Promotion to Postal 204b - A CCA Guide to The Dark Side

Will this Death Star be your final destination?  Beware the seductive powers of the Postal Dark Side.
Will this Death Star be your final destination? Beware the seductive powers of the Postal Dark Side. | Source

Postal Penny-Pitching Powerfully Persists

Since the 2007 recession and the disastrous decline in first class mail that followed, the United Postal Service has been in cost cutting mode. Route cuts, plant closures, service standard reductions, and a determined crusade to eliminate Saturday delivery have been a few of the methods used to bandage the bleeding bottom line. The creation of the reduced pay, increased work position of City Carrier Assistant (CCA), has been part and parcel of this trend. Then again, if you are reading this as a CCA, you probably don't want to hear any more about parcels after wearing yourself out delivering Amazon packages on Sunday.

Alas, even as the parcel business increases and the enfeebled mail flow shows signs of creeping up to its pre-recession high water mark, postal management continues to flop away like a grounded fish in a misguided attempt to nickel and dime its way back to profitability. The latest attempt at penny pitching seems to be a widespread trend to promote CCAs to 204b, a temporary supervisor position. Since you, the overworked, underappreciated City Carrier Assistant may be seduced by the hypnotizing allure of resting your tired posterior in a padded postal position of authority, you need to learn the dangers before you dive in to those shark infested waters. In particular, you should completely understand why the powers at be want you there, and what their real intentions are.

In weighing whether to cross over to the dark side, keep in mind that management is probably not asking you because they think you're special. Yes, you might be incredibly hard working, good looking, and overflowing with charm, wit and intelligence, but don't kid yourself. I realize you're new, but how many postal supervisors have you seen with those alluring qualities? At this point you can count the good ones on one hand, maybe one finger (no please don't use that nasty middle one). I've been working in the Postal Service for 22 years, and I still don't need two hands to count the good supervisors I've come across.

22 years in the Post Office, and the number of happy fingers used to count good supervisors still doesn't fill up one hand.
22 years in the Post Office, and the number of happy fingers used to count good supervisors still doesn't fill up one hand. | Source

Where does the term "204b" come from?

The commonly used title of the position comes from section 204(b) of Public Law 68 - June 10, 1955, titled Dual Employment and Extra Duties:

"Sec. 204.(b) As the needs of the service require, an employee may be assigned from time to time to perform, without change in compensation, duties and responsibilities other than the duties and responsibilities specifically set forth in his position description..."

So Why Me?

So you wonder- why are they asking me, of all people, to move up to 204b? Why have I been blessed with this opportunity?

The truth is they have seen certain qualities in you, but those qualities might not be the ones you are most proud of. What they are counting on is a certain degree of naivete on your part; a potential to be molded and manipulated. They want to change you from a bright eyed, eager young CCA Jedi who still believes in truth and justice, into a soulless Postal Sith Lord automaton who follows orders without question and is willing to punish people on the slightest pretext, no matter how arbitrary.

You're just jealous Mel - you say. They've never asked you to be supervise, so you're intoxicated on the bitter brew of sour grapes.

Shaking my head slowly and shamefully, I stagger drunkenly a few steps back to my computer to reply to your comeback. It is not envy that has me in this inebriated state, but relief! A few years ago I accepted the offer to give management a try. Yes, I was tempted over to the dark side of the force and sat in the 204b chair for a horrible year and a half - the worst job I've ever had, by far. In the process, I almost had my own soul sucked out by the relentless tractor beam of the Management Death Star, but rescued myself before it was too late. Since then I have been asked to go back several times, but have always refused. Even today the nightmare lingers; the nightmare of being expected to do the impossible and to work ridiculously long, often unpaid hours to try and accomplish that which cannot be done.

Lately, however, those requests have stopped. A recent Postal trend, at least in my neck of the woods, seems to be that City Carrier Assistants alone are being asked to check their self-esteem and standards of decency at the door and jump into the dog eat dog, backstabbing world of Postal Management; a place where only gloomy, gray, humorless sharks survive by devouring all of the colorful, happy, frolicking fish on the reef.

