The summer between high school and college, I was looking for a job – and through pure ignorance of the system, went to the local post office to see if they were hiring. As it turns out, they were – under the special category of “casual employee” a non-union, non civil service part time helper. I think these jobs were usually held by relatives of the postal workers. The local Postmaster decided to buck the system and hired me.
So, there I was, the only shmoe in the P.O. not in uniform, doing odd jobs – sweeping the floor, painting curbs, even sorting letters. It’s a pretty tense workplace – you’ve got to sort a foot high stack of mail every thirty minutes, and there’s no talking since they don’t want you to misdirect mail. They pumped in some kind of “lite” music that was dreadful. It was also deep in the “going postal” era. There was a guy who rebelled by wearing green socks with his postal uniform. There was another, more scary guy who carried a different utility knife to work everyday. He also grilled me on what languages I could speak as he wanted to be able to say “You should fart all night” in as many languages as possible.
Anyway, in the midst of this, for some reason, the Postmaster got in his head that he might work for me someday, so he’d better be nice to me (yes, he actually said that to me) Towards the end of the summer, he offered me the chance to pick an item out of the postal employee catalog. I picked this mug, for employee of the month, USPS, in Suffern, NY 10901-9998 (Isn’t the Zip+4 for the actual Post Office building a great touch?).
He insisted I tell no one, for fear of setting off violent rage among the actual postal workers. So, here I am, years later, breaking my silence. I, Mel Waldorf, possess a USPS Employee of the Month beer stein. I, Mel Waldorf, was never Employee of the Month. I was, in fact, employee for a month.