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CCA Survival: How to Make It Through Your Postal Trial by Fire

Although many are mystified by his mysterious moniker, Mel Carriere is a San Diego mailman who writes about the mail, among other things.

This keen-nosed Beagle can sniff out a CCA within a five-zip-code radius to track down and eat for breakfast with a side of pancakes.

This keen-nosed Beagle can sniff out a CCA within a five-zip-code radius to track down and eat for breakfast with a side of pancakes.

Insights From an Experienced Mail Carrier

I am as guilty as anyone else of not exactly receiving the newly created CCAs (City Carrier Associates) with open arms. As an ODL (overtime desired list) carrier, I was basically dreading nothing less than complete financial apocalypse with the arrival of these newbies, as I watched them rolling in wide-eyed and fresh from CCA academy full of hope of a prosperous postal future, just like I was 20 years ago.

The Postal Service's pipe dream plan was to completely eliminate overtime for pricey folks like me and to instead give all the excess workload to these more cost-effective newcomers. It was a nice dream, I suppose, but like most everything else concocted in the mahogany-lined halls of the postal brain trust, it hasn't quite worked out. Overtime has been reduced, but at least in my office, the reduction has not been significant. Therefore, with complete financial collapse and poverty having at least been deferred for the near future, I am willing to embrace these new folks into the postal family. After all, they are just people trying to make a living, the same as you and I.

If you are a CCA reading this who has been employed by the Postal Service for over a month and you still have your enthusiasm intact, then you are probably doing something wrong. If your supervisors have not beaten you to death yet with impossible expectations and an unforgiving workload, then maybe you are just not cutting the mustard. With this in mind, it is my hope to impart unto you a few time accumulated insights to help you survive the rocky road to postal nirvana.

The list is not exhaustive by any means, but I have tried to hit the major topics. I can't promise that this advice will make the job much easier, but you might be able to get through the tough job of carrying a different route every day without killing yourself, and—who knows?—you might even be able to keep your sense of self-worth intact.

Wear a Belt

This is not meant to be a commentary about your sense of fashion. I know that the style today is to let one's pants hang down to the knees so that every dark, disturbing inch of sweaty butt crack will be exposed, but I've given up trying to worry about that. I'm advising you to wear a belt for purely practical reasons. You will need something to attach your arrow key to because if you lose that arrow key, your postal career is over.

Believe it or not, nobody gets this. I advised all four CCAs I trained to come back on day two with a belt because none of them was wearing one the first day. On day two, all four of them were still beltless, which says something about my ability to inspire obedience in others, I suppose. I guess it takes a calamity like having an arrow key fall out of a pants pocket and then disappear into the inaccessible depths of some dingy, yellowing postal toilet for this warning to be taken seriously.

But because I know you will try to blame me later for not telling you, I am going to set it down here for the record. Wear a belt, and slip the arrow key's hoop between the first and second belt loops. Don't attach it before the first loop because it will still slide off, and you're going to be the one braving the hungry sewer rats to go fetch it, not me!

Although this is an antique model, the basic concept of the postal arrow key has not changed. It should be worn between the second and third belt loops. So even though you might not be able to properly ventilate your hindquarters, wear a belt!

Although this is an antique model, the basic concept of the postal arrow key has not changed. It should be worn between the second and third belt loops. So even though you might not be able to properly ventilate your hindquarters, wear a belt!

Moderate Your Expectations

Now let's come to grips with reality, all of you understandably naïve CCAs out there, floating around adrift and orbitless in this cruel Postal Service universe. In spite of what they might have told you when you hitched your wagon to this horse, it is going to be a long, hard road before you ever make regular and are able to enjoy a stable, predictable work environment in which you are not loaned around from office to office like a sweaty copy of Fifty Shades of Grey in an all-girls dorm. In my office, we have a PTF (Part-time flexible) carrier who has been waiting to make regular for about eight years now. He is not alone; there are a lot of these folks out there.

So if you think that the Blue Fairy is going to come along tomorrow, wave her wand and turn you, Pinocchio, into a real boy or real girl overnight, then you need to moderate your expectations. It is going to be a long, lonesome, tiring road, and you might want to consider other career options in the meantime. First-class mail is not coming back as a means of communication, and the Postal Service is going to continue downsizing. I hate to be the one to break the bad news, but the Postal Service is not as stable a career choice as it used to be.

Larry David's advice is definitely applicable to today's postal CCA.

Larry David's advice is definitely applicable to today's postal CCA.

Feed the Animals

Postal employees are an irascible, cantankerous, surly bunch for the most part, but their attitude is mellowed considerably by food. I have never seen such a shamelessly hungry bunch of people. The quickest way for an emergency responder to clear out a letter carrier's convention hall is not to yell "fire!" but to yell out "doughnuts!" A letter carrier would sell his/her soul for a doughnut, or maybe even just a doughnut hole. Letter carriers will stampede like buffalo over a cliff at the slightest whiff of baked goods. I have no doubt that a group of postal employees stranded on a desert island would resort to cannibalism within minutes.

Therefore, as a CCA, your path to postal success will be eased considerably if you feed these animals, and bringing doughnuts on your first day would be a good start. You might be thinking that kissing your supervisor's butt is a better idea, but it is much more important to kiss your co-worker's butts at this stage in your postal career. While supervisors are often expert butt kissers and boot-lickers themselves, it is only a one-way elevator going up. In other words, you could park an entire bakery truck at your supervisor's desk, and it won't do any good if you are not fulfilling the impossible work performance expectations they have for you.