In pointing out the reality of what you are going up against, I'm not going to advise you to accept or not. Lord knows the Postal Service needs good people in management, and maybe you will turn out to be one of the few. Perchance you will be able to withstand the ferocious Stockholm Syndrome cognitive dissonance you will be subjected to, and become a positive force for change in this organization. I thought the same about myself and gave it an honest effort, but it wasn't meant to be. Every day in the 204b job was as futile as trying to bail out the Titanic with a shot glass, so I gave it up.

Therefore, to help you make the right decision, here is your CCA Guide to The Dark Side. I've broken it down into categories which detail the insidious reasons they have fingered you for this role. Don't say you haven't been warned.

Will you be seduced by the pinball powers of the Dark Side of the Force?
Will you be seduced by the pinball powers of the Dark Side of the Force? | Source

Reason One: You're Cheap

As a young Postal Jedi who just graduated from Postal Padawan academy, you need someone to dry off the moist remains of the placental sac still clinging tenaciously to the area behind your ears. Kindly allow me to do the honors. Toward this undertaking, the first reason I will reveal to you is the embarrassingly small price tag hanging Minnie Pearl style from your Postal Pith helmet. Maybe not a buck ninety-eight like Minnie's, but pretty durn close.

In other words - you're cheap. The 16 dollars an hour you will be paid is significantly more cost effective than the near $27 they will have to compensate a regular craft employee with; to which they will also tack on an extra bump to Level 17 supervisor pay. Not only do you not get the bump, but you'll still be making your piddling sixteen clams for every revolution of the big hand on the clock.

But Mel - you exclaim when an outburst of outraged disbelief, certainly my supervisor pay as a CCA has to be equitable with what regular craft employees doing the same job are making, right? Anything else just wouldn't be fair!

In response I say welcome to the Post Office, a place where - along with your self-esteem and standards of decency I mentioned earlier, you're also going to have to check your expectations of fairness with the maitre d.

Your miserable $16 dollars an hour is going to persist like the dull ache you had in your shoulder when you were lugging the mail around. Furthermore, your former affectionate examination of your paycheck will turn into gasps of horror when you realize you're not getting overtime anymore, either. In all probability, local management will expect you to do your job in eight hours and be paid accordingly, despite all of your legitimate protests that this is just not possible. So there you'll be at 6:30 PM, the last lonely soul in a tomb-like building, running over to the time recorder to clock yourself out. After this you'll plod heavily back to the desk for another two or three unpaid hours, to continue processing the pile of mostly meaningless reports you're expected to complete before you go home.

The price tag hanging from your Postal CCA hat has upper management salivating at the prospect of moving you up to 204b.
The price tag hanging from your Postal CCA hat has upper management salivating at the prospect of moving you up to 204b. | Source

Reason Two: You're Gullible (not to mention scared)

As a fledgling City Carrier Assistant that still hasn't grown the wings the Postal Service expects to clip off, you continue to be somewhat overwhelmed by your surroundings. The Postal workroom floor is already a noisy place - orange hampers crashing noisily against metal APCs, lobster cages full of parcels slamming about in a raucous, dissonant chorus on the back dock, and 775 tubs full of letters and flats loudly smashing against the floor.

Now add to this the incessant ringing of the telephone, the ear piercing wail of delivery employees bedeviling you for guidance you don't have the experience to provide, and heartless, whip cracking managers demanding explanations for why you didn't finish doing their job 20 minutes ago, and you'll have an idea of the insane environment you will be immersing yourself into as a 204b.

As a newly hatched Postal baby who just popped out from the relatively peaceful place of the pre-Postal womb, sliding down the birth canal straight into the blinding reality of Postal existence, all of this noise is a shock to your system. It is designed to be. The deafening mayhem taking place all around you is deliberately tailored to confuse, disorient, not to mention scare the hell out of you. In this unhinged mental state, somewhat akin to being kidnapped or held hostage, you will do anything to cooperate with your captors. In order to ease the severe mental imbalance that you are going through, you might even convince yourself that you like them. This is called The Stockholm Syndrome. Look it up, it's real, and you don't have to be held prisoner at gunpoint to experience it.

