rolando clings to the old fashioned doctrine that the world was made in six days and then rested on the seventh. This has been a nasty point of contention between the two priests, and Father Pat's ire raises as he hears his rival's name being voiced here, in the privacy of his own confessional.
"Why do you need Father Rolando?" Father Pat barks harshly through the screen.
The CCA hesitates a moment, sensing the building wrath in Father Pat's voice, and then slowly begins to speak. "Well, it's just that, no offense Father but Father Rolando's penance is a lot easier. In fact, he doesn't give any penance whatsoever, but tells me I haven't sinned but have been sinned against. I won't say by who. He sends me home to take a nap."
"Hmmph!" roars the Father. "Well that figures. I don't know where he is, I think I saw him waving a Six-day delivery sign in front of some post office as I was driving in. But just for that your penance is six extra Sundays delivering Amazon packages. Now come on, tell me your sins. I haven't got all day."
So as this first humble CCA digs up his list of woes from the tired recesses of his postal memory, prepared to be floored, folks! Here for the first time the sanctity and privacy of the postal confessional has been violated and you are going to be exposed to the cruel reality of life as a CCA letter carrier in the United States Postal Service. The red light in the booth is on, the priest is in, and what you are about to read is a sampling of true life postal confessions, as paraphrased from the comments sections of my other CCA related hubs.
The afternoon in the confessional booth drags by drearily for Father Donahoe. It is as if he is stuck on some twisted Einsteinian spaceship and there is some sort of warped relativistic time effect going on here in the confessional. Every blessed CCA story is the same - an endless litany of pain, woe, and exhaustion. Worst of all, his butt is starting to grown tired in the chair. The Father squirms uncomfortably, then secretly scratches himself in a place that holy men usually don't get scratched. At that point another CCA walks in.
"Tell me your sins," Father Donahoe drones.
"My name is Crazed Carrier," the CCA responds as he kneels down.
"I didn't ask you name," says the Father. He's heard every name in the international baby registry today and doesn't really care. "Just tell me your sins."
"Yes, Father," begins CCA Crazed Carrier, and the tone of his voice matches his moniker. The young man sounds positively unhinged. "Father, I'm guilty of the sin of sucking up."
Father Donahoe's eyebrows raise a bit. Here's one he hasn't heard before. He had no idea there was a sin called "Sucking up." He never read about that one in Dante's instructional manual on sinning. Although the Father is surprised, he makes no reply because he doesn't want to encourage this young man to talk anymore than is necessary.
"I've been a CCA for only a few months, Father, and I've seen such madness," Crazed Carrier begins. "I thought if I went in with a good, positive attitude I could really make a difference, but all of my efforts haven't had any effect at all. It's just that I don't think I'm dealing with normal human beings in the post office. The character of the staff at my station runs the spectrum from profoundly kind to possible undiagnosed sociopathy."
Crazed Carrier sighs and continues. "I did my best to cope with my bosses and co-workers. I never call my supervisors on the phone no matter what the emergency is. I've done so much thinking on my feet that stubbing my toe might cause me brain damage."
"I've showered my co-workers with all kinds of treats and dishes. I try to impress my supervisor every day by going above and beyond the call of duty. And what do I get for it? I get piled onto. I feel like an NFL running back at the bottom of a dog pile of 340 pound defensive linemen. The more mail I take, the more mail they give me. I gave up lunch a long time ago. My supervisors send me out to help all the useless old farts in my station every day. I don't know what to do, Father. My body is completely thrashed."
Father Donahoe rubs his hands together gleefully. This one if definitely crazy, all right, positively insane for thinking that his supervisor would actually reward him for his hard work or that his co-workers, being the animals in the zoo that they are, would truly appreciate the food he brought for them. What a deluded suck-up indeed. Definitely management material.
But Father Donahoe knows better than to compliment the young man. Why start a trend that will be problematic to continue? "Well, your sin is not as bad as it sounds," he says, "but sin is still sin. Your penance is a hundred Hail Marys and to bring me a dozen donuts. Next."
Josey Mailman Wales
"I'm guilty of the sin of self-delusion, Father," CCA Josey Mailman Wales confesses as he unstraps his gun belt and leaves his six shooters on the floor by the door of the confessional. "I deluded myself into thinking that I could actually make a career out of this job, and it just ain't happening."
Father Donahoe's eyes sparkle merrily, but only for a moment before he goes back to being pissed off again. The Padre knows that self-delusion can be put to good use if harnessed properly. He personally has promised promotion to thousands of 204b management candidates over the course of his career, then watched them squirm anxiously and work 15 hour days in the vain, self-deluded hope that this event would really occur.
