I've been a postal worker for 17 years, and I'm unnerved by the current situation: 'It's getting scarier'
Chris (not his real name), 41, is a veteran postal worker in Massachusetts who spoke to Business Insider about what the past few months have been like for him.
The US Postal Service has been dealing with financial trouble, a pandemic, and the president's recent admission that he would block funding in order to sabotage mail-in voting.
Chris, whose identity Business Insider has verified, spoke anonymously out of concern for losing his position.
This is his story, edited for length and clarity, as told to reporter Juliana Kaplan.
[The past few months,] it's been very, very different. I've been doing it for 17 years.
Especially with these COVID times we're in, [my management team has] been excellent as far as providing us with gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and even social distancing the whole office.
And I know not all offices have been doing that, which is unfortunate, but my management team has been right on top of things.
It's quite a spotlight on our company right now. That's been pretty worrisome to go to work with every day.
As far as the talk about holding back first class mail, that's something that we've always been told that we don't do. And now we're going to be told the opposite.
My office has been doing everything right by the customers and doing things right by the employees. And we've been moving on mail still, but we have been hearing the news.
When our mail is ready to go — it's supposed to be ready at 8:30 — we're supposed to leave the office. Now, every year previous to right now, if mail was late — if there was a truck running behind, or mail coming in late — you waited until all the mails of the day got there. Now, the orders are we are just to hit the street and leave mail.
If we're supposed to go over eight hours for the day, if the mail was heavy that day, more of a workload than what we anticipated, we would put in for our overtime. But now we're told just to cut the mail.
So, say there's a new person that doesn't know the route. He's just learning. And he's out there and say he has three streets left at four o'clock, which is when my office hits eight hours for a day; they are instructed by upper management to just bring the mail back, which is not something we've ever done.
When I got hired, we actually swore an oath to just move the mail no matter what; I'm sure you've heard it — rain, sleet, snow, gloom of night, we move the mail.
It's a little scary to see it nowadays ... it's just a little nerve-racking.
Like I said, I can only speak for myself. I can't speak for the other 650,000 postal workers out there, but ... you get up every day and you have to put on the uniform, and you go to work. You work as hard as you can to serve your customers and community.
And just the way they're talking about us is completely inaccurate. Everyone I work with is a great worker who works their butt off. But everyone's just out there doing their job. And just to hear the idea that we could be undermined by people above us — it's unnerving.
In my community I've been hearing a lot of people just stopping me and telling me that they stand with us, which is great to hear.
We are so integrated into our communities. Especially someone's who been doing it a long time, like myself, who does a mail route every day, I'm almost like a fixture that goes unnoticed every day. I'm just there.
More people have been stopping me, stopping fellow workers also, saying, "You know, we just want to let you know, we stand with you, we support you."
I have not had any concern [over mail-in ballots], to be honest with you.
I think I safely speak for every postal worker in saying that we are more than confident that that's something we can handle. You know, we get trusted with medication on a daily basis. We get trusted with all the checks that just got sent out, people's social security checks, unemployment checks, this is what we do. This is our profession. You know, we take a lot of pride in it.
How do I feel about [Trump saying he would sabotage USPS funding to sabotage mail-in voting]? It's not the right thing to do. What is the incentive to do that?
As far as the route goes, it's an interesting world out there these days. You run into all different types of people. People who don't want to give you your social distance, you know? And so you just say, "Listen, if you want me to keep providing you the service that I'm providing you, you have to either wear a mask or give me my space when I do my job." But I haven't really run into that too often.
And I gotta tell ya, I have more pride in my job and what I do right now than I ever have in 17 years.
It's pretty overwhelming to watch, during this COVID-19 era, the way we've come together and watch out for each other's safety and give each other our social distance while also working together to get the job done.
I can see all of the changes already. I'm not trying to be dramatic or anything, but you can feel the difference on the street, in the office, as far as the mood, in how things have transpired in just a few days.
It's getting a little scary. It was scary last week; now it's getting scarier.
We've had our jobs threatened. Right now if customers ask us we're to totally not answer about our feelings on it, where we are in our job, how we feel about the mail-in voting situation, we've been told: "If you like your career, don't talk."
I'm sure you've seen the locked mailboxes all over Twitter. That's standard procedure. If an area has been vandalized before, in between certain pick up times they'll lock boxes. If there's a high volume of tourists at a certain time near a certain area, they'll lock boxes so there's no vandalizing going. That is standard procedure, to the best of my knowledge.
The taking away of the mailboxes? It's been done before during the Bush and Obama administration, when mail lightened up as far as letters — we started doing more packages than letters. But the timing of the mailboxes being picked up right now makes no sense. That is happening. That is definitely unnerving.
The important thing is the attempt to delay the mail.
We're maybe a day off from where we usually are, but we're still moving the mail, we're out here trying to move as fast as we can with the hours we're given to get the medication out there. All the ballots are coming back, we're trying to get them out there. Fortunately, first class letters have dropped off.
Read more: USPS warned 46 states that it can't guarantee that all mail-in-ballots would arrive on time to be counted
I don't totally trust the postmaster's general incentives to take these actions — whether before the election or afterwards — but I'm at least glad for the election that it's all on hold. Hopefully he puts back all the mailboxes that were removed last week.
In my opinion, right now, my stance is, I don't want to get into politics, because, like I said, I'm speaking for 650,000 people — they may not share the same political point of view as I do.
But if people aren't happy with the direction this is going, do their research [on] where it's coming from — it's coming from somewhere — they gotta get out there and vote, make the right choices, and, if at all possible, when you buy a package, if you have an option, pick us.
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