No matter how badly your jailers treat you, of course you want to please them, because they have paid you this great honor of selecting you for the supervisor position. Because of this you will endure the ridiculously long hours they expect you to work, finish up the endless litany of tasks your boss has "delegated" to you while he goes home early, and tolerate the subtle, sometimes not so subtle insults directed at your ability to do the job. You'll put up with all of this, and more, because you want to reward the faith you think they put in you.

Furthermore, as a Postal greenhorn who has not read the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, you tremble in abject fear of what might happen if you speak out against your inhumane treatment. Not only will I be demoted to carrying mail again - your quaking soul whispers as you cower behind the computer in genuine fear that your hulking, bull headed station manager is about to throw something at you; but I might even be fired! As a newly hired CCA you have failed to take into consideration that you have recourse against unjust treatment, and your newbie naivete is exactly what Postal Management is banking on.


Reason Three: You're a convenient Fall Guy (Or Gal)

Another good reason for selecting a babe in the woods CCA like you to fill a supervisor's seat, is that you can be a convenient scapegoat when things run afoul. You're still new, you're not jaded and cynical yet, and as such you are probably much more likely to believe the sincere, honest intentions of your coworkers when they tell you to do something that seems a little sketchy.

For instance, I know a CCA 204b who loaned out her computer user ID and password to her fellow supervisors. Even though it shouldn't be, this practice is quite common in the Postal Service, an organization that loves to play musical chairs with supervisors, leaving them in a particular locale just long enough to become competent before moving them elsewhere. As a result, supervisors often do not have access to the computer programs they need to perform their jobs, which obligates them to borrow the login information of their coworkers.

While most of the time this practice is harmless enough, a password that falls into malicious, unscrupulous hands can have adverse consequences for the newbie that is coaxed into providing it. In the case of my CCA friend, her fellow supervisors were using her login to access the time and attendance system, in order to give themselves lucrative out of schedule pay. Of course the anomaly was noticed, and my CCA friend got in trouble. Not surprisingly, the actual perpetrators of the deed suffered from a severe bout of muteness about that time, and were more than willing to let my friend take the fall for them. Eventually she was able to exonerate herself, but the consequences could have gone way beyond being demoted back down to letter carrier - she could have lost her job completely for falsifying documents.

I have also seen a 204b demoted for curtailing mail that his station manager had been delaying for several days. She told this poor sucker specifically not to dispatch this mail for delivery, then left him running the post office by himself on a Saturday. Not surprisingly, an Inspector from the Operations Department showed up and found these huge piles of overripe mail stinking up the workroom floor. The station manager swore innocence, and I'll let you guess who got in trouble. Here's a hint - it wasn't the station manager.

Don't expose your 204b logon information to the powers of the dark side.
Don't expose your 204b logon information to the powers of the dark side. | Source

Rate Your Bosses!

How does the management behavior described here compare to your workplace (Postal or not)?

  • About the same - these brutes in suits are everywhere.
  • My job is better - My boss is as sweet as a kitten and I rejoice going to work every day.
  • My workplace is much worse - You don't know how good you've got it.
See results without voting

Parting Advice - Learn to swim with the Sharks

Now I have exposed you to the grim truth of why you have been asked to exchange your fashionable green, blue or purple Postal Jedi lightsaber for the tasteless red of a Postal Sith Lord - a color that clashes horribly with your tie or pants suit, by the way. Hopefully at this point you will be better armed to make a decision that will definitely affect your future peace of mind and livelihood in more ways than one. Although I do not envy you at all for your so-called promotion, allow me to impart another word or two of advice before you voluntarily turn yourself in at your local Postal Penitentiary.

DON'T BE MEEK! The meek will inherit the Earth, true, but Planet Postal is a completely different celestial body, in another solar system entirely. Your meekness has no power there, in those predator patrolled waters. The other sharks swimming around you on that murky, dismal, ecologically damaged postal reef can sense a single drop of blood in the ocean from several nautical miles away, they turn voracious at the merest whiff of weakness, and will rip you into shreds in a bloody, blurry feeding frenzy if you allow them.

