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So You Want to Be a Mailman: The CCA Experience

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

The life of a CCA might sound hard, but make no mistake—it's even harder than it sounds!

The life of a CCA might sound hard, but make no mistake—it's even harder than it sounds!

The 4 Main Drawbacks of Being a City Carrier Assistant (CCA)

WARNING: This article is not sugar-coated! The reason why I am being so deliberately careful not to apply the confectioner's touch to this article is that the United States Postal Service has been laying on globs of sugar to the CCA (City Carrier Assistance) experience in an attempt to keep some of them. For this reason, I feel it is my duty to counteract the propaganda so that these candidates will know what they're really up against.

For the uninitiated among you, the CCA is a non-career letter carrier that is paid a highly reduced wage. Unlike career postal employees, the CCAs are not guaranteed hours and are often instructed to stay home when the delivery units at which they are employed have a full complement of letter carriers. Also, in contrast to career letter carriers, a CCA may be removed at any time during the employment period for "just cause," a term that basically means any whimsical, arbitrary reason that strikes a postal manager's fancy, such as not laughing at one of his jokes or refusing to come to work with a broken leg.

Furthermore, there seem to be no safeguards in place to guarantee an equitable allocation of hours for CCAs. If your manager likes you, you'll get called in, but if he doesn't, prepare yourself for another long, boring day of watching soap operas after sleeping all night by the phone in your postal uniform.

Not surprisingly, the CCA workforce has been dwindling away like a submerged cow carcass being torn to pieces by piranhas, and I imagine that record cold temperatures across the country have not helped matters. Tolerance for miserable postal working conditions seems to be directly proportional to the amount of money earned, and a regular carrier making $27 per hour at a guaranteed 40 hours per week will naturally tolerate more than a CCA making an unsteady $15. Is it any wonder that the CCAs are abandoning the postal ship in droves?

So you really want to be a mailman? As I made abundantly clear in my opening statement, I am going to give you the reality of what you will be up against in this job, things that the Postal Service will not tell you in training, in which they make the day-to-day drudgery of a City Carrier Assistant seem as glamorous and exciting as the life of a fashion model, minus the self-induced vomiting. But I intend to tell you the full, uncensored truth by exploring four of the biggest negatives you will encounter in your postal life. If there is to be any vomiting, it will not be self-induced but will be directly related to the nausea-inducing subjects that I am going to talk about.

Contrary to popular belief, some dogs are postal-approved, mailman-friendly models.

Contrary to popular belief, some dogs are postal-approved, mailman-friendly models.

1. Dogs

When people learn that I am a letter carrier, the first question they always ask is, "How do you handle all the dogs?" The public assumes that when someone joins the Postal Service, it is the beginning of a non-stop running battle with the canine set, like Charlton Heston going through a time warp and landing on the Planet of the Apes, except that the dominant species are dogs and letter carriers have been enslaved by them and put in cages. This makes an interesting idea for a Hollywood script, but it is not altogether true.

Indeed, there are dangerous dogs out there, but they are the least of our four dangers. You will walk away unscathed from canine encounters as long as you make a lot of noise when entering yards so as to draw out any stealthy pups lying in ambush, and you use your satchel and spray to ward off attacking mongrels like an exorcist uses his crucifix and holy water to keep the devil at bay. You might even find that a lot of the dogs are friendly, and giving them a pleasant pat on the hand or a scratch behind the ears can actually make your day go by more pleasantly (disclaimer: not a postal-approved practice).

So you think you're ready to brave the elements?  Good luck trying to talk your boss out of it.  Here, mailman Bill Margo trudges through deep snow in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

So you think you're ready to brave the elements? Good luck trying to talk your boss out of it. Here, mailman Bill Margo trudges through deep snow in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

2. Weather

What do I know about the weather? I live in Southern California, where if it dips below 50 degrees, we bundle up and chop down our palm trees for firewood. But I do communicate with other letter carriers across the country via social media, and let me tell you, folks—outside of California and Florida, it's damn cold out there. I can't tell you anything about this from personal experience, but good luck trying to deliver the mail when your crisp digits are all bundled up in thick padded gloves and you are slipping and sliding on the snow and ice.

Furthermore, bad weather is not just restricted to the frosty wintertime. Carriers in Indiana give me a disbelieving cyber-stare when I tell them we have not received a single drop of rain in San Diego in the month of July, while over there, they consider themselves fortunate if they can get through a single day without a heavens-splitting deluge of Biblical proportions. And when you're not trying to dog-paddle your way through a rainstorm or sled through a raging blizzard, you can look forward to record-breaking heat. When it's 95 degrees with 80 percent humidity on a cool East Texas day, you'll be wondering what kind of insanity was spinning through your brain when you answered that postal ad.

Don't try to complain about the weather to your supervisor because they don't care. Yes, maybe right now they're dry and comfortable sitting behind their desk, ordering you out into the cold and rain, but chances are, they paid their dues at some point, and they don't want to hear about your problems. Don't whine about the weather to the other carriers, either. They've been dealing with it for years and somehow survived to old age, and there's no reason why a young crybaby like you can't keep your mouth shut and get to work.

3. Darkness

Mailmen are like vampires these days because we absolutely thrive in the darkness. At one point in the not-too-distant past, we were not such nocturnal creatures, but then the postal brain-trust made the uninspired decision to eliminate a large portion of the clerk workforce. This lack of clerks led to the problem of late mail distribution, which resulted in later start times for carriers.

My previous start time of 7:30 has now been moved to 8:30, meaning that I finish an hour later. I have worked so much in the darkness this year that I am beginning to become efficient at it. It used to be that one set of batteries in my headlamp would get me through the winter, but I have already changed the batteries once this year, and I think I have to put in a new set this Monday. You can add "mailman" to your list of frightening things that go bump in the night.

Perhaps I am making light of the situation, but nighttime mail delivery can have serious, lethal consequences. This is the reason I am dedicating this post to Tyson Jerome Burnett, a letter carrier who was shot and killed in Cheverly, Maryland, on November 23rd while delivering mail in the darkness. Tyson was a CCA who was delivering on an unfamiliar route. To add insult to this lethal injury, Tyson had previously been a THE making $22 dollars an hour, but at the time of his death had already undergone the forced conversion to CCA at the greatly reduced hourly wage of $16. Tyson's fate is sad proof of the pitifully inadequate compensation given to postal employees who often risk their lives in appalling working conditions.

Tyson was not the only victim of a lethal night-time encounter that year. On December 20th, a Boston-area letter carrier was shot during a robbery attempt that took place shortly before 7 p.m.—a good two hours after sunset. During the robbery, the letter carrier was also bludgeoned in the forehead with a handgun. Fortunately, this postal worker got away with his life, unlike Tyson, who was not so fortunate.

Besides the unsavory criminal element that often uses the night as a concealing blanket for illegal depredations, the darkness is also fraught with other dangers. The foremost of these, from the letter carrier's perspective, is hazardous footing. Trying to read the mail and negotiate one's way between mailboxes in the darkness is a dangerous enough proposition, but when you add slick wintertime footing to the equation, it creates a synergistic effect whose hazardous probabilities are way beyond the scope of my limited mathematical skills.

