Mel's Meal Maintenance Meditations - Thoughts on NALC Food Drive 2013
Mega Meal Madness!
Preliminary Results Appear to Indicate that the 2013 Food Drive May be a Record Breaker
The jury is still out, but early indications point to this 2013 version of the National Association of Letter Carriers food drive being a record breaker. I was there for either the first or the second one in 1994, which would make about 19 food drives for me, and never have I collected so much food. I am physically exhausted, but I suppose I will sleep the sleep of the righteous knowing that I played my part in this tremendous effort.
It wasn't even close. For me, the 2013 food drive won by a landslide. Both the front and rear compartments of my LLV were bursting with food when a supervisor came by and took my haul back to the station at about 2:15. At this point I was about two thirds through my route, and I still managed to fill up the front compartment again and most of the back compartment before I returned to the station. To get an idea of the amount of food I collected the photo of the rear compartment seen above can be doubled, and about eight or nine bags stacked on top of that to boot. Yes, I have seen pictures from other places in the country that make my haul look like chicken feed by comparison, but the zip code I work in is decidedly lower middle class, and I understand that you snooty rich post offices are always going to kick our lowly butts. Still, this was a remarkable year.
Last year I remember collecting about four or five bags on the walking route I was carrying on my T-6 string that day. I was on another walking route today but I picked up at least 30 bags. I definitely committed a journalistic faux pas by not counting the bags accurately, but I was not expecting to pick up so much and I was thrown for a loop. In the morning when I was making my committment with the supervisor I had last year's food drive in mind so I overestimated myself and had to run like a rookie to play catch up.
What was the difference? My theory is that this year in the San Diego District we distributed large paper bags to our postal customers, rather than the flimsy plastic bags we passed out last year. Last year I felt like a Von's bagboy trying to get those unmanageable things ready to stuff in mailboxes, and I think that a lot of our customers thought the flimsy, untidy plastic bags were trash and treated them as such. On the other hand, the paper bags had a clearly printed message upon them that was immediately visible. Furthermore, the paper bags held more, and customers were stuffing them tight to prove it. These factors might have made the difference in the quantity of this year's haul.
I suppose that the votes (in the form of tonnage collected) still need to be counted, just like in an election, before we can get too excited and declare victory, but I have a gut feel that this one is going to be huge and surpass our previous food drives. I think the victory will be indisputable, with no hanging chad controversy. Why? Either this food drive was publicized better or the economy is improving.
There are always a handful of disgruntled letter carriers who take advantage of this day to complain about poor people (why can't they buy their own damn food) and drag their feet about the food drive, but even though it involves extra work without necessarily being allowed extra time by stingy supervisors, most letter carriers go about their business this day with enthusiasm and graciousness. I should actually take it easy on the supervisors, because on this particular day most of them are out on the back dock rolling up their sleeves and sorting the food with the carriers. Many employees come in on their days off and work for free on food drive day, and sometimes they bring their families with them. Two teenage children of one of my coworkers were out on the back dock helping carriers unload the food when I got back to the station. It is nice to see that at least one day out of the year people put aside pettiness and work together toward a common goal in a spirit of charity and cooperation. There still may be hope for the human race!
Wishing you a happy food drive day,