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Postal Customers from Hell - Version 1.0

Updated on July 10, 2013
Mel Carriere profile image

Although many are mystified by his mysterious moniker, Mel Carriere is a San Diego mailman who writes about the mail, among other things.

Mr. Zip used to let things like the weather, supervisors, and bad customers get him down, but ever since he began to self-medicate it takes a lot to wipe the smile off of his face.
Mr. Zip used to let things like the weather, supervisors, and bad customers get him down, but ever since he began to self-medicate it takes a lot to wipe the smile off of his face. | Source

"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night

stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion

of their appointed rounds."

-Saying attributed to Herodotus, Greek historian

-about 500 BC

The above poem has been the bane of Letter Carriers for the past 2,500 years. Although it was originally written by a pretty smart Greek guy to describe the daring exploits of courageous battle couriers, it got connected to the Postal Service when some snooty gentleman with a flair for dead language poetry decided to nail it to the wall of a Post Office. Ever since then, Americans have been quoting the passage as if it was the law, to the detriment of every man and woman wearing postal blue that has to navigate a myriad of obstacles that are stumbled upon on a daily basis. The most imposing of these encumbrances can be the very customers that the mail is being delivered to.

Of course I'm not saying that all postal customers are of the pain in the neck variety; I'm just saying that Postal Customers are just another representative sampling of humanity. They come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. At one end of this spectrum are those sweet, darling, constantly giving people who treat their letter carrier as a member of the family; the people whose dogs even swoon with delight and roll over for a belly scratching when the Mailman or Mail-lady walks by. Then there are the vast majority of people in the middle who don't go out of their way to be nice but who do not create any problems for carriers in their "swift completion of their appointed rounds." They just mind their own business, which is just fine. Finally, there is the borderline-psychopath element that seems to enjoy being hostile, abusive, and contentious.

It is this latter group that is the topic for today. They are a diversified grab-bag, and they come in every shade of neurosis imaginable. These are the people who seem to think that the d*** poem I posted above covers every imaginable barrier to mail delivery, and the Mailman or Mail-lady is obligated to deliver no matter what because the poem says so. It is impossible to cover all of these warm, wonderful, hug-able folks without writing a hub that rivals War and Peace in size, so I'll try to cover a few at a time, as I have the misfortune to stumble across them.


The original letter carriers might have moved a little quicker than those of today, but as history tells us about a place called Marathon, they usually dropped dead after completing the route.
The original letter carriers might have moved a little quicker than those of today, but as history tells us about a place called Marathon, they usually dropped dead after completing the route. | Source

V 1.1 - Mrs. Frustrated Former Beauty Queen

Customer from Hell Number one is Mrs. Frustrated Former Beauty Queen. She is a self-proclaimed former knockout who has not aged well, to put it kindly. The mirror upon her wall no longer says complementary, reassuring things to her. She has not yet gotten used to the fact that men don't fawn over her beauty any more, and she takes out her frustration about no longer being worshiped as a goddess on every man she sees. This includes the Mailman. Once, when attempting to deliver a certified letter to her house, Mrs. FFBQ answered the ring by proclaiming in a very regal tone that "I normally do not answer the door," as if she was doing me a big favor by accepting her own mail and that I should be very grateful for it. I think she was suggesting that falling to my knees and kow-towing might be an appropriate gesture.

Mrs. FFBQ is starving for attention, and because people don't automatically give her enough of this anymore she turns into a pain in the a** to get it. She has the Post Office on speed dial, so that she can instantly complain about every minor deviation from what she believes to be proper mail delivery. If the letters are not placed in her box at what she considers to be the correct angle she will call and complain about it. There is no appeasing the ever changing whims of this goddess, and the letter carrier must move silently toward her box in order not to attract her attention. Walking past her house is like tiptoeing on eggshells.

Another major issue with Mrs. Frustrated Former Beauty Queen is her lawn, the Garden of the Goddess, which you can see below. It is the centerpiece of her world, and she is highly devoted to it. Mrs. FFBQ insists that the letter carrier not tread across her lawn for fear of a sprinkler head being broken. As you can see from the picture, looking for a sprinkler in this lawn would be about as elusive a task as finding the Holy Grail. This withered grass has not been blessed by the output of a sprinkler since it last rained in the Atacama desert, a place that receives approximately a half inch of rain on the average per year, and in some parts has not received a drop of moisture in recorded history. If there were sprinkler heads on her lawn at some point, it is possible that they have been trampled as Mrs. FFBQ parks on it, which in her judgment is not a factor in her sprinkler loss. Instead, she insists that all letter carriers are on a holy mission to destroy her irrigation system, and demands that they stay off the lovely, verdant meadow of her garden. I don't particularly wish to walk across that dead lawn anyway, for fear that all the moisture in my body will be immediately sucked down into that desiccated, withered expanse.

On the other hand, Mr. FFBQ is a very pleasant, smiling fellow and never has a negative word for the Mailman. In my opinion this is because A:) he must remain in a constant state of intoxication in order to survive the rigors of living with his spouse, or B:) He is a combat veteran who has survived so many traumatic experiences that living with his wife is a breeze by comparison.