Don't allow them. Stick up for yourself. Let your oppressors know you don't appreciate their abuse, and they will back off. They know they are wrong, and they know they can get in trouble for not giving you the respect you are entitled to as a federal employee. The biggest mistake a neophyte 204b makes is keeping quiet and not complaining about bad treatment, probably out of fear of being fired. But doing the reverse is better - if you show the bullies that you can bully back with the best you will be accepted into the fold all the quicker. These brutes in suits aren't really searching for people who are competent at their jobs, what they are really looking for is another co-conspirator they can count on to keep the time honored Postal tradition of despotic, tyrannical management behavior alive. If they see the potential for bullying in you, you'll be accepted into the club with open arms.

That doesn't mean you really have to be a bully, you can easily fake it and get away with it. If you dare to put into practice the oft-neglected technique of treating employees with respect, you'll be surprised how they will bend over backwards to help make you look good. The Postal higher-ups perusing your satisfactory results will then just assume you're a bully - it is not in their nature to conceive of achieving success being anything else. In this manner perhaps your soul, self-esteem and sanity just might survive the turbulent, chaotic ride through the Postal Dark Side.

Stockholm Syndrome - Okay, Postal 204b is not this bad but it's the same general principle

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Comments 47 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 4 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hey, Mel. I am not a CCA seeking advancement to a 204b position but after reading this hub I wouldn't want to be. If I was I would definitely want to read this first. I love the way you write and make a subject that shouldn't be interesting to anyone outside the Postal Service, a must read. Well done.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Jodah that is a high compliment because I always try to make my writing accessible to everyone. Thanks for dropping in!

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 months ago from Rural Arizona

Mel - I am happily retired and don't have to worry about any of this anymore.

What you describe in this hub is very parallel with what I experienced in the Corporate world. Either the USPS learned from the Corporate world or perhaps it was the other way around, but they are very similar.

With every hub you write I gain more respect for those who work for the USPS and endure these abuses on a daily basis. I am so glad they never bothered to get back to me on my job application when I got out of the Army.

Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 4 months ago from LOS ANGELES

Mel- This hub is truly entertaining. I laughed all the way to the last line. Being in the Postal business for 22 years certainly gives you credibility. Every time I see my mail carrier I think of your hubs.

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Over here in Sprung Valley I thought about this and decided it was time to give my wife/boss some attitude adjustment. This OT must be compensated.

Sure give me a title like dad and expect me to just include that in my normal duties!

Mills P 4 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

I don't think any of the choices in your quiz apply to my manager, but at least I have a guy who defends us. For years, I got an additional 75 cents per hour in a supervisory role without it being made permanent. When that spot was made permanent, I got that money - and then some. I may not have a glamorous life in the service sector, but at least I'm not shackled to some 60-year-old unjust and antiquated law that mandates no compensation for supervision. Further, $16 per hour doesn't match what I make. Thanks for reminding me of what I'm missing by not taking up the USPS with their offers of temporary employment around the time you launched your career there.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 months ago from New England

My wife is a postmaster , so I won't ask her to read this , but I've personally never experienced in my entire life the amount of cry babies as I've seen and heard of as in the postal system . Supervisor , postmaster , carrier , city or rural , temp , You should've gone into writing humor though , you're great at it ! ..............;-]

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Mike, it could have been the best job you never had. Sometimes the Postal Service is a death trap, and I am certain you were more successful and more prosperous because you didn't get the job. Thanks for reading, my friend.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Dana Tate, I hope your letter carrier doesn't wonder why you are looking at him funny. Give him a hug and a bottle of water and you'll have a friend for life. Thanks for reading.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Although the California labor laws are very liberal, Eric, unfortunately they do not apply to matrimony, from what I understand. You're just going to have to suck it up and do what she tells you to, I'm afraid. Thanks for tuning in from all the way over in the Sprung Valley, where the May Gray is getting ready to turn into June Gloom any day now.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Mills, not accepting a postal position is rarely a mistake. Sometimes it's a godsend. Some promoted postal supervisors do okay money wise, but 204b is a tough road to hoe. Thanks for reading.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

ahorseback, I have known Postal employees whose spouses say - Oh come on it can't be that bad, then they take a post office job and drop out in a week because they can't hack it. It's a different universe, and you have to try it yourself before you can truly assess whether all the whining is justified or not. Thank you for your very generous compliment, however. What the heck - let your wife read it, she might agree with everything. I'm sure in rising to the Postmaster level she went through hell, but obviously has a much more fire-resistant hide than I do.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This article was very enjoyable to read, Mel. It contains your usual combination of great entertainment and serious information. It also made me glad that I don't work for the postal service!

