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“By the Book”

Most of you have just completed the new MIARAP process for interim route adjustments and is something the NALC has pushed for a long time. This involves using the carrier’s own times as part of the adjustment, instead of the long drawn out 6-day count, which caused a lot of confusion and heated tempers. There are always problems with any count, and I liked the 6-day count myself, as I became expert at it after 36 yrs, but any count is fine with me. Why, do I say that? Because I do my route “by the book”.

Now, if you have done your route each day “by the book” then this process is a piece of cake. I document every MSP scan and volume each day and see how I compare daily, to the time it takes me to complete my route. Old timers told me consistency is the key to being a good carrier. I was told this many, many, ago and those words still apply today.

While many routes were added to, my route was cut. I do what Management wants me to do. I deliver all the mail I am told to deliver, and backtrack on letters that are out of sequence in the DPS mail. Sometimes, that means I miss their magic 5 pm goal. However, they issued a standing order to backtrack, and the 5 pm window is a goal, not a regulation, so depending on how many letters I have to backtrack, sometimes they fail to get their performance bonus for that day. If they try to issue discipline for the 5 pm window, as I have seen in some cases, the easy argument is conflicting instructions with Step 4 decision M-00326. Management cannot order you to backtrack and then give you unauthorized OT for conflicting orders. Of course, you should let them know ahead of time, if possible if you know you are going over your call.

That doesn’t mean you are mandated to use your cell phone. You pay for your cell phone and minutes. They cannot tell you to use your cell phone. If they do, get it in writing so you can write it off as a job requirement.

If I must call in, I know where the pay phone (the only one) is located on my route. If I must, I travel to the phone, let them know that I will be late, and add on the time it took me to get to the phone, and the time to get back to where I left my route, and would they please have a reimbursement form ready when I get back, so I can ask for a refund for the change I used for the phone, in order to notify them I am complying with their backtracking order.

Going by the book means backing into the parking spaces when delivering businesses or parking in any slotted parking spot. I always use the seat belt and parking brake. During the summer I have to roll up my windows. The heat climbs to over 115 degrees in the LLV and I have to take my “heat breaks” occasionally. Just doing what they told me to do during the safety talks on Heat Stress. I have those documented too, just in case they forget when they read them on the workroom floor. Seems they like to “forget” things like that. I always try to be sure to “remind” them of what they told us.

Sometimes minor things to management, are bigger things to carriers. How many of you constantly have upside down flats in the morning? I don’t every remember reading where I had to learn to read upside down in my job qualifications? Do you? What’s worse are the carriers that case the mail into the case the way they pick them up, upside down and sideways! Carrying a pivot from one of these guys just costs more time on the street, since I flip them all around right side up, to be sure I don’t mis-deliver a piece of upside down mail, or worse, when they mis-case the upside piece of mail because they are in such a hurry.

I’ve never understood the PTF’s nowadays. They fly around the station casing two, sometimes three routes, and carrying a different one. They run to be back in before the 5 pm window, even running in to swipe their badge before emptying their vehicle. The book says you unload your vehicle first then put your dispatch away, THEN swipe in, however, most PTF’s just look at me when I tell them what the M-41 says. Sadly, most don’t even know what the M-41 is anymore.

I even told one PTF it’s in the Carrier Order Book. He didn’t know what that was either. I asked him if he didn’t know the Carrier Order Book, what did he do with the accountable mail for a particular business. He said he gave it to the receptionist (this was during a portion of my detail as a Union officer, ). I told him there was a letter from the President of the company specifically stating that NO accountable mail is to be delivered to the receptionist, and that no one is allowed to sign for accountable mail except for two people in the company. It’s in the “special order” sheet in the Carrier Order Book. He said he didn’t know anything about it. Isn’t the Carrier Academy training great?

I notice the new carriers don’t listen to the Old Timers anymore. That’s a sad thing. I instruct them on what’s right and what’s wrong with their work habits, but they ignore me. They only come to me when they are being disciplined and need help. Imagine…they are being disciplined by the Supervisor they were running for…and they even usually state that while they are being issued their Letter of Discipline. They don’t know yet that they only are establishing their “standard of performance” on any particular route, and when they can’t run the route one day, they’ll get written up for expansion of street time.

They chide me and say “you do everything by the book” and think it takes way too long “that way”, however, knock on wood, I haven’t had discipline in over 33 yrs. I had a 5 day suspension as a PTF once and had it thrown out. I’ll continue doing things by the book, because that’s what they pay me to do and it takes longer that way. Sure, some take shortcuts, but then they have longer routes, too!

Doing things by the book takes time, and it must be done until it becomes habit. Locking your LLV door takes less than 2 seconds. Think about that for a moment…when you close the LLV door and run into an office, but don’t lock your vehicle, it would only take an additional second or two to avoid that sinking feeling when your return to your vehicle and see a supervisor there with your door open. I always think of that when I close my LLV door, is it worth a Letter of Warning while saving 2 seconds. I think not.

Of course, I’m an Old Timer now and these new PTFs just aren’t the same these days! That’s just what I heard when I first started, in 1973, while I was still a senior in high school. At one time I was the youngest carrier in Orlando, and at the bottom of the seniority list…now I am #6 on the list and have my Official Old Timers Card!

By the Book is not a dirty word, it’s how they pay you, to do things by the rules and regulations set forth. Look, it takes longer, so why wouldn’t you do it “by the book”?

But first, you have to READ the book to be able to do it by the book. How many have you read the Carrier’s Bible, the M-41 Carrier Duties and Responsibilities? It’s in the back of your Route Book… (hint: it’s under your case ledge!)

Till the next time…I have to take my Geritol.

Denny Belden

Aka VetCarrier


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