"I used to be a THE (Transitional Employee), Father," Josey Wales continues, "and was willing to take a pay cut from $22 to $16 an hour because I bought into the promise that this would put me on the path to a career position."
"In spite of my high hopes, the USPS has turned out to be by far the most corrupt, mismanaged and incompetent place I have ever made the mistake of working for. I have been on the streets carrying mail at 9:30 PM. It's always crisis management."
"It was stupid of me to believe the lies, Father. If stupidity is a sin then there, I guess I'll have to confess another one. Our office had roughly 8 full time positions that were available for the CCAs to be placed in and converted to career status. Only two CCAs were converted. All of the other slots are filled and it's at least another 3-4 years before the next retirement. That leaves me with the prospect of being a non-career employee for 9 years before having the opportunity to be converted."
"I believe this is absolutely shameful on the part of the USPS. I will simply not do this for another 3 to 4 years. No Way! Way too much stress, no family time, cutting hours, incredibly incompetent managers that you have to work for and the plain ole simple stupidity of the USPS. It is a BLACK CLOUD!"
"The managers are the worst trained people I have ever seen. A CCA will be sold out for anything to make sure managers rear-ends are covered when they make one of their never-ending mistakes."
Father Pat's postal rosary beads make a distracting clacking sound as he runs through his personal litany of postal saints: Tom Davis III, George Bush, Darrell Issa...then he realizes that CCA Josey Wales has finished speaking and is expecting some sort of response from behind the screen.
"What can I say son?" the Father speaks, doing his best to try and sound soothing, when secretly on the inside he can barely hold back the laughter. "You've been lied to. That in and of itself is not so bad, in fact it's a necessary part of doing postal business. You'll understand someday."
The Father strokes his chin thoughtfully. He just can't let this young man off the hook, can he? That would set a bad example for the rest of the CCAs flowing out the door. "Okay, for penance I want you to say the act of Postal Contrition 50 times, and tomorrow I'm giving you 50 CODs to collect on, for which I'm going to make sure all of the customers are home, they don't have the correct amount to pay on them and not a single one will speak English. And oh yeah, I want you to do it all in 8 hours. Next."
CCA Mike begins his confession as Father Pat stifles back a yawn. He's heard every CCA sob story in the book now, and there's nothing CCA Mike can say that will particularly stir his soul.
"Forgive me Father for I have sinned." Mike begins, his voice heavy with contrition.
"Yadda Yadda Yadda," answers Father Pat. "Let's get this over with. What's your sin?"
"I'm afraid I'm showing signs of weakness, Father," confesses CCA Mike. "I felt for a while last week like I just couldn't get the job done. Yesterday I had to carry an entire route then 45 minutes on another route. I also had to deliver express mail in the morning and do a 300 piece pickup, all of this in the snow. I really had to push it to be back by 5:30 for fear that I would be fired for "performance issues" like that girl last week."
"I'm falling into real despair, Father. All of the extra things I had to do were because the regulars that were supposed to do them said that delivering in the dark and the snow is an unsafe practice. I don't understand why there are two different sets of standards for two different groups of people. The regulars get paid more, so why is it they get away with doing less? It doesn't seem fair."
"One other minor detail, Father," continues CCA Mike, "is that I have been battling cancer for the past year. I've got stage 4 metastatic melanoma. Thank goodness I've got a night job that has health benefits, unlike the post office, or I'd really be up against it. Anyhow, Monday through Friday I have to go to radiation therapy at 5:15 PM. My postal supervisor says I should have no problem getting there, even though on paper its practically mathematically impossible with all of the extra duties they pile onto me. But I do it by running and skipping lunch, even though my doctors tell me this is not advisable while on chemo and radiation therapy."
"When the cancer was discovered I had surgery on my spine that took me out for a little while but what choice did I have but to rush back to work? The post office doesn't give me any sick time or disability benefits, and I have a daughter to support, Father. When I was out with the surgery I accumulated some credit card debt, and was unable to put oil in my home for two weeks this winter. My daughter got a nasty cold because of it."
Having exhausted his laundry list of worries and woes, CCA Mike shifts a little bit on his bent knees and waits for Father Pat to deliver some kind of words of wisdom that might at least put his soul at ease, even though his broken down body is way beyond help.
"You've got to suck it up, buttercup," Father Pat declares as he makes the sign of the cross through the screen. "Now say your act of contrition, and as penance I give you 100 Our Fathers and 100 extra parcels with a broken scanner which means you have to enter all the numbers manually. Next."
Father Pat looks at his watch. CCA confessions are over as far as he is concerned and he has to scoot, even though the line outside has only gotten longer, if anything. All of that endless belly aching can wait; he's got a tee-off time with some Congressmen who want to talk about the Post Office Highway Maintenance funding thing. He'll have the CCAs filling potholes too by this time next week.