The mercy rule in certain amateur sports definitely does not apply to mail delivery.

The mercy rule in certain amateur sports definitely does not apply to mail delivery.

4. There Is No "Mercy Rule" in Mail Delivery

As a CCA, your supervisors are not only going to work you to the limits of your human endurance, but once they finally do push you to the point of physical breakdown, they are likely to fire you when you skip work and go to the doctor. Although the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) will fight to get your job back, even if you are reinstated, management can use the somewhat shady doctrine of "just cause" to dismiss you for any reason, which they may be more inclined to do now that you have landed on their bad side for the crime of demonstrating your human frailties.

As a case in point, about a month ago, I was sent to help a CCA who was working late on the street. When we both returned to the office a little while later, I noticed that she was barely hobbling along, and so I said to her, "What's wrong? You're walking just like me." I have an arthritic ankle that, in certain conditions, acts up and causes me to walk with a limp.

In response, she staggered over to where I was standing and lowered her sock. To my horror and amazement, she then showed me a spot where a bone was separating from the rest of her foot. The pressure of the protruding bone was beginning to stretch the skin to its limits, and although I'm no medical doctor, even with my limited layman's knowledge, I knew that this could not be good.

All the same, this young lady was still forcing her way along for fear of losing her job by failing to show up to work. At that point, she had worked ten days straight, and because CCAs now deliver packages on Sundays for Amazon as well, there was really no complete day of rest for her in sight. But because her husband is unemployed and she needs to support her small family, she continues to limp her way along, struggling her way through postal hell with the constant terror of breaking down completely and finding herself minus a job.

It's amazing that in this 21st century, in a supposedly enlightened time far removed from the miserable industrial conditions of Charles Dickens' England, workers are still being forced to work themselves to the point of physical breakdown. But if you elect to be a postal CCA, these are the conditions that you're going to be exposed to, and you're probably just going to have to tough them out if you really want to be a mailman someday. Mercy is not in the postal supervisor's vocabulary, and physical failure is not an option.

The Takeaway

So, if you still really want to be a mailman after all the gruesome details I've bombarded you with here, I wish you the best. But if you do elect to persist in this madness, please don't come back and blame me later when you find that the working conditions and low CCA wages are not to your liking. You certainly cannot accuse me of sugar-coating it for you. You have been duly warned, and I wash my hands of the results.

Making a Difference

After-dark mail delivery is dangerous for letter carriers, and quite frankly, the American public deserves better customer service. We were able to get over 1,000 supporters for the petition below to help put an end to this practice.

Help Stop Dangerous Delivery After Dark

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.


Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 06, 2019:

Furthermore, Julie, when I wrote this post in December of 2013, the wage rate was $16 an hour.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 06, 2019:

Happy for you Julie, but the exception does not prove the rule. Good luck on your CCA career.

Julie on September 06, 2019:

I don’t know where you have worked as a CCA...but I am one I get $18 per hour and I always get’s hard to get a day off!! My management is great we have a union steward at the office management can’t just get rid of you...just because!! This post couldn’t be farther from the truth!!! I love my job as a CCA!! This post is crap!!!

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 23, 2018:

Thank you Tim. What happened to Tyson was tragic. Delivering mail at night is an unavoidable part of being a letter carrier, but there are certain areas I think that have to be curtailed after dark for safety reasons. I appreciate you checking in.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on September 22, 2018:

Hi, Mel,

I read your article recognizing that the "just cause" action which managers can take at the post office is no better than being in a "work first" state. It's atrocious what mail carriers have to endure.

I have noticed some of my mail carriers delivering at night, and I always wave to them. They tend to be very nice people, and my dogs really like our mail carriers.

This is a very well written article, and although I've never considered becoming a mail carriers, I certainly will refer a friend of mine to this so she can get some insight on what's involved. My prayers are with Tyson's family.

Thank you.



Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 21, 2018:

Thank you AB. I really appreciate you dropping in. I don't know about LA, but here it is taking 2-3 years to make regular. Think about it carefully before you make the leap. Sounds like you have a good gig right now.

AB on September 20, 2018:


Also thank you Mel. Your articles are very interesting and i really enjoy them!

AB on September 20, 2018:

I was just offered a CCA position in Van Nuys, CA. I am still not sure if I will take it. I will probably go to orientation and see. I currently get paid $15.50 and have AMAZING benefits and a schedule that can't be beat. (Mon-Fri 7am-3:30) I have 2 kids so getting off work early is something i'll miss. The reason I am considering the USPS is they have a possibility to move up. Also the pension! Any LA CCA's that can give me an idea of how long it takes to make carrier?

Levather Seymour on July 13, 2018:

Looking to be a mail carrier.

Arturo on July 07, 2018:

Hi Mel, Thank you for your article, but I am already 40 some days in, I knew that the 40 hours were not going to happen, But I least I tought I had my schedule or change have enought to try plan B for that day, but so far has not been the case.

I am open and with the attitude to work hard, learn and improve with repetition, but its on, off and on again is not straight forward like they say. Enjoy you San Diego Weather! :)

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 03, 2017:

As a CCA you are going to get full time and then some. Christmas time, are you kidding? Think about it carefully, a postal job can be a dream killer. Take the couple bucks an hour less if it is something more in line with your goals in life.

JackO on October 27, 2017:

Hey Mel,

I stumbled across this fine article while looking for the "CCA experience" after getting offered an interview. It'd be close to you in the Encinitas/north county coastal region.

I've got a bird in the hand for a couple bucks an hour less. Would you recommend the two birds in the bush (CCA opportunity)? Think I may get full time hours in Encinitas? That's something I do fear.

BooBoo on October 15, 2017:

I'm honestly looking for information about people with diabetes working as mail carriers...

OneouttaKansas on September 11, 2017:

I was a CCA. It was hard. I nearly died, not because of the job, but it didn't help. I survived. I'm a career employee and I have found that some of the things they had me do as a CCA helped me for when I became a career employee. It is freakin' boot camp. But, the choice is ultimately yours. New bargaining contract has just come out and the NALC has fought hard for CCAs. If you are a CCA or are considering becoming one, join the union. They will be an ally when you feel like you're up against the almighty. You do get thrown in at the deep end, but eventually the water gets shallower - you just have to learn to swim and don't be afraid to ask questions. Also, regarding issues pertaining to working at night and any other health or safety concerns, take it up with the union and safety stewards. Get them to push for change. Nothing changes when we just moan to ourselves about it. As a regular carrier on the overtime list, do I like my job? Most days I do. I think most people have bad days at just about any job.

Kevo33 on June 05, 2017:

I got selected as a CCA. Orientation and training should be coming soon. Excited for this and will keep an open mind, from the outside looking in it looks like an enjoyable job. Obviously, after reading all these comments it's not for everyone. We'll see how it goes!

