Rubbish, Pathetic, Lazy?


On 11th December it will be one year since my accident. The accident where I slipped on black ice and fractured my elbow. The accident that lead to me having an operation to screw the bones back together and that would see me having to take 5.5 months sick leave from work. The accident that I sustained whilst trying to do my job, delivering the mail.

With the return of the snow and ice my stomach has been churning at the thought of falling again. I know the chances of me falling and seriously injuring myself are small but still one year on I barely have a day where there is no pain in my arm and still I cannot straighten it, lift heavy weights or even carry a bag of shopping on that arm.

In the last few days when much of the UK has been at a standstill I have managed, somehow, to get to work and do my job as best I can. I did refuse to deliver a section of the round I was on last week as it is all steep slopes and steps which are bad enough in good weather but in ice and snow for me the fear of slipping was too much and I asked for someone else to deliver that section.

I have been met with, mostly, kind remarks at turning up with the post after trudging through 6-8 inches of snow. However there are some folks who seem to think that just because they don’t get their mail that ALL posties are rubbish, pathetic, lazy, you name I’ve heard it or read it online this last few days.

So for the record here is how my day goes, if you think you could do it then fine but if you couldn’t do it then please don’t criticise my workmates and I.

My alarm goes off at 3.45. I get up, get washed and dressed, let the dog out, feed the cat, grab a cup of coffee, have a quick browse of the news, Twitter and check the cricket score. At 4.30 I set off for work, it’s just a few minutes drive usually but with all the ice on the hill it takes longer. In fact last week I needed a van to collect me as my car couldn’t make it up the hill at all. I start work at 5am and there’s no time for chatting or breakfast, we’re straight into sorting the mail. Letters in one place, large flats (magazines, A4) in a different place, packets and large parcels in yet another place. I do this until 6.20am when I go and prep my own round. On busy days we get “called back” to sort mail until it’s all cleared. Different rounds have different sorting times depending on how big the round is.

I collect up all the letters, large flats and packets and sort them into the frame which means everything is in the order it will be delivered. This can take a 2-3 hours on a good day, on a bad day 4! The mail is then put into manageble bundles, then bags and a driver takes the bags out and places them in the overweight boxes. I load up my delivery bag and head out the door. The delivery bag can weigh up to 16kg and the overweight bags 11kg.

I still haven’t had time to stop and eat and have probably managed a chocolate bar or a piece of cake whilst I’m sorting. I’ve also not had chance to sit down since I got out of the car.

Delivery can take between 3.5 and 4.5 hours, depending on how busy it is and with Christmas just a few days away it’s getting really busy. This week we have the added interest, if you can call it that, of snow, lots of snow! By the time I’m done delivering I am shattered and finally get home around 2pm if I’m lucky getting home at 3pm is not unusual this time of year. Now I can sit down and think about eating something ‘proper’ for the first time in the day.

Some of the things that make my job harder in this weather include icy paths, frozen gates, frozen letterboxes, icicles falling from roofs, dripping water freezing in sheets on steps, freezing fingers and toes. I can only wear fingerless gloves as it’s hard to flip through the letters in full gloves. I am only allowed to wear shoes or boots provided by my employer, I cannot wear wellies or walking boots without getting in trouble.

This morning when I left for work it was -13C, when I came home the temperature was -5C, almost tropical, ha!

In the last week I’ve also had to walk 3 miles home as I couldn’t get back any other way and then the following day I had to walk 1.5 miles so that a van could pick me up. My round has just under 800 delivery points and by the time I’ve walked round the office and then delivered the mail I have walked around 6-7 miles.

For the most part I like my job, there are things about it I don’t like but I won’t go into that here. The one thing that makes me really annoyed is people calling posties rubbish, pathetic and lazy. Sure there will be a minority that don’t really care but most of us do work very hard. If you still think I/we are rubbish, pathetic or lazy then I challenge you to spend the day with a postie and see for yourself. You can forget watching late night tv, or having the energy to go down the pub, you’ll be too tired. Not that you could drink alcohol as you’d be over the drink drive limit by the time you had to drive the next morning. Your muscles will ache so much all you want to do is sit in a hot bath but there’s housework and all the other things to do.

In the last few days some posties haven’t delivered mail because they can’t safely get to your house, or they can’t get out of their own house, they may have lost a relative or be caring for a sick child or partner. There may not have even been a delivery of mail to a particular sorting office, if there’s nothing there to sort then there’s nothing to deliver. There are many reasons why an individual may not have got post today, the chances are it’s not because the postie is rubbish, pathetic or lazy!