Sins Against the CCA (City Carrier Assistant) and How to Repent—Mel's Holiday Hints
Mel's Medicated Meditations for the Holiday Season
During the holiday season, I suppose it is customary for everyone, including letter carriers, to reflect and be thankful for what they have. I am not suggesting you thank the Postal Service for its largesse—after all, you have sacrificed the health of your muscles, bones, and joints at this organization's altar, but perhaps you could thank whatever higher power you subscribe to for your relatively decent job, with benefits and retirement, in this minimum wage economy. Again, you don't have to thank anyone, you have earned everything, I'm just offering some speech ideas for when you pop the cork and propose a toast around the holiday ham.
The holidays are also a time when we look down the barrel of the gun of another year ticking past, reflect upon our sins of the twelve months gone by, then resolve to make better people out of ourselves. I could use this cyberspace to conduct a philosophical discussion on the existence of God, the validity of religion, and the concept of sin, but I don't want to spark a jihad here on my humble soapbox. Instead, let us agree that if you aspire to be a good person, then regardless of religion you believe in the Spirit of Truth, and that is the definition of God in her or his many manifestations.
Enough of that. I see my drunken, wobbling holiday toast is already rambling, so I'll get to the point. My point is—Hell what is my point? My point is that we Regular City Letter Carriers—and you non-postal types can apply this to the treatment of underlings in your organization, tend to be mean to our City Carrier Assistants (CCAs). Maybe we don't consciously conduct ourselves in this negative fashion, perhaps our cruel treatment is just a moral justification for getting someone else to shoulder our workload—a sort of "I paid my dues now they have to pay theirs" mindset. While this attitude may appease your conscience while in the act of unfairly unloading your burden onto someone else, it is wrong and I think you know that.
So my unsteady proposal over this third bottle of wine, as my outstretched hand shakes and my wife gives me an evil stare, glaring at me menacingly as I threaten to sully her spotless tablecloth with spilled drops of the divine grape, is that during this holiday season we Regulars reflect upon our sins against CCAs, then vow to treat them better in the year to come.
From Ignorance to Enlightenment
Sin comes in many classifications and categories, mortal vs venial, sins of commission vs sins of omission, etc, etc, forever and ever amen. I don't think you have to be a theologian, or even believe in theology as a valid field of study, to know a sin when you see one. A sin is when we hurt someone, and that hurt is not done in self defense because that person is causing, or will cause us hurt.
Sins can be big, or sins can be little—Mortal vs Venial. I haven't heard of any CCAs being murdered by Regulars for delivering mail to vacant houses, and I certainly hope that is not happening. I think it is safe to assume that most of our sins against CCAs are of the venial variety, meaning they do not permanently damage the temple of the soul that CCA walks around in, or the ability to sustain that temple. But I would argue that some of our sins against CCAs tread the fine tightrope between between mortal and venial, like daredevil Philippe Petit bouncing on that high wire between the World Trade Center towers.
Commission vs Omission? Just because you didn't abuse the CCA by piling on an extra swing or two (commission) doesn't completely absolve you of guilt. Did you thank the CCA when he or she did a good job carrying your route during your vacation? Did you share the holiday gifts showered upon you with that CCA who covered your spot on long term opt, while you were out nursing your plantar fasciitis? Not doing these things damages the psyche of the diligent and deserving CCA in a small way, and that is as much a sin as giving him or her a two hour relay and calling it an hour.
Hmmm...I just thought of another sin of omission against the struggling CCA. How about when we don't draw a map or at least give directions for trouble spots on the route that might confound and delay our new little postal bundle of joy? The attitude of figure it out rookie is unacceptable, as bad as if you put a cat in a collection box assigned to them, by way of newbie initiation. Take the time to give the newcomers a little guidance, why dontcha?
You may have noticed, astute and gentle reader, that I often use the first person plural pronoun we, instead of the second person you, in describing sins against CCAs. This is because I am as guilty as anyone of these heinous acts, maybe more so, owing to the fact that - the pen is mightier than the sword...The words of the reckless pierce like swords...All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.
Yes, early on in the history of the CCA, I wrote some unjustified things about the newcomers. I was peeved that these wet behind the ears upstarts would take away all of my overtime (they didn't take away my OT) and because I thought the Post Office would never allow them to make regular, I implied in my ill-considered words that they didn't need to be treated like career employees (they are being promoted to regular).
I rend my garments in contrition for this sinful thoughtlessness. I beat my chest and chant mea culpa for my wrongdoing. I blog in sackcloth while rolling in ashes, but I won't go so far as self flagellation. In other words, I have repented. Now I accept CCAs as my little brothers and sisters. Because I train them too, I look upon some of them as my children. But I did not take those offending articles down. I left them up for you to read, to demonstrate my transition from ignorance to enlightenment.
Silence Is Not Always Sin
Having covered a couple minor but painful sins of omission, I will now deal with two sins of commission that are particularly irksome to me, and probably should also be to you, the Regular Letter Carrier.
Although I mentioned the sin of silence against CCAs, I am not implying that silence is always sinful. Although our duty as quality human beings is To speak the truth to the face of Falsehood, that doesn't mean all of the truth, all of the time, to everyone.