Conflicted_CCA on June 04, 2017:

I've been a CCA for about 6 months. I recently learned that it would be 5 to 6 years before I would make regular/career. I've been weighing whether to stay or go. I love being a CCA, but what I hate is that no one keeps the regulars accountable. In my office we have some regulars that only work 3 or 4 days a week, and then give off 2hr to 3hr pivots when they are working. I have a route that I consistently carry (it's just shy of a full route by 30 minutes). I bust my behind/almost running to save time in hopes of being able to get off early. (I currently get no days off (days off usually get denied) and due to all the pivots i work to about 6pm everyday). The faster you work, the more work you get. I'm bitter because some of the regulars do not even try to complete their route. We have had a lot of light mail days and they will give away 2 to 3 hrs on their route first thing in the morning (which makes no sense to me). I voiced my opinion about keeping the regulars accountable and I was told that "I am a CCA/assistant and that my job is to help regulars do their route. That the only reason I have a job is to assist them." That bothers me, because there is a difference in helping someone and getting screwed over. I've been given pivots so others can get their hair done, go to a luncheon at their kids school, or get ready for a bbq they are having at their house. It's just absurd that no one keeps them accountable. I have personally seen some of the regulars chilling at restaurants (more than 30 min) while I'm walking my route. Then have the supervisor call me later in the day and tell me to go get 2 hrs off them so they can be back by 430pm. I love the job, just don't like the unfair treatment or lack of accountability. I want to keep my job, but don't know if I like the culture that has been built at this office.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 28, 2017:

What kind of piece of used piece of paper do you feel like, Spiderman? If it is the personal hygiene variety, then you have real problems. If it is wrapping paper, where your manager wants to wrap you up and send you as a gift to another station, then you still have problems, but not as bad. It is crazy, but hang in there.

SpidermanCCA on March 27, 2017:

I have been with the post office for a lil more the a year and i feel like a use piece of paper. They move you around to other stations as they need help. Some managers talk to you any kind of way and think that you are not suppose to say anything back. It just be crazy at times.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 17, 2017:

LRR79, is there any chance your current job will take you back is you don't like it or can't cut the mustard? Can you take a leave of absence so you have a parachute when or if the Postal Plane crashes?

I wish I had a perfect answer for you. Some people fit right in. Others have problems adjusting. If you are in a bad weather state, especially one of brutal winters, the adjustment process is worse. If you are trying to be a Palm Tree Postman like me, the adjustment process is a lot easier.

Good luck on whatever you decide. If you decide to take the plunge, let us know how it goes.

LRR79 on March 17, 2017:

Hi -- stumbled upon this post when researching what it's like to be a CCA.

I am currently working in the private sector, but there are company and departmental reorganizations to the point that employee morale has been really low and am thinking of quitting and becoming a CCA. I have a second test due next week.

I've read all the cons and the few pros, i.e. if you put your mind to it, you can survive this. I still an undecided whether I should apply or just stick it out in my boring and unhappy existence in the corporate world until something better comes along.. Any advice would be great. Thanks.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on January 28, 2017:

I think everybody agrees it is hard work, Anonymous, and you one has to be able to work unsupervised, because there is nobody out there to give you guidance. Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous on January 28, 2017:

The CCA position I had was downright awful. ZERO TRAINING of designated route - thrown to wolves for production. Finally made it back to office by 4:15pm, only to be set out again to complete 1.5 hour mission for their overall lack of staffing. CCA's are used and abused to the fullest extent.

Beware - this is a 16.00 p/h position - with NO real bene's. Be prepared to work 12.00 hour days 6 days a week, if not more.

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

Hmmm... Who told you you are going to be moving slow as a CCA, Mr. or Mrs. Turned? It certainly wasn't me. As a CCA they are going to be riding you harder than ever before, and now with mail hanging from your shoulder. Somebody has been giving you weird advice. All told, I think you are making a smart move because as an RCA you'll make social security before regular. Thanks for reading. Also, as a CCA you will never carry on the rural side again, or vise versa. Big time grievance.

RCATURNEDCCA on December 29, 2016:

I have spent the last 3 years as a rca and it has it's ups and downs. The worst part is how long it takes to turn regular so I decided to cross crafts because cca's turn regular faster. Reading all the comments I hope that I'm making the right move. If you're a carrier then I believe you can carry on either side but having to move slow to make time when being accustomed to moving fast to stay under to make evaluated time is going to be a big change.

CCA Rural Oregon on December 22, 2016:

Run. As fast as you can. Away from the postal service.

For once, the comments section and forums are true.

It does not get better.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on December 12, 2016:

Why don't you give it a try Kelli? Some people adapt well and they enjoy the semi-autonomy being outside the constant vigilance of a supervisor gives. Try it a couple weeks and then decide. Good luck whatever you do.

Kelli on December 12, 2016:

I've applied, done the testing, and I'm supposed to interview tomorrow for a CCA position. After reading this blog and others, I'm pretty sure I won't be accepting the position if I'm offered one. I really appreciate everyone on here being candid and truthful about what to expect. I will be going to the interview anyway just to keep an open mind but I've decided it's not for me. Thanks for all the info and the advice!

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

Thank you Mickey. The rise of on line shopping means a lot more packages than we used to have, and our routes are not adjusted accordingly. Management tries to sell us on the theory that the packages deliver themselves. Thanks for reading.

Mickey on December 02, 2016:

Great article, and so true. I retired as a city carrier nineteen years ago. When I started we reported at 6:30 a.m. That was changed to 7:00 a few years later. As a regular carrier, I never worked in the dark, although one or two hours overtime was common. Over the past week my own mailman has arrived between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Ridiculous and absolutely no excuse for it. Again, a great article!

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

Ray, why don't you just try it? If you read through the comments, you can see that some people actually like it, and it's not a long road to regular. Thanks for reading and good luck!

Ray on October 26, 2016:

Reading your blog has made me question my decision to become a CCA. Im supposed to start in 2 weeks, and now have serious reservations about it. Thank you for the brutal honesty, and damn you for the added confusion.

In other words, please continue the blog.

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

Come up for air dude. FF I am happy you got out and went to school. I know you are frustrated by your bad experience, but you might consider some commas and periods in your future writings. Thanks for reading, good luck.