On the other hand, if the letter carrier animals in the postal zoo are fond of you because you feed them on a regular basis, it will make your life as a CCA easier. Grouchy old Roy on Route 11 might give you 45 minutes instead of an hour if his stomach isn't rumbling, but if it is, that hour has now turned into 1:15. That thirty-minute time swing might be what saves you from getting called into the manager's office to explain why you clocked in off the street after 6 PM, so don't take this advice lightly! Feed the animals!

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Read More From Toughnickel

Letter Carriers are a lovable bunch with a little food in their bellies.

Letter Carriers are a lovable bunch with a little food in their bellies.

Check the "Why Me?" Mentality

Remember that your postal supervisors are not singling you out for punishment because you are not as much of a special case as you think. Postal management has a very short collective memory, and even if you shined all last month, if you suck today, then you are going to hear about it. Furthermore, your CCA comrades in arms are all getting a beat down too, and are probably clocking out pouting and feeling abandoned and dejected, just like you are.

Go home and lay your woes down upon your family. That's what they are there for, but keep the whining out of the office. Store up your sniveling for when you make regular a couple centuries from now. In the meantime, save the crying for the professionals and just do your job as inconspicuously as possible. Your supervisors have heard every sob story in the book, and they don't care. Your co-workers have all gone through what you are going through now, and they will just tell you to suck it up. Instead, have a smile and a kind word for everyone, and the abuse won't seem so bad.

Charlie Brown had legitimate grievances, but you don't, so keep it to yourself.

Charlie Brown had legitimate grievances, but you don't, so keep it to yourself.

Avoid "Piling On"

There is a time-tested supervisor practice in the United States Postal Service that is known as "piling it on." In the past, you may have worked for other companies that have shown appreciation for your hard work and dedication in rational, sensible ways, such as giving you an award or a gift card.

Keep in mind that the Postal Service is neither rational nor sensible. In the post office, your hard work will be rewarded with more work. If you get back too early from the street, they will just spin your slick, spiffy little butt around and have you go help out somewhere else. Furthermore, understanding that you are the type that loves to exceed expectations, tomorrow, they will give you a half-hour extra. If you succeed in getting back early again after that, the next day, it will be an additional hour. Then, if you cannot make the nearly impossible extra hour, even though you skipped your lunch and breaks, you will be tagged as a problem carrier, which you don't want to be. This is how postal supervisors are conditioned to show their love and appreciation for your hard work.

Don't get me wrong; I am not saying to slack off and be lazy. What I am advising you is to complete your work in the time that is expected of you, but not earlier. You don't want to be the one being piled onto because it can be awfully painful at the bottom of the pile.

Besides being out of uniform and looking ridiculous, wearing a helmet and shoulder pads will not allow you to survive the piling on your supervisor is going to give you.

Besides being out of uniform and looking ridiculous, wearing a helmet and shoulder pads will not allow you to survive the piling on your supervisor is going to give you.

The Road Ahead

What can I tell you that brings everything together in a neatly packed nutshell that will give you hope for the future? I definitely do not want to fill you with false optimism that I do not feel, so perhaps my best advice is to GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN! In the meantime, you have a relatively stable job that can help you pay the bills while you look for something a little better. Problem is, you might not get a day off anytime soon so that you can look for better employment. Oh well, I guess I'm just talking in circles; you're really kind of stuck. But I hope these words can make your life in the postal penitentiary a little more bearable.

More Musings About CCAs

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Mel Carriere


Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 19, 2019:

I think Amazon pays $15, usps starts at $17 Mikey. Thank you Jack, Hemet, Jonsey, Saber and Tera. I deleted you John. Not only do you have a foul mouth, you are also ignorant.

Mikeyb on August 19, 2019:

Amazon pays way more then the USPS. No one is leaving Amazon to become a postal worker but people are leaving usps to work at Amazon. Definitely overworked and underpaid. There union dies absolutely nothing to improve wages..

Jackofalltrades on August 19, 2019:

Definitely underpaid. They make a ton of money and pay there employees GARBAGE,

hemet on July 10, 2018:

help Trump, get rid of management and higher positions, that money is like water....going down the drain! Trump put a clean up Team

Jonsey on July 06, 2018:

I just wish there was ac

Saber39 on May 15, 2018:

After over 25 years in 9 offices a lot of that is true. Some places work better than others with CCA's.

Tera on April 29, 2018:

I have been a cca for 8 months in a fairly large city and I love it! Yes it's hard and the work load can be overwhelming- it's definitely not for the weak!

Smalltowncca on March 20, 2018:

I have come to one conclusion; it is evident that, even with all the expectations of the overall PS, each PM runs a different show in his/her office in order to meet these expectations. I am very grateful to be a CCA in my district; I am able to, not so much enjoy, but get work done without feeling as if I'm walking on egg shells. I have already learned 4 routes fully; my schedule consists of switching these routes around weekly without overload(unless office in overload) each where I case and carry a full route. Although, I did just mark my 90 days. We will see. On the other hand, my husband might take a position in another state; we would move in a month or so if he accepts. How should I approach and go about possibly moving to another office where there is a CCA opening? How much time in advance should I take action if we do end up moving in 2 months(at the latest)? Help please. I don't want to handle wrong and lose position before securing any other.

Paul on September 13, 2017:

Your article is riddled with misinformation. I am a CCA and although we keep busy, just like the rest of the regulars, it is a challenging and very rewarding job. Our trainers, unlike yourself were capable of supplying us with the tools and information we need to be efficient. productive and most of all professional. Something you obviously lack by the tone of your article. If you don't like the help...then leave your job but, don't try to take from other people opportunities with your sarcastic, condescending remarks.