Mrs. FFBQ has a directive in place that she doesn't want the Mailman to walk across her dead grass by any means, for fear that a sprinkler head will be broken.  But what is this?
Mrs. FFBQ has a directive in place that she doesn't want the Mailman to walk across her dead grass by any means, for fear that a sprinkler head will be broken. But what is this? | Source
Compare the Atacama desert, where in some places it has not rained in recorded history.  Still, the average annual moisture here may be higher than in the lawn above.
Compare the Atacama desert, where in some places it has not rained in recorded history. Still, the average annual moisture here may be higher than in the lawn above. | Source

V 1.2 - Mr. My Yard is a Mine Field

Mr. My Yard is a Mine Field expects the letter carrier to navigate any number of dangerous obstacles that he has booby-trapped into his yard to keep things interesting. It is possible that Mr. MYIAMF served on the Western Front during the First World War, and he never got it out of his system. His yard looks like a scene from the second half of the movie "War Horse." He has even let bees build a hive in his mailbox, and he still expects you to stick your hand in there to deliver the mail. "Suck it up, buttercup!" is his response to your complaints.

One of my co-workers skirmished with this customer last year, and lost. Mr. MYIAMF had heavily fortified the approaches to his mailbox using large stones, assorted fallen yard ornaments, and railroad ties. My co-worker tripped over one of the railroad ties and tore a hamstring severely. He was out of work for several months. Mr. MYIAMF probably watched the whole thing triumphantly from his concealed concrete command post bunker. He told my supervisor that my wounded co-worker was overreacting, the usual reaction that this class of customer has to mailman mishaps that take place on their property.

Navigating through Mr. MYIAMF's yard is a little bit like trying to slog through this Western Front miasma, but just "suck it up, buttercup!"
Navigating through Mr. MYIAMF's yard is a little bit like trying to slog through this Western Front miasma, but just "suck it up, buttercup!" | Source
You try getting around this mess without pulling a muscle or throwing a disc out.
You try getting around this mess without pulling a muscle or throwing a disc out. | Source

V 1.3 - Ms. But Of Course I Check My Mail Every Day

Dealing with full mail boxes is one of the more annoying tasks that a letter carrier is forced to carry out. Some customers will let the mail accumulate until the Mailman needs a shoehorn or a trash compactor to squeeze any more letters in. Once the stuffed box has filled to the point where the letter carrier cannot cram in a single letter more the mail must then be pried loose from the box, rubber banded up, and taken back to the Post Office. This is a time consuming task and no one I know of in the postal ranks likes to do it. The accumulated mail is then held for customer pickup for ten days; after which it must be returned to sender, by law.

Returning the mail to sender can cause a crisis, to say the least. Usually around the 1st of the month, when the largess of the taxpaying public is missing from her mailbox, Ms. But of Course I Check My Mail Every Day will storm into her local Post Office screaming unprintable invective against her letter carrier because that blankety blank has returned her mail to sender. There is nothing that a delivery supervisor can do or say to calm Ms. BOCICMMED down. She will swear that she checks her mailbox like clockwork every day and that the mean and nasty Letter Carrier is acting out of pure spite. She will even try to invoke Jesus to back her up, shouting out what a good Christian she is whenever she can squeeze this claim in between swear words. The implication she is making is that this is the greatest persecution since the Romans were feeding believers to the lions. She will bring down the wrath of God on her poor letter carrier and the Postal Service in general. The sky turns black and the earth trembles when Ms. BOCICMMED walks into the Post Office.

The only good part about this disagreeable encounter is that the letter carrier is out on the street delivering, leaving the supervisors and the clerks to take the abuse. But the fury of Ms. But of Course I Check My Mail Everyday knows no bounds, and she will eventually catch up to the letter carrier too. She is relentless.

Ms. BOCICMMED swears she checks her mail every day, but other than the 1st of the month her box is filled to overflowing capacity.
Ms. BOCICMMED swears she checks her mail every day, but other than the 1st of the month her box is filled to overflowing capacity. | Source

The Tip of the Iceberg

The few examples of Postal Customers from Hell that I have presented here are but the tip of the Iceberg. As with Icebergs, the great portion of what I have left to say on this subject remains unexposed beneath the frigid postal waters. Letter Carriers are as vulnerable as the Titanic trying to steam across this iceberg-clogged sea, but nonetheless manage to maintain a cheery disposition while doing it. Anyhow, It is my sworn duty, at some undisclosed future date, to regale you with more horror stories of postal customers run amok. But in the meantime I leave you with the blissful delusion that all is well in the postal universe. Until we meet again,

-Mel

Mel has explored but the tip of the iceberg on this subject.  Watch for more Postal Customers from Hell as they make their disagreeable presence known.
Mel has explored but the tip of the iceberg on this subject. Watch for more Postal Customers from Hell as they make their disagreeable presence known. | Source

Postman Persecution

In your experience, how much of a struggle should a letter carrier have to go through to deliver a customer's mail?

