Today I received the following award from the U.S. Postal Service:
RE: Official Letter of Warning (LOW) issued to Dale Lund on above date
To Whom it may concern:
When told that I would be receiving this LOW, I threw out two questions. Neither required an answer, for the answers were obvious and known by both the supervisor and myself. The first question was: “Do you think I missed these scans intentionally?” The second was: “Do you think that warning a man in his sixties never to forget again is reasonable?”
Hand-held scanners are relatively new to the Postal Service, being a nightmare and a nuisance to carriers from the beginning. Some scanning actually does provide a service, e.g. delivery confirmation, but MSP scanning is simply to inform district management what time each carrier gets to certain points on the route and if he/she did in fact pick up outgoing mail from a collection box after the given collection time. In effect, the carrier is obligated to assist management in spying on the carrier. As this LOW points out, “MSP scans are being made in an attempt to provide consistent/timely delivery of the mail.” In other words, if not for using these hand-held scanners to scan various bar-codes inside mailboxes, etc. throughout the route, the carrier’s work and delivery would be erratic and irresponsible. Having worked for the United States Postal Service 24 years, it’s my experience that carriers are just as responsible, regular, diligent and hard-working as ever, except that now they feel as though they’re not trusted. So morale is lower.
The LOW states that I have “failed to follow instructions on MSP scanning, which causes customers’ loss of confidence in our ability to provide good service.” This is bunk. I am as conscientious as possible about following instructions, but the major bunk is the second part of the statement. People don’t give a large rodent’s posterior about MSP scans in regards to service (delivery confirmations excepted). All some know is that there’s a weird, bar-code sticker put inside the mailbox they struggled to set up in accordance to postal regulations--the box they had to buy but that the USPS claims as its property. They see the carrier come by, open their box, put mail in, then scan the bar-code, and they wonder about it. I don’t think the term “service” enters their mind concerning this.
Also, several times, someone has noticed me scanning the blue pickup box downtown after emptying it, and has asked me something like, “Do they make you do that to prove you’ve picked it up?” My response is, “Yes, they don’t trust us, but they expect you to.” I don’t think “service” comes to mind here either.
We all forget at times. We’re human (SURPRISE!). Collection box scans can be checked later by the carrier, but other MSP scans cannot be. And so these scans must be remembered or missed; there’s no turning back. Occasionally carriers miss a scan--they forget, usually due to distraction--and only a fool would think these misses are intentional. More and more work, in these hard times, is piled on each carrier. As route length increases, so does time pressure. Carriers on the street are distracted constantly, yet are both conscientious and skilled in overcoming these obstacles. But they are not perfect, nor will they ever be. It’s sad that USPS management (especially district management) has become so twisted as to consider the scanning of a bar-code more important than accurate mail delivery and, yes, more important than service.
This LOW is inaccurate. It mentions my missing only one MSP scan, when actually I missed two within a couple weeks, which is very rare for me. My good scanning record has been commended several times by my supervisors. What a mean fellow I am to have missed these scans now! And, if I miss one more within 30 days, “more severe disciplinary action” will be taken against me. “Such action may include suspensions, reduction in grade and/or pay, or removal from the Postal Service”!
Even murder, if unintentional, is reduced to involuntary manslaughter and can avoid serious punishment. While Christ was being intentionally tortured and killed by crucifixion, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” How wicked I am to forget to scan a bar-code!
If I were to promise never to forget again, I would be as unreasonable as this LOW. But I do promise to continue to do my best, as I have for 24 years in the USPS. And I do indeed promise never to miss another MSP scan after March 31st of this year. Most employees who do their best receive a commendation at retirement. I receive a Letter of Warning.
Sincerely yours for 47 more days,
This letter is to be attached to the Letter of Warning.
[On March 23, 2011, my supervisor, Jeff Campbell, called me over to his desk to "witness something." He showed me the Letter of Warning and my letter in response to it. He then put them together and fed them into the shredding machine. After the letters were no more, he turned to me, smiled, and shook my hand.]
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.