Ff on October 22, 2016:

As well with the uniform situation they do not issue those as the are supposed to, management is really foul they treat the employee of the postal service as if everything they must do for the employees comes out of their personal finances.. People really need to grow up and stop deceiving people there is really nothing positive about the post office at all and I'm not just saying this in ignorance or revenge I've been homeless and without nothing and thought the post office could change my life and in a way it has it made me go to school and obtain a degree because I thought deeper and it shows the way a job can treat its employees (like nothing but a number) especially when the employer does not require a degree of some sort. On top of that the post office knows they are one of the only jobs paying 16.06 an hour that does not require a degree or certification of some sort which makes it worse because there are a ton of people who don't know anything about the post office and or the life as a mail carrier.. Truthfully the only thing good is the over time but then it's not because as a CCA you don't have the choice on if you want to work it or not as well they can force regulars but do everything they can not to and it really becomes not worth it when you realize that management is stealing from you and the union, management, and EEO for the post office are all allies.. Management has to accept whatever comes from the union as well as EEO to put things into affect. It's like trade off (you do something for ill do something for you) but it has to be worth it for management because either way EEO consultant get paid to handle situation regardless if they are resolved or not and the union gets paid to file grievances regardless of if the matter gets resolved or not. So management must get something beneficial from it.. All these situations that are being talked about by everyone here has been reported to the union or EEO right? Well tell me when does management truly ever get in enough trouble where they will change their behaviors or make them more responsible towards their jobs at work? You make a wrong move as a CCA no matter if you past your 90 days or in your 90 days and your way of living or livelihood (your job) is on the line!! It unfair.. As I said not saying this because of my personal feeling towards the post office etc I'm saying this because every person who has carried mail has experienced wrong doing in some way shape or fashion and have to worry about their jobs whereas management when they screw up they continuously get promoted. And as a carrier no other carrier is going to stand up for others when they hope the treatment isn't inflicted upon them. Management has many ways of getting around things especially when it comes to retaliation. Management can have a carrier past their 90 days sitting at home for just cause reasons in which they have refused settlements and now the matter is going to arbitration and even then if they bring you back to work they do not have to pay you for the time you sat at home because more than likely you'll file for unemployment and you won't get paid for sitting at home unless it's through unemployment and if unemployment does pay you and they bring you back unemployment is going to expect you to pay back all your benefits because it is then seen as you were never unemployed to begin with.

Ff on October 22, 2016:

One thing I have not seen anyone post on here as far as concerns is how you work for an organization and you have to keep track of your hours. Yes the post office management treat people all these horrible ways and so forth they mess with your hours. I've been a cca for over 2 years in Columbus Ohio gahanna station and every pay period I've been shortened 200-300 dollars every pay I told my union stewards within my station about matter fact even the union president and all they told me was keep track of my hours I started doing that carrying a note pad around and management has moved me to a different station after me doing this. I thought the post office was the ideal job as well as career and it has hurt me physically mentally and emotionally they way other people treat other people along with the workload of being told to do thing in a time limit that is impossible.. Just responding not looking for a response just thought I'd add, could go on all day but I'd wrather not waiste any more of my time or life on the post office. I walked away from the job some of what your going to deal with is sort of worth it long as your get compensated financially but I promise after people start keeping track of their hours and realize management steals from them they won't have any problem walking away.. We go to work to make money to provide for our families and pay our bills not to get stole from and have our checks shortened.

Bey Meadows on October 22, 2016:

So I have to work for three months before being issued a uniform or take a hand me down from someone else who has gotten their shirt dirty and sweaty? Please, sign me up! Pass. What other job in the public eyes doesn't supply informs? UPS, Fedex, DHL, Police Officers etc. do so. Is this not the Federal Government? You can supply your employees with uniorms from day one. And the type of light I had is irrelevant, doesn't change the job and the undue stress caused by management. It's not a good job specifically for CCA's no way to slice it. As I was told by a supervisor befofe leaving one night, it's a job for the desperate, they should put that in the job description. Current job doesn't require perfect spelling so I'm doing just fine. Neither does this blog as you got my point.

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

If you would have bought a Cole Major instead of a Cole Minor light you would probably still be working. Also, the postal service does provide uniforms after three month probation is over. In the meantime, old timers in the station are usually willing to part with a shirt or two. Thanks for trying, Bay. I hope your next job doesn't require spelling.

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

gaCCA your wisdom is refreshing. I hope you make regular soon. Thanks for dropping by.

Bey Meadows on October 22, 2016:

Also, the severity of the job depends on where you deliver. I worked in South Bay delivering in the city's of Manhattan Beach and El Segundo and those areas got tons of mail and lots of parcels from Amazon, Ebay, and other forms of E-commerce. I've been told that differs from lower class areas who don't do as much online ordering and don't receive as much mail in general. Still, very physically demanding. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone! I had a home, cars, and multiple other bills and still ended up leaving after a couple of months. I've been out as late as 11pm delivering mail and had police called on me (thanks USPS for not providing uniforms) only to return to the office to be ridiculed. I cannot stress enough to folks how bad of a job this is. Do anything else except becoming a CCA!

Bey Meadows on October 22, 2016:

Don't forgot they don't issue uniforms, you have to buy them on your own. Something to remember when you're out at 8 and 9 pm with your Cole Minor light around your head and getting funny looks (or police called on you) for entering someones yard in plain clothes.

gaCCA on October 20, 2016:

I have been a CCA in a small town for a year now and my instructors were all CCAs or Letter Carriers prior to their current positions. NONE of my training was sugar coated and we were constantly reminded of the hazards of working as a CCA. I love my job. Yes, its physically demanding because of the extensive heat I endure during my few hours of the day; and mentally draining because of our timed schedules that I work hard to maintain. But it's the people I work with and my customers that keep me coming in to work even if I'm being paid $10 LESS than EVERYONE in my office. THAT totally sucks, but the area I work in doesn't allow for very many jobs to even PAY that amount so I'm content at the moment. I find that you cant please everyone and someone is bound to dislike you and try to make your life hell at work, but that's what the NALC is for. It's not a perfect system, but carriers need to utilize their union more often to assist them when, say there route is overloaded or they feel their postmaster is being unfair. I'm grateful to you for giving potential employees a REAL glimpse into the position so they know what they are signing up for. Hopefully that will ensure we get quality carriers and not the ones that get caught by the media dumping mail!

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

I'm glad you got some use out of it Katie. Good luck to you during the application process and beyond. Let me know how it goes.

Katie on October 20, 2016:

You sir, are a gentleman & a scholar. I am most appreciative of this post! I just did an application a good 45 minutes ago and have received an email stating instructions to do the first test. I got into the habit of researching job reviews after being young and dumb and looking for jobs on Craigslist that were scams 90% of the time. (If it sounds too good to be true it usually is) ;) This has helped tremendously with the decision of whether or not I should pursue a career as a CCA.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 19, 2016:

That's what I am hear for Jay, to teach people a dose of reality before they take the plunge. Professional and organized have nothing to do with the Postal Service, but you can make it work if you try. Thanks for reading.

Jay on October 19, 2016:

Hey Mel, it indeed get a little better as time goes... (still looking for other jobs though). Just want to comment that as of today, my station which has 5 CCA (myself being the newest CCA) is now down to 2. The OJI who trained me said this is normal. I on the other hand do not, this is what I believe will happen when people are mislead into a job that was supposed to be professional and organized.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 13, 2016:

Sorry to hear that Jay. Give it a little while, maybe you'll get a feel for the area and things will click. Thanks for reading.

Jay on October 12, 2016:

So... fresh from the oven as a CCA, started my first day at work in Seattle solo (just finished the OJT) and it is brutal! For me, it's not about the lifting or physical work but mainly finding the houses and to finish by 5pm. So many houses lack visible adress signs or house with front door/mailbox on another street than as listed. So many things that you will NEVER know if it's on your first day on that route AND they expect you to finish by 5pm. Definitely looking for a new job for me... sadly I was in the super sugar coated orientation, lots of BS when I got on the job, and training was horrible... 3 days is not enough to pass on the info.