This sounds like a cop out, but let me finish. If the CCA leaves rubber bands hanging on your turn signal lever, if he or she does not fill your LLV gas tank over the weekend, leaving you high and dry on a busy Monday, if the CCA buckles the seat belt behind the seat, obviously signifying it was not in use during their stint in your postal vehicle, do these sins that have to be announced out loud to everyone, shouted from the rooftops?
A lack of silence could be sinful on your part, this time around. No you should not be completely silent, but don't storm off to complain to the supervisor about it. Instead, express your concern quietly, privately, to the offending CCA. If he or she blows you off, go to your shop steward and let them put some umpf behind it. The point is, let's keep this in house, let's admonish our brothers and sisters internally, set them straight without leveling up and jeopardizing their employment.
"Oh, but they have to be taught a lesson, it's for their own good!," you say. Is that true, or are you really saying that because you are A) On a Momma or Daddy Hen power trip, trying to throw your weight around, or B) getting revenge for past wrongs, because that no good CCA left an ice cream wrapper on your LLV dashboard last Wednesday.
Think before you tattle. Do some soul searching. Is this really life or death, or are you just getting even? Okay, a bottle of pee maybe, but a candy wrapper, come on!
The Art of the Stickaroonie
There are a lot of old timer Regulars very well versed in the art of the stick, which I call the old stickeroo, or stickaroonie. Call it what you want, a stick by any other name is still a stick, meaning you are going to stick it to that poor CCA. Whatever term you use it is bad, it is downright evil. No amount of holy water can rinse the stain of this sin off of you. If Hoover Dam was filled to the brim with holy water it wouldn't be enough to clean your sullied soul, you villain.
Here is how the stick works. Don't try to pretend you don't know how it operates, you fiends out there who practice this malfeasance. You give the CCA a half hour and it takes him, or her an hour. You give them an hour and it takes them an hour forty five.
"Oh, but I could do it in a half hour," you claim when they complain. "Liar," I say. If you can do those four heavy swings in half an hour, each with two bundles of DPS and a foot of flats, then you are Super Man or Wonder Woman and you obviously don't need the help.
But I am supposed to always give them what DOIS shows, you plea in your defense. Don't make me ill. The DOIS data is from your route walk, which occurred on a day the mail was light. At least that's the sob story you always give when they try to hold you to the time of your walk. So first you tell your supervisor the DOIS numbers are the Satanic Verses, but now you swear to the CCA that they are the gospel. Make up your twisted, plotting mind.
You got to change your evil ways, Baby. Be fair and give the CCA what it is going to take you, that day, with that mail volume. Bu-bu-but Mel I'm just acting according to postal policy, I'm supposed to give them what DOIS says. Okay, maybe you're right, technically, but I say there's a higher policy, the policy of truth and fairness, that is ultimately the one we will be judged by. I don't mean by some invisible avenger on an invisible glowing throne, surrounded by a choir of invisible angels. I mean in the here and now. What comes around goes around.
A few days ago a co-worker of mine, a frequent and skillful practitioner of the stickeroo, was rather smug and mirthful about how it took the CCA an hour to do his half hour, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, with DPS three times normal. I had to call him out and tell him what a jerk he was. This CCA was one of my trainees, one of my postal progeny. Don't abuse my children you a-hole.
Bottom Feeders - Really?
A friend of mine and I were just discussing my upcoming change to a successful bid. I have a painfully overburdened route for a guy my age and my buddy cannot believe I have punished myself with it this long. I don't know either—call it my postal penance for my own past sins of commission and omission, but I am about to be released from my personal postal purgatory and move on to better things, hopefully.
Anyway, during the course of this talk about vacating my route, my friend said, "I wonder what bottom feeder is going to get your old route now?"
Bottom feeder? Really? Ouch, what a slap in the face. In a quick little Freudian slip, he was equating me with "an aquatic animal that feeds on or near the bottom of a body of water." In other words, a loathsome creature that exists upon the discarded superfluous bodily secretions of those swimming higher up.
Unfortunately, this classification of newbies as bottom feeders is the attitude a lot of Regular Carriers have against those at the lower reaches of the totem pole, or those stuck in the lower circles of the postal inferno, I guess you could say.
But I say tread carefully upon that vestibule of hell. Let the words posted there—Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate (Abandon all hope ye who enter) be your stop sign. Your hell for sins against CCAs will not be a mystical, metaphysical one, some preacher's fire and brimstone in the afterlife. Hell can be right here on Earth, and usually is. Bad Karma breeds bad Karma. That CCA "bottom feeder" you stuck when he was an innocent babe in the woods, might find a way to stick back when he is a more savvy Regular.
Don't wait for auld lang syne to get your act together either, that festive time when you toast the New Year with meaningless resolutions made under the influence, resolutions that will probably be flushed away with the other effluvium of your January 1 hangover.
Nobody is saying you don't need help, you old Postal warhorse you. We all know routes are getting increasingly piled onto, street times are going up, and your body is breaking down in direct proportion. But don't break down the young pack mule who rides in to assist the old one. Be of good cheer, approach the brutal holiday season in a spirit of generosity, not animosity, and the fertile field you sow will bear the fruit of goodwill among CCAs. Then you can bake that into your fruitcake, next Christmas.