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

I'm sure biology is imminently more interesting than mail delivery Linda. You're in a good place, but I'm thrilled you stopped in to read!

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 months ago from New England

"Fire resistant hide ".......oh ya' thats her ! You're right , she has gone through a lot , the changes today, in at least the rural postal side, show me that there is no "one at the helm " . That the system is lowering it's standards unbelievably , willingly or not AND that postal unions are destroying America .......:-]

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

I'm not a postal employee. Never have been, never will be, but I can't help but get pissed when you write these articles because it reminds me of just how inefficient the Federal Government is, and it makes me wonder how they manage to have any efficiency at all when their heads are so far up their arses.

Thanks, as always, for the insight.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

It seems, Bill, that Postal management does its best to avoid efficiency when they assign people to supervisor jobs who have six months minimum in the postal service. Managers like to mold these youngsters in their own warped image, is all I can figure out, because they certainly don't know what they are doing. As usual, experienced letter carriers on the bottom of the food chain who interact with the public on a daily basis and know what it is going on save them from their dumb decisions. Thanks for dropping in.

kimbesa2 profile image

kimbesa2 4 months ago from USA

Thanks, Mel, for another entertaining hub about life and times inside USPS. So visual. I enjoyed peering into the Dark Side from a safe place.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Yes kimbesa, don't get too close or you might be trapped by the relentless tractor beam. Thanks a lot for dropping in!

Larry Rankin 4 months ago

Remember when a promotion was just a promotion and not an invitation to hang yourself:-)

Another interesting dive into the seedy underworld of postal work.

DDE profile image

DDE 4 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Postal work looks easy but on the inside has too many issues to deal with and with people too. You insight is informative and with a great touch of seriousness to not so serious mode.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Larry, promotion used to mean a significant improvement in income. Nowadays they pay supervisors a quarter an hour more, and people will line up to do the job. Maybe if my income had improved substantially I would grin and bear it, and still be doing the job. But it didn't, so I didn't see the point. Thanks for dropping in.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you Devika, I try to keep it light, because we have to laugh at ourselves a little to preserve our sanity. I really appreciate you dropping in!

Mlou LaRose 4 months ago

Thanks again Mel! I just love your stuff!!

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you Miou LaRose for dropping by and leaving the nice words.

Hal LaPorte 4 months ago

Hey Mel;

Why not discuss how you guys are fat catting while the clerks and carriers march to a different beat. Let's talk about pensions for Union Management along with the perks. Let's tell the general public how both sides are systematically adding to the demise of this organization. Let's talk about helping the workers and not helping ourselves to the cash cow. Bottom line until you are both removed from the equation this organization will continue to puke cash.

Will F. 4 months ago

I've been with the usps for 12 years. I was asked to get into management within 3 months. I said no, I need more time in order to learn the jobs and get respect from employees. I got a confused look and was told to go back to work and have never been asked again.

Racing3jb 4 months ago

Not until the PO cleans out uppermiddlemanagement I.E. Pooms will the job get any better. With unrestricted power and zero avenue for recourse these individuals can destroy anyone they feel like and never suffer any ill effects. They appear not bound to follow headquarter directives, but if you don't follow one of theirs LOOK OUT cause they are coming after you 30 plus years and I'd had enough of the BS. Good luck cause your gonna need it

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

I am a carrier Hal. 22 years. Did you read the article or just glance at the title and make assumptions? Not quite sure where you are coming from, you're a tad incoherent, but thanks for reading.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Will, you gave a reasonable, intelligent response, and that's why you have never been asked again. They certainly don't want people who can think for themselves. Thanks for dropping in.