Bridget on July 25, 2017:

I hope your still reading this page. I'm a new CCA and really struggling. I've skipped my breaks and lunches and I'm still not making the expected time on a route. Today the route I was given should take about 3 hours. It took me 5.5 hours. Really frustrated and ready to quit.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 18, 2017:

I don't think you'll get fired for a misdelivery, Auspman. Even old-timers misdeliver sometimes, though they won't admit it. Unless, that is, there are other complaints about your performance and they use the misdelivery as an excuse. Good luck.

Dustin Moore on April 04, 2017:

Your are so right!! Its hell on earth!!

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on December 05, 2016:

Matthew, you were obviously working on a perfect little postal fantasy island. Lots of CCAs have horror stories, which you can read about in the comments section. Thanks for reading.

Matthew on December 05, 2016:

I totally disagree with most of your comments. I was a PTF letter carrier for a period of time and moved up. The problem I had was the regular carriers and not the management. Some regular carriers treated the PTF letter carriers like they were better than we were. I do agree that if you treat the regulars well (by bringing in food or helping out), they treated you good. If you work hard and did what you were supposed to do, management left you alone. There were some managers/supervisors that let the power go to their heads, but the main issues were the regular carriers.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 30, 2016:

I don't know your situation, Willow, so it is impossible for me to tell. Why not contact your local Rural Carriers union with your concerns? Thanks for reading.

willow on November 30, 2016:

I worked for the post office for one year and then I resigned because I had a surgery that was going to put me out for 6 months. I am healed, all better now, and applied as a rural carrier at another post office and was told by the postmaster I have the job, but she's sending everything to HR. I don't have to be trained, I already have a score and experience, will pass background and drug test no problem, what I am concerned about is I didn't have a great relationship with my previous pm. She was angry I resigned. Is it possible she could've put ineligible for rehire? Just worrying I wont get back in....what do you think??

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 23, 2016:

Large cities will give you more opportunity to move around when you make regular and you want to change offices, Rose. To me it seems like CCA is more stable than PSE. Also, PSEs have to work a lot of split shifts, meaning work in the morning, so home then come back in the afternoon. I would say CCA is better but I'm biased, being a letter carrier. Thanks for reading.

Rose on November 22, 2016:

I have 3 opportunities for CCA in several cities. My question is should I go with the larger or smaller cities. Also I have been offered PSE. Should I go PSE or CCA route? This has become a very complicated decision after the internet researching. Thank you Mel!

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 06, 2016:

PseGuy, it sounds like you have worked at one of the best of stations and one of the worst of stations. At my office we are a bunch of old grumps but I think we embrace pretty much everybody as family, even the PSEs and CCAs. I still don't buy the idea that clerks get treated better these days by management, some of ours would tell you different. Again, you seem to have wound up in clerk heaven, where you are now. Thanks again.

PseGuy on November 04, 2016:

Well, I'll say this: I worked as a casual clerk for a year, 9 years ago and back then they practically worked me to death. Worked 6 days a week, split shifts everyday, 65+ hours a week. No benifits, nonights, no sick leave or days off (except Sunday.) Regulars treated me lower than dirt and filed grievances saying i was stealing their hours. I made 10 bucks an hour back then... The carriers at the city station i was in were some of the worst, grumpiest, rude people i've EVER met. There were a few nice ones but overall they were all a holes. The clerks too. The only difference was the clerks were all fat and worthless. Fast forward to today, PSEs as non careers get treated SO much better than 10 years ago! Even get represented by a union and get leave! Wow! And two days off and a set schedule!? Crazy! I guess I'm just glad USPS is treating their employees better these days. I hope things have improved for the CCAs too but in doubt it. Leadership will always expect the impossible from carriers. At least with clerks the work is spread around and not just on one individual. Rant over lol

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 04, 2016:

PseGuy, when I first joined 23 years ago clerks were falling over each other to transfer to carrier. You are simply in an idyllic situation. Your little fantasy island does not exist everywhere. When one does run across that boss from hell it is much better to be a carrier and escape him or her on the street. In my station the clerks have all kinds of EEO complaints against the boss. Besides that, throwing parcels and spreading red plums can be hard work too. I've done it. Thanks for reading and for giving us the clerk perspective.

PseGuy on November 04, 2016:

Worked as a casual clerk 9 years ago, worked all kinds of jobs since, just got out of the military and am back at the post office as a PSE Clerk. Full circle! Been back about 7 weeks now and the work is physical but not hard. I have a good boss. He leaves me alone and let's his employees work. I work at a processing center so there is always work to do and the days go by fast. Always get 40 hours and OT as well. My best advice is skip being a carrier and be a clerk. It's a better quality of life, you stay out of the element and it's easier on the body. From what I've seen and heard so far PSEs are being converted in under a year. I make $16.06 plus night diffirential. Hard to find that in the private sector. Be a clerk, not a carrier. Cheers.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 03, 2016:

Uncertain, as far as hours go you will be working more than you want or need. The average wait to regular is about a year and a half to two years, which is pretty good considering the pre-CCA PTFS were waiting about 8 years at the end. You will be moved around, nothing you can do about that, so get familiar with GPS real quick. Thanks for reading.

