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Are you on the Track Team?

If you are running your route, one question….Why? You get paid for a fair day’s work, running means you are putting forth extra effort. Maybe it means you feel better that you are saving the postal service money for doing a 9 hr route in 8, or that by skipping your lunch and breaks you get to go home early and see your kids ball game. We’ve all done this now and then when it benefits us, but most of us have only done it occasionally.

The ones I am addressing are the constant runners. You know these types. Management uses them to compare against you when they think you are not walking fast enough. (Remember there is “no street pace a carrier must walk”) But they always bring this guy up saying, “Well, he can do your route in 7 hrs, so why do you need aux. assistance?”

These carriers are ones we have seen over the years wind up with bad backs, foot problems, knee problems, and health issues. Then they ask you how have you lasted for 30 plus years? Well, the answer is simple. You carry your route so that you can last 30 years. The runners never last! I haven’t seen a runner retire yet, at least not with some health issues, and in the end they were slowed down by their problems. Many wouldn’t have had the problems if they took care of themselves early on.

Management only cares about numbers. Your clock rings and your calls are numbers. If you are a runner these numbers come back to haunt you. Do you really think if you finish a long route early management will take pity on you and not add to you when route adjustments come along? Now the 9 hr route is 10 hrs and you can’t do it in 8. This is management’s way of saying “thank you, job well done”. This thank you is in a form of a huge time consuming route. They add more territory and huge amounts in volume. Of course the runner then screams at the steward, “Why isn’t the Union doing something about this?”

This is where the numbers come back to haunt the runner again. They show the carrier returning on time or asking for very little relief. The runner screams that everyone knows his route is 8 hrs if it was done right, or that other carriers can’t carry in the amount of time he does. Remember that routes are adjusted to the regular carrier on that route and the pace they walk. The runner claims his route is 8, but the clock rings show different, they show the route is light. Whose fault is that? The Union’s? The Steward? The supervisor? Let’s put the blame where it should be, the runner.

So what does a runner do then? He bids off. Now he goes to ruin another route and the route gets dumped on another carrier. Management then starts harassing the new carrier on the route saying the other carrier could do it in X amount of time, why are you taking so much longer. The runner then does the same thing to another route and screams again, bids off, and goes on to ruin another route. The carriers left in his wake wind up with huge routes, and they usually are the newly promoted PTF’s. Gee, welcome to being a regular!

I know that any runner reading this will probably ignore my advice to walk a normal pace and do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, but like many compulsive behaviors, they won’t be able to do it. Once they get used to running, they can’t stop. Only when their health demands it, do they slow down.

Let me share a humorous incident that happened to me one day on my route in College Park. I sent relief one day and put down how long it would take. The runner got my relief and burned it up. I had all business and if you follow proper procedure, backing in, locking doors, rolling up windows, a carrier could not have completed my 4 hrs. in 2 1/2 hrs, but he did.


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One day I got 2 hrs relief off his route. I had undertime on my route, but this was an especially light day. So I said to myself, “Self…it’s payback time.” So I ran my route, skipped my breaks (I did take lunch) and then rushed over to his section. I ran his relief and then went back to the station. I inputted his relief into the transactor and submitted my 3996 for his relief.

The supervisor came over to me and asked if the 3996 was correct. I said yes, why? He asked if I had the 2 hrs relief. I replied I did. He then said, “You did it in 15 minutes?” I smiled and said yes. He walked away shaking his head.

They talked to the other carrier the next day and he swore that it was 2 hours. He came to talk to me and asked how did I do it in 15 minutes? I told him the same way he did mine in 2 ½ hrs. He got the hint. He never ran my route again. By the way, he went out on disability. He didn’t make 16 yrs. I’m heading towards 33 years. Although I did what I am exhorting you NOT to do, I did it to make a point to someone. He’s now drawing a disability check (40% of his salary) and I’m still working.

Try and work at a pace you can maintain for years. That means don’t stress your body by running routes in 95 degree heat, stressing your foot, ankle and knee joints. Slinging a heavy satchel around doesn’t help your back or neck. I now see more and more carriers who do park and loop routes developing neck stress injuries and degenerative disk disease in their cervical vertebrae. Also, rotator cuff injuries are more apparent. I’ve had both problems.

You have to carry your route like you want to make a career out of it. If you ran 100 yds and back, over and over, and I walked it, who do you think will last in the long run? Now expand that to walking routes that cover 8 to 13 miles a day, 5 to 6 days a week for years, decades. Who will be still walking while the runner is at the hospital? Got the idea. Make the smart choice on your career, otherwise, plan on a short career!


Denny “Payback” Belden

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