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    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 3 years ago

      I'm lucky to get my mail at all! My street is one of those "We'll drive by it only on alternate days so you might as well drive your mail to those nifty blue boxes because we won't pick any mail up"... more than a dozen times, my mail has been put into my neighbor's mailbox which is right next to mine despite the fact that her box is labeled "ONE" with her name in large print... and mine is "FIVE" with my name in large bold letters along with my son's name.

      I miss the days of living next to a school... I always got my mail and it was picked up on time. Now it's only if I bolt to get the mail from the carrier myself.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Sounds like a real postal horror story. I could write another hub entitled "Letter Carriers from Hell," and maybe I will in the future. I believe that most letter carriers are conscientious, careful, and do their best to provide good customer service, but it seems like you got one of the bad apples. I apologize on the half of all of my kind.

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 3 years ago

      My favorite is when the postal worker told me, "I don't have to pick your mail up. It's not required since you live on this street."

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 3 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Sounds like you mail men in the US have an interesting time of it. Our postmen over here are elusive creatures. If they have to deliver a package they will give you around 2 seconds to get to the door before they shove a card through with details of where to claim your parcel.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      We definitely want to deliver those parcels, because in our extremely "low tech" postal service on this side of the pond it is a tedious process to fill out the notices for them. We are still using paper forms for it, if you can believe that. I have actually seen packages come over here from the UK, and they have nifty little bar codes on them that the postman can peel off and affix to a notification form. I don't know why we can't do that here. Makes too much sense, I guess. Thanks for your interesting and informative comment.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      There's always some in every bunch, Mel. After this entertaining work is all said and done, you must take all this work and make a book out of it. It would sell, too. Keep on keeping on, and you're a credit to the postal service. Speak softly and carry a big stick!

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Very nice words. Thank you very much. I think you're going to be the one selling books soon, of all those wonderful bird pictures you take.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I just started a blog, which will come out in tomorrow's Life at Boomer Lake. Just in case you didn't know, Mr. Zip made his debut on a US 5 cent stamp(in 1964?)

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Mr. Zip is about as old as I am, then. Oh no I'm aging myself. He's still as speedy as ever, and has not lost his appeal. I'll be looking for your blog, as I am a big bird fan myself. We postal workers, former and current, can be multi-faceted individuals.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Voted very little. Why would they have to struggle when they have so much work to do? I live on a dirt road and when it rains a lot it gets flooded and the sign says "do not enter when flooded" so I find it normal for our postal carrier to refuse to deliver those days as the truck may get stuck.

    • Mel Jay profile image

      Mel Jay 3 years ago from Australia

      You crack me up Mel, so funny! But on the serious side, it's bad enough to have to deal with weather and dogs, cruddy customers must be the straw that brakes the camel's back for some 'Posties', as we call Mailmen down here. Looking forward to more tales of the trials of letter carriers! Up and funny from me - Cheers, Mel

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you alexadry for your understanding. In spite of that little poem I put on the top of the hub, there are situations in which the letter carrier absolutely cannot deliver. Thanks for dropping by.

      Also thanks to you Mel Jay. Do the people in your country have a good attitude toward your "Posties," or are they looked upon as we look upon them here sometimes, lazy public servants with a bad attitude? Sometimes we earn our reputation, but a lot of us try to do our jobs well. Thanks again!

    • Mel Jay profile image

      Mel Jay 3 years ago from Australia

      Our Posties whiz around on little 50cc Hondas - I had a mate who was a Postie and loved it, but his wife was pretty mad about it because he left his high-paying accountancy job to join Australia Post at half the income! He was happy though - he hated being an accountant. We generally respect our Posties here, they are efficient and don't often make mistakes. The poor souls have to work in such dreadful heat throughout summer. I can't remember having too many conversations with the Posties as they are so quick on those bikes, sometimes they don't even stop, they just get the letters in the slot on the fly! Quite skilful really, kind of like a form of postal sport.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      I don't know how they can carry around a lot of mail on a bike. We all drive small trucks or vans here and have to struggle sometimes to cram everything into them. I would like to see one of your "Posties" in action. Thanks for the interesting comment.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an entertaining hub, Mel! It's informative, too. Most of the letter carriers that come to my neighborhood are friendly individuals, whatever they have to put up with in their job. It's interesting to read about some of the problems that they have to face!

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      I'm delighted that you liked it. Fortunately, most customers are wonderful, so don't get the wrong idea. Thanks for dropping in!

    • brownella profile image

      brownella 3 years ago from New England

      Great hub! My Dad is a mailman and we always loved hearing his dinner time stories (he had some great ones). I think his biggest pet peeve is people who do not shovel their paths in winter...at all (and we get a lot of snow) shockingly, wading through three feet of it in freezing weather is not his favorite thing. Nice to know he has a kindred spirit, thanks for sharing :)

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      As a West coast sunshine letter carrier I have not gone through the extreme conditions your Father did, or this hub would probably grow to novel size. I can only admire his ability to endure that to make a living for his family. Thanks for stopping by and you definitely have a kindred spirit here.

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