Uncertain on November 03, 2016:

Hey, Mel. I just had shadow day with regular. And I got tons of question if you can answer then if not its ok. I came from being school bus driver to CCA. I need more $ and decided to switch over. Now I'm reconsidering whether I made a right choice? I saw 1 CCA there for a year hasn't become regular yet, and there are 3 people ahead of me. Trainer told me once I passed probation they may toss me around the city station is that true? How many hours will I have if I say at this station, they only have 10 routes. I'm not sure if I can make bills with 4 hours a week or a day. 2 things I don't like the most its, I will be on cca list for I don't know how long. Second thing, I don't want to switch to different station to help out. I don't know the area at all.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 27, 2016:

Good advice garyb. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving a comment.

garyb on October 26, 2016:

your blog is great!! I started in maint and work in accounting services now -

35 years in working in private sector and it ISN"T!! better there either.

1st time in my life I'm at a middle income-thank God.

CCA's-keep applying for jobs -the USPS is HUGE and there are

lots of jobs. just learn how to work the job bid system.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 18, 2016:

Well, conquer girl, you won't have to clean any feces. Good luck!

Conquer-girl on October 18, 2016:

Omg Please help me , I don't think any job can be worst than what I'm doing right now I shower people, cleaned their feces because of incontinence, transfer them to wheelchairs and they're very heavy and change diapers every day, my job is extremely hard and the pay is so bad. Is been a cca harder than this? I'm suppose to go for an interview next week, I was so happy about this job because the pay is better but after reading this article it seems like I won't have enough time for my family. What should I do ???

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 10, 2016:

You have to enjoy your family while you can Serge, because the time goes by fast. Good night from the opposite coast.

Serge A Storms on October 10, 2016:

Ok Mel, thanks for response... Lol... Spent the day with my wife & 5 year old daughter... Trying too enjoy it now.... I hope I get hired... Because... I guess I won't see them for the next few years.... That's if I "Hopefully Get Hired"... Do your "Time"... I mean... Do a good job... Earn your position & career... Cross my fingers... Lots of "Love From Long Island"... Good Night...

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 10, 2016:

Serge I would rather walk in the 90 degree heat than mow lawns or dig in it. I just got done uprooting a lemon tree in 70 degree weather and I'm drenched. I think you can hack this job. Good luck.

Serge A Storms on October 10, 2016:

Hey Mel, it's Serge A Storms... Thank You for your response. I'm from Long Island NY... I'm still on the Pre-Hire List for 2 positions... No calls yet... I've done a lot of research on CCA on the Internet... PLUS... A 16 year owner of a Landscaping Business... I've gotten too know a lot of Mel Carrier's over the years... Because... I sometimes would block The Mailbox... I'd always run over & grab the mail so they wouldn't have to get out of their LLV... ( I only know what that means because of my research)... Lol... Anyway... I would always say, "I wish I had your job"... The Mail Person would respond with, "I wish I had your job"... Sooooo... Here I am... Waiting to get hired by the USPS... Am I Crazy? I know what it takes to walk 8-10 hours a day, in the 90 degree weather, in the rain & snow... I will give you Mail People prop's for driving around in a LLV when it's 90 degrees outside, but 110 degrees in your LLV. A get it. It's a tough job. Not easy. BUT... I feel like I can do it... Any things better then cutting Lawns. Waiting to get paid 2-3 months later... ( More on that later)... I could go on & on... Thanks again Mel... ( If Lenny or Coelman call asking where I am???) You don't know...

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 09, 2016:

Josh, I wrote the article, a little quicker than I thought. I hope it helps. Here's the link:

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 08, 2016:

I love your user name. How is the storm surge where you live, Serge? I don't want to see you doing your commute paddling, by any means.

I think what you need to do is call and verify this. I have never heard of anybody commuting an hour to work, but it might be different there. Seems strange that they changed the zip codes after you applied. Like I said, try to find a live body to talk to before you get stuck with a job where you are an hour on the road.

Good luck, however it turns out. Thanks for reading.

Serge A Storms on October 08, 2016:

Hello Mel. Came across your articles as I was looking up information about being a CCA. Great stuff !!! I am on 2 Pre-Hire List for CCA. When I originally applied for both jobs, the positions were for two offices in my area. When I went back to look at my job statues, both positions were now different. They both now included Zip Codes that are an hour or more away from me. Would the USPS really want me too commute over an hour away? Wouldn't it be in their best interest too assign me closer too home? I mean for purposes as weather related. Was just curious if you have any information on this. Thanks for any feedback. Love your articles. " Be careful. It's dumb out there"

Josh on October 07, 2016:

Hey sorry just nervous and debating if i should leave my current job or not. (Which is not a good job lol) Thank you, i look forward to your article.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 06, 2016:

Josh, you ask so many questions you make my head spin, but they are good questions. Rather than write a novel here, I'm going to write another article, which I will hopefully post in the next couple days. I will post here to you again when it is up. Thanks for the idea.

Josh on October 06, 2016:

Hey I'm going to an interview for a CCA position next week. Just have a few questions.

Any tips for the interview?

Being a new CCA, am I always going to be working on Sundays?

I noticed the job posting said "including but not limited to...(5 different post offices)". Does that mean I could potentially be working an absurd amount of routes and have these 7 day hellish work weeks that i've heard about?

Do CCA's ever get an actual schedule or is it just hey phone call at 5am, come into work now. Can you say no? What are some examples of not taking crap from these intimidation tactics that supervisors may implement?

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 04, 2016:

I don't know what to tell you John. I'm sure you could apply, no one can stop you doing that, and hopefully the hiring managers need new CCAs so bad they won't investigate your background. That's a possibility. Good luck, give it a try. Let me know how it goes.