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

You should get your own blog, Banning. One thing I would take contention with you over is your assertion that you can refuse work because you are "tired." Family emergencies or illness are one thing, but you cannot refuse a supervisor's direct order to carry that extra 45 minutes just because you are tired and want to go home. They can walk you off the floor for an extended, unpaid vacation for that, and as a CCA it will be a struggle for the Union to get you your job back. Even as a regular of 23 years, I get sent back out to do extra work all the time, and I don't beg off because I am "tired." You have to do it.

In other words, CCAs, ALWAYS obey a supervisor or manager's direct order unless it is unsafe, and then if you think the contract has been violated, contact the Union and file a grievance. This includes coming in to work your day off. Yes, you are entitled to a day off, but if they tell you you have to come in, you have to come in. This even applies to regulars. During the Christmas season, there are regulars that work seven days a week. They pay you time and a half or double time, depending on how many hours you have worked for the week.

I appreciate your enthusiasm, Banning, but don't lead the sheep astray. Unless you are being ordered to do something unsafe, you have to obey your supervisor's orders.

Banning on October 09, 2016:

I'll be honest, this blog covers it all pretty well. The CCA position, of which I've held for about a year now, is easily one of the worst jobs I've ever had. The pay is great, don't get me wrong. Even at just $16 an hour, the overtime makes it worth it. However, once you get past the paycheck, there isn't much to like about the job. Now, I've had a hold down for about 6 months now, so my daily routine is pretty set, at least as far as my route goes. However, auxiliary time is a daily thing, so even having a hold down on one of the longest and most brutal walking routes at my station doesn't protect me from getting that extra hour and a half of mail each day. But carrying mail isn't all that bad, so let me tell you what really makes it bad for me.

Now, to be fair, my supervisors and station manager are very respectful towards us CCAs. I've read stories about hostile managers screaming and threatening CCAs, but giving credit where credit is due, our leadership team doesn't do that. No, the screw over comes in other forms. Such as the constant change of schedules, days off being taken away or changed at the last minute, getting sent back out over and over again because lazy people keep bringing mail back... etc etc.

So, I toughed out my first 90 days, and then I learned something, something that might be useful to other new CCAs here. Guess what folks, we are all adults. No one can make you do anything you don't want to do, and if you know how the rules can work in your favor, you'll find that your time as a CCA can be manageable. So, here are a few tips to help you keep your job and your sanity.

First of all, as a CCA you are entitled to one day off a week an minimum. The postal week runs from Saturday to Friday, and in that time you are entitled to at least one day off. You may have to demand it, but remember, you cannot be forced to work more than 6 days in a row.

Next, you can't be worked more than 12 hours, and that includes your lunch break. At the 12 hour mark, you can bring your mail back and there is nothing they can do about it. This information can be found in the CCA handbook.

You cannot be kept on stand-by. This is also in the handbook. You supervisor must either schedule you and put you to work, or leave you alone. They can't tell you to stand by your phone and wait for them to call you. This also applies on your day off. You cannot be 'forced' into work if you weren't scheduled. They might try to use lies or intimidation to get you in, but honestly, they have no means to enforce this. Furthermore, there is nothing that states you are required to even answer your phone for them. Unless the P.O. issues you a government phone that they pay for, they have no scope or cause to demand that you answer your personal phone, even during the work day. In other words, if it isn't issued, you don't have to use it for work purposes.

You can call out. Trust me, that 1-888 number can be your best friend. Don't go overboard with this, but it can be useful from time to time if you really need an extra day off.

You can also just say no. Disobeying a direct order can wind you up in trouble, yes, but you also have to understand that the supervisors are anticipating that you won't have the backbone to actually say no. Supervisors like to use a style called 'leading.' Not as in, leadership, but as in, leading a conversation. If you come back in after walking in the sun for 11 hours and your supervisor has 45 minutes of mail left, they will try really hard to get you to take it out. Whether you have to get home to your kids or even if you're just tired, they will ignore anything and continue to nudge you towards the mail until you finally do one of two things, either take it out as they want, or just say no. Once again, this isn't something to make a habit out of, and if you're within your 90 days it shouldn't be done, but you can win this one as well. You may get an I.I. (a write-up) but as any good union rep will tell you, those don't mean anything. As long as you are respectful when you decline to take out more mail, you can generally walk away.

Knowing your words is very important. Remember, it's all about what you write down and the choice of wordage. For example, if they want you to take mail into an unfamiliar part of town at night, write a statement informing they that you feel this task is 'unsafe.' You've now informed them that you do not feel safe following this order. They can, and likely will, try and make you go back out, but now they have to essentially order you to commit an act that you have formally informed them you feel is unsafe. They are now taking all the liability, and you'd be impressed at how many times that alone will back some of them down.

The same can be said with an emergency situation. If something comes up that you need to attend to at home, write it up that you have an emergency. The supervisors can still tell you that you have to remain at work, but now in doing so, they are essentially ordering you to ignore a potential family emergency. This once again places a ton of liability on them, and can often back them down a bit.

Finally, SPEAK UP! Don't be afraid of your supervisors. You're an adult too. Be polite with them but also be firm. Do not allow them to 'lead' you, don't falter in your resolve. They might lie or try to intimidate you, but that is the best they can really do. As I said above, they cannot force you to do anything. When I first started, CCAs worked every single Sunday with Amazon. Then we got together and had a meeting with the supervisors and told them we wanted Sunday rotations since we had enough people to rotate. It worked and we now get two Sundays off a month. That is a lot better than working every single one.

In closing, because I don't want to get anyone fired, let me give you some last minute advice. If you're in your 90 days, you may want to disregard most of my advice until you make that 3 month mark. Standing up for yourself within that first 90 days can be dangerous, as they will either fire you or send you somewhere even worse.

Like I said above, be firm but POLITE. There is no reason to ever get into a shouting match with a supervisor. State your issues, stick to your plan and don't be pushed around, however, remember to calibrate this. Pick your battles in other words.

Anyway, these are few of the survival tips that have allowed me to have a relatively pleasant time as a CCA. I usually get two days off a week and generally don't work more than 10 hours, but that came with me being vocal about my limits and being persistent with what I wanted. This may have worked for me because I have a persuasive personality, and I cannot promise these results for everyone. Just remember, you have rights as a CCA. They don't own you, they cannot force you into misery. You have to stand up for yourself though, because no one else is going to do it for you.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 02, 2016:

You have it exactly right, Seth. Now that she hit 90 days it will be hard for the Post Office to fire her. Lately I am getting nothing but cheery reviews of the CCA job. Nothing but sugar-coated comments. I suppose I should be happy.

I don't think they will give her a sit down review, but I could be wrong. If management is saying nothing to her that means she is doing well, because they will voice their displeasure to people who aren't hitting the mark. Thanks for reading.