Amy 4 months ago

I have joined the dark side. I'll tell you it not an easy job that's for sure. I started as a TE years ago. Being an experienced good carrier definitely makes it better. I always hated supervisors who have never carried!! But same as any job, people will always try to see how far they can push you. Same as carrying isn't for everyone... Management isn't for everyone. You need tough skin. As long as you know your job and relate with the carriers its great. There's always ups and downs with anything in life but if you are fortunate enough to get a good station with carriers who care and take pride in their job and try to motivate the ones who don''ll be OK. Its nice to be out of the elements. If you go into management just find who your good carriers are treat them right, and try to help the others and you'll be fine!

Sunny 4 months ago

Yes CCAs are easy targets for shorthanded postmasters, they want 40 hrs and they can get it. In our area the DM just sent down the edict that no more EAS/204b can get 50 hrs in one week. Haha...we know what this over and punch out at 48, then go back to the desk. Sadly I could see the truth in the words you write and myself wanted to send this article to younger me (although I wouldn't have listened I'm sure; I needed the hours!). This article also made me a little chafed at you for the expose. But then I had a talk with myself and discovered that in all honesty you had alot of frank words, not necessarily meant to scare one away from this world of non stop radiation, but to put all the cards on the table. I am in a position that I will use this as a reminder of what these folks are going through and be at the ready with a fire extinguisher to help them when they are smoking on the verge of combustion. Today I was assisting a new 204b CCA who is a bright light and has savvy with respect, and I couldn't help but admire her. I remember my training as a 204b back in the day, I went to ask my overwelmed 'mentor' a question and she threw a pen across the room and said "whaddyawant now!?!?" That is when I took my vow of hippocratic oath to have patience with any persons who need to come to me for guidance. I have taken it many times since as well! It's a journey! I would love to see an article on"The Good Ones" if you ever feel inspired to take pen..err hand. There are some good ones out there, and there are many in management who despite being inundated with district drivel do try to create better work places. I truly believe that it should be about the purpose and not the position. Its a two edged sword for sure, but it can be rewarding at times as well. Kudos to the postmasters spouse from orevious comments for reading and trying to understand what she goes through. I look forward to your next postal serenade. I will be lurking. :)

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you Racing. You're right, in the year and a half I did the job it was the Area Manager who was the source of most of my discomfort. Thanks for stopping by.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Amy when I did it I enjoyed interacting with the carriers. They weren't the problem, the problem was mostly constant, nitpicking micromanagement from above. Good luck as a Sith lord, thanks for the great comment.

Jimmy 4 months ago

Well my office must be a rare breed because they hardly work cca's and man do they get babied. Instead of them helping the regular carriers we end up helping them

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Ha Ha! Lying in wait will get you extra jail time in most judicial jurisdictions, Sunny.

There are some good ones out there, let's be fair, but they don't seem to rise as far as they should.

Maybe you will be the exception. You seem to have a sensitive soul, and I hope you don't lose it. I hope power doesn't get into your head, and I hope you don't catch the mindset of "this is our managers good old boys club, let's take a two hour lunch and complain about how lazy the slaves are." I actually worked for a manager that did that, and he used to drag me along so I would laugh at his inappropriate jokes. If there is one thing I feel bad about in retrospect, it is enjoying those lunches. It is very easy to fall into that attitude, and then you really do lose your soul.

Good luck to you Sunny. Stop by to read, write, or just lurk whenever you feel like it.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Our CCAs get worked pretty hard Jimmy, but sometimes regulars like me have to go help them. I don't think I've been rescued by a CCA yet, but I am getting older. Thanks for dropping in.

Peggy 4 months ago

Mel, I am Postmaster and I love you writing.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you Peggy. We need good Postmasters, and you sitting through this without being completely outraged must mean there is a spark of goodness in you. I appreciate you dropping in. All are welcome.

Perspycacious 4 months ago

Ahh, the struggles of the poorly compensated working class which typically, but not always, includes one of us veterans.

Well described and good advice not everyone will take.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

There are a lot of people who go into this on purpose, Perspycacious, and I don't think they would make it to the bottom of this article anyway. Thanks for dropping in!