JOHN on October 04, 2016:

I was asked to "resign" my CCA position, at my 45 day mark, because I wasn't cutting it. Yes, I was surprised by the way it occurred, considering I was previously recommended for my own route. My question is whether or not I can/should apply for another CCA position at another site. I understand the game, but think maybe I'd stand a better chance at another station.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 01, 2016:

You are welcome. Thank you.

Jamie Page from Dahlonega, Ga on September 30, 2016:


Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 29, 2016:

Jamie I assume you have been accepted as a CCA and will be moving over to the city side. It is a very different animal over there. Most of the time you won't be casing at all, at least in the beginning. You will go into the office about 9 and your mail will be ready. Later, as you gain experience they will have you case mail, and this will get easier the more you get experience. What they are interested in with CCAs is someone who delivers proficiently, not so much casing. So get that out of your head.

They call it case training but it involves all aspects of Postal work, including vehicle training. You will have an edge on this job because you have already had a taste.

I will gladly follow your hubs, and I hope you return the favor. Thanks for reading.

Jamie Page from Dahlonega, Ga on September 29, 2016:

Ps... Here is the link to my hubs if your are bored. haha.

Jamie Page from Dahlonega, Ga on September 28, 2016:

Wow.. what a great hub. I hub too. I love your commitment to answering questions.

So... I have a few questions for you. Thanks in advance for answering them.

I am currently a 'star?' employee as they called it. Basically, I was hired by a transportation company to run as a sub on a route for a guy who just wants another day off during the week. I am a rural route delivery contractor for the usps.

I love the rural route I run for 160 bucks ( 8am till 3pm is my day)... It is just for one day a week though.... Nobody messes with me in the office, just don't screw up and everything is golden. That works for me... but I need more money. ( Who doesn't? )

I have applied and been accepted to become an actual employee for the usps at a branch that is running 28 subs short in a very busy north Atlanta town. (150? routes I think)

USPS human resources said I can't continue my contractor work at the other branch... conflict of interest, I guess. Kinda sucks I have to ditch that gig if I want to work as an actual usps employee.. but I need to get more money. :-)

My questions are... Hiring PM (from another town, no less) said I can expect to run 5 to 6 days a week. I assume each day will be a different route since the office I am going to is short 28 subs.

How can I possibly learn to case a different route a day when it took me a week or so to learn to case the rural route I already do?

Will they pace out my learning or just expect me to go blind and case a new rout on the first day, every day?

My main concerns are casing... not running the route.

Are there any tips or tricks for casing a new route on day one and running it?

I was told that I will be sent to some location in Atlanta for five days of 'case' training... but it will not be for any routes I will be doing. ( didn't seem to make any sense to me... )

Why would it take five days of training to show me how to put mail in a case slot that matches an address?

Thanks for any guidance you can give me. - Jamie.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 16, 2016:

Sounds like an island of enlightened management in an otherwise murky, tumultuous postal sea. The group text thing sounds like a great idea. Thanks for commenting.

JJ on September 16, 2016:

I recently got converted in 13 months. I think my office isn't too harsh on new CCA as stated in the post. I am very lucky I have a good OTJ trainer, he is the one that actually knows the whole zip code. My office covers part of downtown (~1 mil population metro city), so some routes have different businesses that's delivered in the alley loading docks or some offices are hidden, (off the actual address) He can basically tells you anything you need to look out in whatever route you're on. I don't know who started this, but all CCAs are in a group text and we all have each other's number. Since we have 4 zip code in the office. We have CCAs that always cover the same zip code and if I am somehow send to a route that some other ccas know, we can ask each other in the group text. We also inform each other news around the office such as which route is on long vacation or which route is splitted. Who is around this area that wants to grab lunch together and such like that. We have 22 CCAs in the group text now half of us already converted too.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 11, 2016:

Yeah, my "advise," Mr. Educated Enid is don't do it, because if you go into the job with that kind of superior attitude you are going to fail.

For your information, there are all kinds of postal employees with 4 year degrees but as you already know, a degree doesn't get you much these days, and it doesn't bestow intelligence or wisdom on you. The "uneducated " person giving you orders might have a better degree than you.

If you do take the job I hope you will humble yourself, or you will be humbled. And stop making assumptions about people. A piece of paper does not give you wisdom.

Hope to see you around San Diego.

Enid on September 11, 2016:

I just accepted and I read this article and I'm honestly very scared. I live in San Diego and reading this makes me want to quit and I have not even started. I don't know what I was thinking and now I'm regreting it. I am college educated and I don't like the fact that someone uneducated will come and try to make my life and job impossible... I don't know what to do I am frustrated. Any advise?

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 04, 2016:

You make good points here Nick, but you don't get long opts by impressing regulars, you get opts by bidding on them, and they are awarded based on seniority. If it is done otherwise where you work that is a violation and the Union should step in. Just wanted to make that clear. Thanks for reading.

NickJames on September 04, 2016:

My only advise for CCA's is to listen to the regulars, earn your place, and don't run. The converting rate has been increasing over time, but running fast will forever make it harder and harder to manage routes and just make to many mistakes. Took me three years to get regular. Many of your thoughts do hit it right on the money, but when I was a CCA the best way to impress the regulars and my supervisor was to make sure I do the route right to the regulars standards, and was to stand up to the supervisors. I was able to get many long opts due to the fact I would help regulars, and keep their routes in good shape.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 04, 2016:

He must have been really bad, Jeff, to merit that kind of disagreeable behavior. Yes there are labor/management disputes but we have to remember our manners and behave humanely. Thanks for reading.