Seth on October 02, 2016:

So my girlfriend is working as a CCA and doing very well. She has been casing since her third week, and tomorrow will be her 90th workday (or 120 days from hiring). She really likes it (except for some small annoyances that every CCA has). My question: what is that 90-day mark or probation period mean? She is still a CCA, but is the difference now that she can be represented by the union? Or is it harder to get her fired now? Is there a sit down evaluation? I guess I'm not sure what happens after the 90 day probation period. And I when I do finally see my girlfriend, we don't to talk too much about work haha. Thank you for this page and all the info

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

Sorry if I gave you the impression that the Postal Service is always a bad job. It can be a good job, it is indeed what you make it, as you stated. My purpose of this article is simply to let people know the reality of what they are getting into. Thanks for reading.

Cardell2411 on September 25, 2016:

This article and comments have been very insightful. That being said I think anything you do is what you make it. I have three people close to me that work in USPS. Their perspectives are some what similar,but I was convinced it would be a good opportunity. So after my cousin Idk 20th time I applied and scored a 87. I guess that's good I wanted to go to San Diego dream city lived there and my family has found path from CCA to regular in 2 years. Long story short i decided to apply in Memphis were I am at and in San Diego. I had interview to every place I applied. Didn't end up making it to my dream city now I'm here where the weather is not sunny California. Plan on taking this CCA position here then transfering. I don't expect it to be easy, but every job sucks if your not doing something you love. So I just embrace the good and bad with any job if it pays the bills.

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

You don't have to be in school brandon. As if school means anything.

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

Paul I am confused. In 22 years I have never heard of a pay cut, unless it is nationwide and contractural. I don't know what to say to you.

brandon on September 20, 2016:

how long do you have to be in school to be a mailman

Paul X13 on September 20, 2016:

I was in the worse situation I ever had been in because of the Post Office. I was always successful at every job I worked at and been a manager at each job working my way up in just a few years. I work harder and have more education then others. I took the job as a mailman cause of the pay only to save for a house and worked overtime having no life to do so. I was qualified as a regular carrier when I was in the first year but my office no one was retiring. They decided to give us a paycut only to save the post office but didn't even realize what that would do to someone mentally or do to someones family. They ruined my opportunity to buy a house and had me strugging to save more for 3 years after. That it self was so wrong. The company don't even understand that they hurt 10,000 people like the Marothon bombers hurt thousands of people. They shouldn't be respected for their actions at all. I almost wanted to end my life and had gave my family a lot of problems because of their actions. They owe those 10,000 people what they had to give up. The problem isn't going to stop either. All the CCA going in now can work 6 years there and they could cut their pay again back to $15 cause the cost of living is making that pay go back up meaning they will have to cut it back down again in the future while people haven't made regular. The problem is the union and the older workers who suck up overtime working so slow. They need to put them on salary to push them to move faster. They never should have cut my pay or did anything to harm someones life. I hope nothing but bad things for the future of the Post Office.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 13, 2016:

The power points are useless, Ortiz, but I don't think more case training is the way to go. New CCAs don't do much casing anyway. The only thing I would change is to give them a shadow day with a carrier before sending them to academy. That way the concepts will make more sense. After academy no more shadowing, the CCAs start carrying swings under supervision of the OJI. That's how I do it. I throw them into the swimming pool head first and I have a great success rate.

Ortiz on September 13, 2016:

I am a new CCA in Boulder. I am making the transfer from the non Union FedEx. The protection of career employees has been a shock to me. You would think incentives to retire are coming soon. That being said, I am interested to see how the new delegations play out, especially towards election time. This might be a great time to be a current CCA, with conversions to career being a result.

The new training being implemented in Arizona (I believe) is definitely a game changer. The power point presentations with the 1980s videos are useless. Hands on/practice will get CCAs prepared for the fast paced environment. It would be nice to have CCAs come in and case for a few weeks before throwing them out in deep water, but for some that's a good way to learn.

My biggest advice: I am new to CCA as well, but remember these hard times. One day you may be a manager, so don't forget the troubles you faced as well.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 15, 2016:

There are bloodsuckers in the Post Office too, Schuster. At first I thought you were off topic and I was going to delete you, but on second thought I'll let it stand because it seems appropriate. We are more than one state, by the way. Just so you'll know next time.

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

All that is true, John, especially the lying about bouncing around to different offices. That one rankles me.'s a short path to regular for those willing to stick it out, and the difference between regular and CCA is night and day. Thanks for reading.

John on August 02, 2016:

As a former CCA, I urge you to not bother going through the interview process. The CCA job in Northern California has a 57 percent turnover rate -- the union says the Post Office can't hire enough to replace the ones who quit. It's a hard physical working -- driving around all day with temperatures in the 90s -- or walking if you have a walking route. Most trainees quit over the physical rigors of the job, but also aggravating beyond belief is all the codes, procedures, scanned checkpoints, timing of your route etc. Also, what the Post Office doesn't tell you is that you'll be sent to different offices on a daily basis and doing different routes every day. They also don't tell you that there's no guarantee of hours. That is, they'll call you at 7:30 in the morning to tell you they don't need you on a scheduled day, or you'll show up and work for two hours. I quit after about a month -- not because of the physical aspect but rather it's not worth working two hours to make $32 in a day.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 28, 2016:

SR you are repeating a litany of woes listed often here. Yes, supervisors have impossible expectations but many CCAS do manage to make them happy. Are there any helpful regulars at your station willing to give you their trade secrets to help improve your street and office efficiency? Are you being too careful and fastidious? You need to focus on loading that satchel quickly, keep your feet moving at all times and getting that mail delivered. Careful can come later. Best of luck to you friend. Thanks for reading.

SR on July 28, 2016:

Been a CCA for about 2 months now in CT. I DO NOT understand how they expect me to take a regualars route I have NEVER done before and expect me to be back to the office by 4pm. I do not take any breaks or lunch and can't make it back to the office until 5pm and they get PIST. I don't know how much longer I will last wether I get fired or quit. My body is breaking down and all I do after work is lay on the couch until I go to sleep just to repeat. My life is terrible

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

On second thought Jon why do you want to "scrink" your street time? That's how they justify cutting routes. No, you want to make your street time "growe." I hope you are collating bundles on 721, not 722. You can be disciplined for slow office time, but not street time.

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

Thank you brother Jon, the less bundles the better and out of the prying eyes of management.

jon carrier on May 23, 2016:

when u get on the street turn 3 bundles into 2 , then on low mail day turn 3 bundles to 1 and watch your street time scrink.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on December 22, 2015:

Like the Wichita lineman that's still on the line, Dave? Thanks for reality check.