Lawrence Hebb 4 months ago


This would be funny, if it wasn't so true! I think we've all been in these kind of jobs, the ones that sound great, I mean you're on a 'salary right?' So much better than a weekly wage right? Then you do the sums.

When I was on this I did the sums and realized if I took the actual hours I worked and divided my pay by that figure I was actually on less than the minimum wage!

Needless to say I didn't hang around in that job!

Great and entertaining hub, and I hope the rules change soon.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California Author

That's exactly what happened to me Lawrence. I'm a hard worker and I don't mind doing overtime, but working a fifteen hour day while only getting paid for 10 became extremely demoralizing. Thanks for reading.

Oldkat 2 months ago

My experience with the Postal Service is similar in many ways, but quite different in others

I've been with USPS for 29 years, the first 17 of which I work as a clerk in a plant and that is where many of the similarities are. Yes, far too many unqualified individuals get promoted for all the wrong reasons, and then remain untrained and unqualified for those same reasons, unqualified and untrained folks in positions above them. And I too tried my hand at the 204-B position, albeit in the production side of the business instead of delivery.

Since moving into a management position for the last 12 years I have gained a much better understanding of the workings of our upper management structure and that understanding does not change much about what has already been expressed in your article...except... there are always two side to every problem and that is what I feel has been left out of your article.

My peers and I all agree that the carrier supervisor position, which most 204-Bs operate within, is, with out question, the worst job in the USPS. You are overworked and under appreciated by your boss, and you are reviled and ridiculed by those you are tasked to manage. There is no "Win" in that position. The thing I feel most relevant, though, is that you never mentioned the workers. For my entire career I have observed those "Few" who make life impossible for the many and especially so for that middle-manager who has to deal directly with the day in and day out.

I have loved and hated my many jobs over the years, but I can honestly say that the job will always be what you make it.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 months ago from San Diego California Author

Oldkat, I can honestly say that during my tenure as a 204b, the only part I enjoyed was my interaction with carriers and clerks. Were there bad apples - certainly. But for the most part they worked hard for me. My Area Manager saw my numbers and thought I was a hardass, but I don't think any carrier or clerk who worked for me would echo that. Respect breeds enthusiasm breeds productive employees.

What I hated most sbout the job was constant micro-managing from upstairs. It's hard to make anything of a job when you aren't given any leeway to do so. Constant obsession with mostly irrelevant statical data is the downfall of this organization.

I thank you for reading. I appreciate the management perspective. I know quite well you have a stressful, mostly thankless job.

Mailman Bob 5 weeks ago

GREAT Read! I'm a 20 year City Carrier in NYC. I've been a 204b for the past year and a half. SPOT ON! Complete TRUTH! I couldn't agree more with everything written above. My experience is different from what could be a CCA's because I have time on the job. I do the job and I don't take shit from management, but I'm also a hard worker and I take pride in my work and enjoy the challenge of the position. The abuse thing doesn't fly in my court as I have more time and experience than most of the stupidvisors I work with. I'm one of those guys that is liked by Carriers because I am one and I treat them, and the job they do, with respect. I have locked horns a number of times with managers who claimed "You think too much like a Carrier!" Ultimately though, I do it for the money. Tons of overtime. Overtime I cannot get in craft. I'm at top pay so I make more money than the Supervisors I work with. I'm a level 17 for 8 hours after which I'm craft for the rest of the day. Beautiful thing. They get T time for slaving away, and I get time and a half and lots of PENALTY. Seems most Supervisors never reach top pay in their craft. I have been approached a number of times about open Supervisor positions and I pass them up. There is little incentive to leave 204b status and become a Supervisor as it would be a demotion for me. I'm just riding this wave until it crashes and then I'll move on possibly back to craft or another 204b position.

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Mel Carriere 5 weeks ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you Mailman Bob. It is great you are getting so much overtime, because they have eliminated overtime for supervisors here in our district, claiming that if supervisors worked efficiently they wouldn't need overtime. You and I both know that is complete BS. As a consequence, 204bs clock themselves out at the appointed time, then work an additional two to four hours to get the job done, unpaid.

Thank you for your great contribution to the discussion.

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