Jeff on September 04, 2016:

My postmaster had a heart attack and the majority of the people in the office were cheering. Was a horrible experience but that shows the kind of work environment the post office is. The post master has since transferred to another town because our union is too strong and he couldn't fire the employs that were cheering / applauding... Only in the post office

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 03, 2016:

Elrey you are wise indeed. There is light at the end of the tunnel for the CCA. I hope you have a tasty lunch. I would wrote some lunch articles for you but if you saw the way I eat your stomach would turn. Thanks for reading!

Elrey7 on September 02, 2016:

Hey Mel just saw this page while looking for lunch ideas on the route. You give them a good idea about the job. They have to realize their schedule is now at the supervisors discretion. Work sundays, holidays, early, and late. There is hope I was a CCA for 1 year and 8 months before being converted. I think once you get past your 90/120 you usually get the hang of times. Newbies listen to Mel don't kill you self trying to please supervisors, they will just ask more of you

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 30, 2016:

Ms. Blue,

We actually used to have a position called Part Time flexible, but the part-timer usually worked about 60 hours a week. CCAs are only guaranteed 4 hours a day, but the nature of mail delivery is such that they will be sent to the spot that needs the most help and as such will work eight hours and then some. Unlike other businesses, the mail cannot be delayed until tomorrow, everything has to go today, which means working people until dark if necessary. Technically, CCA probably is a part-time position but in practice does not work that way. Good question. Thanks for reading.

Jezebel Blue on August 29, 2016:

@Mel Carrier

I am curious if you have any insight into something I have wondered about the USPS? Why aren't carrier positions offered as part-time?

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 26, 2016:

Malachi, I think they will tell you anything you want to hear to get you to sign up. In all fairness, I think they make an effort to get CCAs close to home, but you will be bouncing around between stations on occasion.

I have written a host of articles about CCAs that will help give you some insight. They can be accessed at Just scroll down the list on my profile there and you will find plenty of CCA articles.

Good luck to you. Keep me posted.

Malachi on August 22, 2016:

Hello Mel, thanks for all the help and the time you are giving us newbies.

I'm suppose to start orientation this week,

I am a little nervous because i dont have lots of experience driving, much less a truck, can you give me some insight as to what to expect during my training and once im out there on my own?

Also, my uncle has been a mailman for about 30 years and will retire soon, he asked his supervisor if i could join his station because it is a good neighborhood, he said i cant because i was already accepted somewhere else (which is not bad either) BUT he also said that in the future postal workers will be assigned to the stations closer to where they live.

Sounds too good to be true and wanted to ask you if you heard anything about that?

Thanks again for all the help, have a good one!

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 20, 2016:

Jay, as far as question one is concerned, call your local NALC union office. They can tell you. You are absolutely correct, with only three routes in an office you can get bogged down on the path to regular, and you might not get that many hours either. This is something you definitely need to investigate before taking the plunge.

As far as question 2 is concerned, currently our union is in contract negotiations. I don't have the details at my fingertips, but your union office might help again. Try this link for more info:

Question 3 - The new vehicles should be rolling out in the next couple of years. I don't know if they will have AC or not, but the hard reality is that you are going to have to get out of that vehicle, and might not be spending a lot of time in the AC anyway. If you are sensitive to sunshine and hot temperatures, as some people are, you might reconsider.

I hope this helps, Jay. Thanks for reading.

Jay on July 18, 2016:

Good afternoon, Mel:

First off, thanks for the insightful write-up, as well as for all of the answers to specific follow-on questions.

I've been looking to get out from behind a desk for some time now, and I recently applied/interviewed for a CCA position. I've already been into the PO to fill out some new hire related paperwork, and now I am waiting on the official offer to come down.

I've been doing my research, but it seems there is always more to know. Do you mind if I rattle off a handful of questions?:

1) The PO I would be working at is definitely on the smaller side with only 3 routes if I am not mistaken. That is concerning for me in terms of making FTR. I've read that CCAs may be part of bigger pool for potential FTR conversion if their PO is part of a larger "installation". Is there somewhere I can find out if my PO is part of one?

2) What are your thoughts on CCA wage increases across the board or the potential that CCAs as non-career positions are eliminated in favor of career positions? I've read a lot about the costly (and unanticipated) turnover with CCAs since creation of the position; I'm not holding my breath for USPS to offer more career positions out of the goodness of their heart, but I'm wondering if at some point they might realize it would make more fiscal sense to do so. Then again, staring at either Clinton or Trump, I am not getting my hopes up for any federal employees.

Case in point: If I know today that nothing would change for the indefinite future, I don't think I would give it a go and put in ~8 years to get to the previous starting wage. If I do give it a go, it's because I think there will be changes to the CCA role/compensation that are more beneficial than navigating the current step progressions.

3) Do you know anything about the new LLVs and their planned rollout. I would be working in an area with very hot temperatures, and my understanding is that the new LLVs will have A/C =D

Thanks for any insight!


Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 14, 2016:

Shawn you have the right attitude. The Army Reserves can't hurt you, because they are forced by law to respect your reserve time. Advice? Well, I have several other articles in this venue full of advice. If you visit. and click on the CCA link on the upper right you will find links to them. Thanks for reading and the best of luck!