Dave on December 22, 2015:

That's called reality.. Try being a lineman.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 24, 2015:

Thank you Steve for that contribution up the road there in Orange County. I am glad things are working out well and hope you make regular soon.

steve on October 23, 2015:

Ok I'm finally hitting my 1 year mark and let me tell you it's been an ok job experience . I got the hang of it after the first 2 weeks. My city has 7 stations so for the first 3 months I was bouncing around daily. If you don't get the hang of it fast you won't be able to get all your breaks even lunch ( they don't care). Management is alright, there's a few that are dicks especially the ones that never carry and especially the supervisor, they are worst. They just add more swings making you rush all the time. There was times I just wanted to quit and to be honest cry it's a tough job not for the weak. If your one of those guys who never work hard or lifted anything in your life than yea look away. Pay is great with alot of hrs depending on where you live it's a great opportunity to make alot money. Lucky for me there's 7 stations so I had work everyday. 50+ hrs weekly. I got the hang of it quick so I knew how to separate mail quick. Pretty much 4 managers were trying to get me permanent at there staion. I was already casing after 2 months. What i did is ask alot of questions, ask for maps, have a phone with a gps.The best tip for a Cca is to relax and take all your breaks. DON'T RUN. Just try to be quick trust me all managers and supervisor talk among each other. The better you get the faster you can opt and start casing. Don't be afraid to speak to your supervisor( mine at the moment is a hard head that needs to retire). He gets mad for coming back late but I do it on purpose cus he gives me an hr to an hr half swings and expects me to under time everyday. He is really dumb he has been there for 31 years but only carried for 7 months so he thinks by just checking the computer he thinks you can make it back by 5. They take the 5 o'clock very serious here(orange County). Just try to get by your 3 month probation and your set. Mostly all the regulars are cool they want you to succeed. Ask questions 100% of them have done that route so they know. Get some really good walking shoes and a shirt with pockets For pens and pink slips. I actually like it cus I know how to cut the releighs make them short and it helps that you apply at the city you grew up on. Man I wish the oji's would teach you how to seperate mail good so you won't struggle alot. And the sorting of the dps (leters) is like sorting playing cards. Pretty much the first week will let you know if the job Is for you. Make sure you ask your oji alot of question don't make him rush you .who cares if you skip his lunch. Just do your best. Lucky for me I cought on things quick especially that everyday I would bother every regulars there haha. By knowing the city you won't get lost. The current station I'm on I know all 25 routes and I can carry better than all of them. Don't worry about being 30 to an hr late during your first 3 months they can't fire you for that but just try your best. Trust me managers will start fighting to keep you at there station. I wish I can give my knowledge of how the carrying works to all new cca's but it will come eventually. Good luck

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 16, 2015:

Thank you for reading tobeornottobe. Who knows, maybe the job is for you? It is tough, but there is a relatively quick path to regular, which is still tough but not as bad. Good luck at whatever you do.

Tobeornottobe on October 15, 2015:

Great article mel, though i am not a cca yet, I was invited to do my first interview in a week or so. However, after reading your article, i am now having second thoughts. I've always wanted to work for usps because of the job security and benefits, but the bad outweighs the good.

Keep up the good work cca's, we (my family and i) appreciate all the hardwork and dedication you guys put in.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 13, 2015:

You are welcome CCAlinda, I admire your attitude. With that mindset I am sure you will do well because you are not going in kidding yourself that it is going to be easy. Thank you and let me know how it goes.

CCAlinda on October 13, 2015:

I stumbled across your page and been reading up on various CCA articles and comments. I was just recently hired as a CCA here in Los Angeles and halfway through the first week of training. Throughout the entire hiring and training process, they told us this is the hardest job we will ever have. Being a positive person, I am trying to go into this with a good attitude. At the same time, I don't want to be naive about it. Yes, I am nervous about the job, but I'm also looking forward to be working again. They did tell us out of the 150 people or so who made it so far, only about 30 of us will make it. When they said that, I thought to myself, I want to be one of those 30. Even now, halfway through training, I still want to make it. I know it's going to be hard, harder than anything they've told us. I want to think positively, but at the same time, I want to be realistic. Thank you for the insight this has been.

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

Thank you CCA Thomas for articulating your thoughts so beautifully. I hope things work out for you, no matter what you decide to do.

CcaThomas on June 03, 2015:

By all means, roll with it Mel. I would be honored if you'll quote and add my experiences to your blog.

Nothing new I'm adding here is news to you, Mel, but I'm doing so with the hope that it'll reach more potential ccas out there that are considering a "job" with the USPS. The first clue should've been half the candidates at orientation. Personally, those "half" I'm mentioning here are rather clueless to begin with. So much enthusiasm, yet so little common sense on display there. But I digress as that's another story.

For those interested, think of the 90 day probation period as boot camp. Oh make that specialized training as Army Rangers' school. The demands and expectations are that incredulous. Of course, it would be understandable if the rewards justify the means. But it isn't the case at $16/hr, and one is expected to outwork and outshine the regulars. Case in point, I'm expected to do a full route in 4 hrs. Yes! You heard it right 4 hrs!!!! And be back before the regulars do. Did I mention starting out an hour later than the regulars too. Ha! The one regular that did the right before I got on even told me it was impossible. He went to the union and they worked it out, where he got moved onto a more "reasonable" route. So I come aboard, and it's all deja vu again as I'm tossed onto that route. I may have to go to the union as well. I rather not, if reasonable heads can prevail. The last thing I want is to cause unnecessary tension in the work place. Guess what, I managed to get that route done in just a little over that 4 hrs. How was it possible then? It took all the right condition to make it work. Minimal mail volume, no third bundles, many houses not getting mails skipped, minimal parcels, registered mails, certified, and express mails too. And best of all, I worked through my 2 ten minute breaks. Even then I worked up a tremendous sweat to the point where homeowners were offering me bottled waters. I got back and left before the regulars got back. Even then, days like this are rare and few in between. You'd be lucky to get a day or two like this in a week. Otherwise, the mails keep coming. Even when the mail is light, you still have to walk the loop so consider that. The majority of the time, it is not possible. But management don't want to hear about it, despite knowing all about it.

There was another day when I incurred a swing from one of the regular that was off that particular afternoon - doctor's appointment. On my way there, I noticed one of the regular camped under a tree in the park. She was cool as a cucumber, honking and waving at me as I was making my loop sweating up a storm. At this time, I got a call from my supervisor telling me I should've been long done already. Told him, I'm working my best. Long story short, I got back to the office at the same time all the regular career carriers got back only to get repeated earfuls. I've pretty much tuned him out the moment I got back inside the office.

Synopsis is I've done a full route, plus an extra swing, bypassing breaks and lunch at the same time starting an hour later than the regular carriers, yet I was the "bad guy" supposedly "milking" the time I was told. That's gratuity for you. One can't make this stuff up.

I'm thinking the supervisor is just playing head games with me as if I was back in boot camp all over again. At the same time, my positive attitude and supposedly ultra thick skin can only take so much. However, I can't wait until my 90 days is up. My point is made as I'm not a quitter. Likely I'll be leaving and hoping to put my degree to work. (A profession that I don't enjoy, but it seems like paradise now compared to the experiences of working at the USPS.)

I fail to see how that kind of USPS training can really get the most out of someone. All that money wasted on training so many ccas with such callousness only to see the overwhelming vast majority fall out with days if not week or two. There is no logic here. Reminds me of why so many customers keep asking me, "Why do you guys keep changing carriers?" "Why are you in such a rush?"

To which I can only smile and tell them, the expectations and demands of the USPS is just that rigorous and walk on by. The public interaction along with the challenge of creating harmony out of anarchy once the last tray of mail is dished out are the only things I enjoy about this job. Aside from that, morale inside the post office resembles that of the morgue. This is a fact that the public does not see. The dark side to working at the USPS.