Shawn on July 13, 2016:

Hey Mel, Love your gritty truth on this occupation. I have applied for a CCA position in my home town. I have been in the military most of my adult life. I am 28 years old and love a challenge. I have always placed the mission first and I am no stranger to hard work. I feel like I was meant for this type of work. I am Also a member of the Army Reserves, will this effect me in a negitive way? Also is there any advice you can give? I'm in this for the long Hal no matter what I won't quit. Just want a career that's safer for me and less stressful on my wife and kids.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 06, 2016:

I am afraid to say probably not, Newbie. They are pretty ruthless about having you available when they need you. Be honest about this at the interview, maybe they have enlightened management where you live. I wish I had a happier answer. Thanks for reading.

EL- newbie on July 04, 2016:

I have a 4 year old toddler, there are times where I will need to pick him up from school at 3:30pm. I have an interview for the CCA position tomorrow. Do the PO, work with CCA that have families to attend to?

Wannabe Carriere on June 26, 2016:

Thanks for the insite...deff hate to start a job & quite.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 25, 2016:

I can't make that decision for you wannabe. Maybe by rescheduling you will be perceived as flaky. You definitely will be passed around from office to office, especially in a place with only six routes. Good luck.

Wannabe Carriere on June 25, 2016:

1: Sooo I start orientation Monday-Tuesday but I have two promising interviews both days...will it effect my hiring process if i reschedule by Sunday as my email states.

2: Also I was selected as a CCA for a small PO which only has 6 routes, but will I get pulled to the busier POs to help out within the county if they are short. Also my Postmaster where I I was selected calls me every other day to see where I am at with the hiring process ..smh

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 24, 2016:

New guy, the road to regular is about a year and a half to two years. If you make the grade you are guaranteed a shot at regular based upon the current contract, but they are busy negotiating a new contract now, so things may be subject to change. City jobs these days seem to have better benefits than us. Our health care is pricey. I would weigh my decision carefully. Thanks for reading.

New guy on June 23, 2016:

Debating only because I'm looking for something new and I work for the city with full benefits and good pay but dislike what I'm doing now because I'm being under uncompensated by doing more than one position. I don't know if it's a good thing to do USPS I'm not sure if that will be giving up my career to do USPS and I don't become a career employee with USPS. I would have to start from the beginning and lose my benefits etc

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 20, 2016:

Give it a try New Guy. You can always quit later if you don't like it. Give it a chance.

New Guy on June 18, 2016:

Hi Mel,

I just passed the test and just waiting for a email about the interview. Currently reside in Brooklyn, NY. Work for the City and still debating if I should become a CCA

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 18, 2016:

I'm glad Fair Oaks is doing so well Ed. In San Diego it takes about 2 years. It's still a tough road ahead for all the newbies. Thanks for reading!

Ed on June 17, 2016:

Sorry for the issues that you folks are having. In the Fair Oaks Post Office (Sacramento Ca.) my CCA's are making regular in approx 18 months, which means thay have there route and are getting the full benifits of a regular carrier. We have a retention rate of 100% so we are doing something right with our 37 routes.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 24, 2016:

Don't let my words deter you Dave. I'm describing a worst case scenario. Your actual experience will hopefully fall somewhere in between Postal Paradise and Purgatory. It is entirely realistic that you will even like it. Good luck!

Dave on May 24, 2016:

I literally just accepted a CCA position (mere minutes ago) and now I'm afraid I've made a terrible mistake. :(

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 22, 2016:

You are in a great situation RJ and I hope you get to stay there for a while. Every once in a while we find these postal paradises like yours. Thanks for reading!

RJ on May 22, 2016:

I REALLY must be doing something wrong. I've recently cleared my probationary period as a CCA and for the most part, have found everyone I work with to be really helpful and willing to teach me the ropes. I feel much more competent than I did from even a few weeks ago, and have also found management to be supportive as well. Admittedly, the first several weeks WERE a real challenge and very stressful, but that has past and I feel there is always someone I can turn to for assistance.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 21, 2016:

We just had a PSE promoted Shields, so they are moving up. PTFs were promoted first - only fair because some of them had 8 years in, but they're all finished and now CCAs are being promoted regularly. Thanks for reading!

ShieldsCW on May 20, 2016:

Are promotion times getting better for CCAs and PSEs? Everything I read on the subject is 3-6 years old, and refers to PTF employees being promoted first, but that there shouldn't be many left by now.

Are there are any other positions still getting promoted ahead of CCAs?

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on April 27, 2016:

If you are still there James they must like something about you. Have they spoken to you about your office return times? If so, that could be problematic. To be honest, I have not seen any CCAs in our office dismissed while on probation, and we have had some bad ones. Fortunately, you have a Union that will go to bat for you. Talk to your local union office and voice your concerns. Good luck to you, I hope you make your probation.

James LA CCA on April 27, 2016:

This a great post and glad I found it. All the information you've written is absolutely true. This is one of the most grueling jobs I've ever had, mentally and physically. Make no mistake I am in for this for the long run; hopefully after I pass my probation which is in 3 weeks

My question is, being a new CCA, does not making your office return times as instructed by supervisors hinder your chances of making it past probation?

what other major things affect you making it past probation?

The closer to the date I get the more stressed out I am.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on February 01, 2016:

They do that everywhere nacho. Thanks again.

naacho cca on February 01, 2016:

Thanks a lot Mel. I really appreciate you looking into that here in Harrison NY they try to prolong stuff till the very end. Thank you again.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on January 31, 2016:

I'll look into it nacho cca. That's not exactly how it works in San Diego, we have so many empty routes and so many CCAs that I just think they notify the CCA when they make regular, or are about to make regular. But I'll see if somebody knows. By the way, there is an excellent NALC Facebook group page that you should join. If you ask your question there somebody will certainly answer it.

nacho cca on January 31, 2016:

Mel carrier would you happen to know how long does it take exactly after the route gets posted on eReassign for me to become a regular? Thank you

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on January 30, 2016:

Very true nacho cca. Too many people are intimidated into silence. Thanks for reading!

nacho cca on January 29, 2016:

all bullshit I have been a cca for almost 3 years in July. I will be a regular in a month and a half, one of the regulars transferred. It is true that management will try to take advantage of you. That's only if you let them. When they tried that shit on me I made sure to let them know I'm no sucker and stood up for myself. Remember it's all up to you. You and only you can defend your self.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 03, 2015:

Maybe you did the right thing Abel. Maybe you lost some money but you saved your soul. Good luck to you in the future.

Abel ceja on November 03, 2015:

Month ago was hired as a cca .. now i do understand why no one cant handle that job... 2 days of training and i was out on the street by my own.. didnt know the routes still to be back at the office like the regular ones.. plus need to do the caising in time like they do is just insane... I almost forgot about this never trust nobody they will do everything on theyr hands so you dont make it thru the 3 month probation. I quit today!!!! Feel alive again..

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 01, 2015:

That sounds like a dreary scenario, Baddayer, but it is essentially true. Postal supervisors are notoriously uneducated. In fact, education seems to be a liability because in school they teach you about professional management practices, and these don't carry over well into postal supervision. Thanks for reading!

Baddayer on October 31, 2015:

A job name "cca"in post office is not human can do it, most of supervisors is mean to cca,because most of supervisors don't have get educated ,they don't know how to respect people ,they push everyone ,especially cca, they don't care how much work you got,hoping u work as much as can, or maybe I can say hoping u can work until u die,that is the job!

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 01, 2015:

Yes Abel. Don't confuse yourself overthinking things. If your trainer says don't worry about something don't worry about it. Just try to master the simple basic tasks first, then you can worry about the finer points. Thanks for reading.

Abel on October 01, 2015:

Hi Mel. I very much appreciate this article. I am a new hire as a CCA . My orientation class is on Monday . I heard all type of things about this job good and bad.

Im really happy about getting this job. I know the road is gonna be difficult but I will make it to the end.

Can you give me some advice .... thanks

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 30, 2015:

Nobody measures the miles. Every route has different amounts of addresses, it is not fixed. You can opt on routes but there is no guarantee that you will get them so yes, you will work different routes every day. All that stuff about no breaks is not always true, but can be. Bathrooms vary. Yes you may or may not have to sort mail. There are no easy answers.

MNC2 on July 29, 2015:

Thanks for the reply. I am in fact in my 20s. There is so much negativity about this job. I'd like to nail down as many details as possible and make an informed decision. How many miles would you say a CCA covers daily? How many addresses? If a CCA is basically a substitute, how often do they get the same route? Is it common to work 6 days in a week with 6 different routes? I've seen comments about unsafe trucks and no break/lunch time. Is that true? How can you have no breaks in a 10 hour work day? Where do mail carriers use the bathroom? Would I be responsible for sorting the mail before embarking on my route, or am I given a full truck ready to go?

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 28, 2015:

If you are in your 20s MNC2 I guess you can run if you wish, but I'll you'll get is more work for it. The problem is after several years the job catches up to you. You are going to get hurt. Every carrier I know has a bad knee, a bad ankle, a bad shoulder, a bad elbow, carpal tunnel, or all of the above. Mostly all of the above. We have an old timer right now who was quite the runner as a youngster, but the job has taken its toll and he has been on extended months long stints of rehab here in the twilight of his career for various health reasons, all related to tripping on something or banging into something. Running is fine when you are young, I suppose, but you have to remember it's a marathon not a sprint and if you plan to be in it for the long haul you have to take care of yourself. As far as the first question goes, I have known ex newspaper delivery people and pizza delivery people who said the same thing as you, "How hard could it be?" and then when they got into it they couldn't take it and quit. You have to see it for yourself, and you have to go in with a humble attitude. If you go in like you are going to run circles around these old timers you better be careful, because they will humble you. Otherwise, enjoy your workout and I wish you the best.

MNC2 on July 28, 2015:

I'm considering applying for a CCA position. In a typical day how many addresses can one expect? When I was a teenager I had several paper routes at one time, delivering 400 papers daily. I would run the entire time to get it done fast. As a CCA, are you allowed to run? This seems like a very simple and easy job, is there something more to the job that I'm not seeing? Why all the doom and gloom? How hard can walking/running really be? For now I see it as a potential to get paid to workout.

Bogomoe on June 04, 2015:

Hey Mel, Thanks for the response.

No one told me that. On the USPS job search website they have regular carrier openings listed that I have applied for. I didn't know you MUST start as a CCA. I'm just under informed at this point :-).

As far as checking out the Berkeley area, I guess I could drive over there and maybe catch a CCA out working and ask a few questions, or is there a website or something else you can recommend for finding out a fact or 2?

Thanks for your work on all this. It definitely helps people like me.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 04, 2015:

As far as I know Bogomoe they are not hiring anyone as a Regular Carrier straight out of the chute, you have to go in as a CCA. If somebody is telling you otherwise they are giving you false information. Even if you have an application in for regular carrier, you will still be a CCA if you are accepted and will have to wait your turn to move up. As far as average promotion time and area, etc, it all depends on the area you live in. I don't know about the retirement time but I can't see why CCA service wouldn't count. Thanks for reading.

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