But don't let me get all of you down. Only a very few selected ones can make a job and hopefully a career out of the USPS. And those are the ones I commend. After all, putting up with all the foolishness and relentless to impossible demands from management there after decades do finally pay off. If anyone can make it, hopefully, you'll be camped under a tree in a park someday too, watching the newbies darting by in a mad frenzy.

Hopefully some of you will end up in a good office with good management. Otherwise, good luck! Really.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 02, 2015:

CcaThomas thank you for that beautifully written comment. I would like to quote it on my blog The Postal Tsunami, if you will allow. I won't use your name, even though there are probably dozens of CCAs named Thomas across the country who share your sentiments.

You are oh so right about the lack of postal leadership. These clowns wouldn't last 5 seconds in a foxhole. Fact is, they would probably run when the first bullet.flew over, because if there is anything they are cimpetent at it is avoiding responsibility. Thanks for serving bravely, if you leave it is definitely our loss.

CcaThomas on June 02, 2015:

Thank you for the response Mel.

Well I'm halfway through my probation and have done far exceedingly well compared to those that came before me, according to my Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde supervisor. The problem is one that "piling on" part you've mentioned. You do well, they add on. And then you have a bad day and it's suddenly, you're incompetent all over again. But on all the good days, rarely do hear a "good job" from my supervisor. If anything, I just want to make it through probation, if anything just to prove to myself that I can do it. Not out of love for the USPS, but out of courtesy for some of the good carriers there that needs the help. After that, I'll likely leave simply because of the poor leadership alone. As a former platoon leader, I'm aware of the importance of orders and how they have to be carried through. Even then, I don't impose or ridicule members of my squad when they can't accomplish the impossible i.e. when it takes longer just to walk a route, let alone deliver the mail and be back at the hour "expected." I'm a fast walker thanks in part to my "rucking" days in the army. Yes I do stick my head out for my team. But such is not expected from the leadership at the USPS. There is no compassion, no understanding, and no empathy for us ccas at my office. I'm the last cca out of four and recently three new faces just showed up. I pity them, but wish them the best.

Part of me wishing to leave is because moral is so low at office. The only time when employees actually smile is when greeting customers and that itself is a rarity.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 20, 2015:

CcaThomas it is especially mystifying when they have carried mail before. But the reality denying starts at the lowest levels of supervision and goes all the way to the top. Thanks for reading!

ccathomas on May 20, 2015:

Oh and all the while carrying a third bundle along with registered mails.

ccathomas on May 20, 2015:

My favorite is when supervisors take the best time from a route with the most favorable conditions, minimal mail volumes, weather condition, etc, and then expects the cca to meet that deadline even when he's practically new to the route. Got to love meeting these unreasonable expectations.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on April 20, 2015:

First of all, that asshole PTF paid his dues bro. He probably had to endure being a PTF for several years, and that is not an easy gig either. Your assessment about management is basically correct, but you need to support your Union. If it wasn't for them you would be getting whatever the minimum wage is there instead of the $15 or $16 you are now. What you need to be is patient. You will get your chance. CCAs are actually taking much less time to make regular than those asshole PTFs did. Pretty soon you will be regular and you'll get some time to kick it under a tree too. Not that there's an awful lot of that going on, that I can see. Thanks for reading.

Luke on April 20, 2015:

I guess I have it pretty good compared to larger cities. The town I'm in is about 14,000 people. Outside of the horrible pay, it hasn't been all that bad. I know I do more than the CBR's (Cry Baby Regulars) that need help with their routes everyday, for a lot less money and benefits. I am basically stuck for awhile though, as I was telling my supervisor, if I was 10 years younger (I'm 35) and didn't have a family to support, I would've quit 3 months in. You can't raise a family on what they pay and my wife is in the same boat (underpayed) as a school teacher. There's a guy getting ready to retire May 1, but our 63 year old PTF who already has one retirement from the social security department under his belt, no wife and no kids to support, is going to take the route that will come open (thanks asshole). I'm looking at another 2 years before the next one retires. We'll have a daughter as a Sr in high school next year with no means of sending her to college. Maybe she go work at the post office (part of me wishes I would've started straight out of high school, I'd have about 13 yrs to go til retirement)!! I will get more hours as I'm the only CCA and they will give me all the hours I want (and have to have to pay the bills). I used to get about 34 hours a week but it took 7 day work weeks to get them. I'm averaging about 45 hrs now, still working 7 days though.

The worst part is the management/union. They are in this thing together regarding CCA's. The management loves the money they save from the low wages and getting the same or more production, while the union pockets your dues and does absolutely nothing to represent the CCA's. They are only concerned with keeping the regulars jobs as simple and laid back as possible. The algorithms and formulas these MIT grads put together to tell a regular if they're going to be over or under on their route is a complete joke. I'll get an hour of carry off from someone then pass by them as they're setting in their LLV killing time at the end of the day waiting to go back to clock out. The management side is nothing but math loving nerds as executives that hire these dumb "yes men" as post masters and supervisors to push their math formulas onto the carriers. Even when proven wrong, they stick with them. No one on the management side can admit they are wrong. The supervisors are mostly ex-carriers that couldn't handle being a carrier for whatever reason. The whole thing is screwed up. On top of being a CCA, we double as supervisor assistants, running out Express mail or priorities that come in late because the sorting plant didn't send them with the first morning truck, so we deliver them in the afternoon. This is why I'm not a fan of unions. There's no incentive to work hard. It allows for lazy people to keep their great jobs. I guess I'd have a hard time retiring as well with the cake walk that cry baby regulars have. It seems like the most staunch union advocates are the worst workers. That's not a coincidence and unfortunately will not change in my lifetime.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on December 27, 2014:

I am glad you have a positive attitude NJCarrier. I was personally very skeptical that CCAs would be promoted, but lo and behold it seems to be happening. Thanks for reading!

NjCarrier on December 27, 2014:

I came into this job (cca) not having a clue what it was like. It's a rough job. I work in an annex that covers 13 zip codes which relates to about 130 routes and 20 auxillaries. It can be hard when I come in at 9:30 (the cca usual at my joint) an have to be back by six woth the sun setting by 4:30. But theres luck for me yet as the cca promotion rate at the moment is about a 5 month waiting period. That's the only reason im willing to stay. A guarenteed career position that soon when some have been waiting a decade or more. Guess I should be thankful.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on December 25, 2014:

Money talks boston, especially when it's 10 below outside. Here in California we have managed to hold onto the majority of ours, and now that people are being promoted there is more motivation to stay. Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas.

boston on December 24, 2014:

our cca,s quit in a very short time . now that we have them we are even more short staffed than before because of the turn over. the 's at least stayed longer

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 27, 2014:

I am sure your Correctional Officer job pays better. It's a shame we have come to this AGE that you would rather take your chances with inmates than deal with the post office. Thanks for reading!

A.G.E. on November 27, 2014:

I just secured a CCA job and was exicted. I applied out shits and gigs and got it. Buutttt after reading different reviews of the job I think I'll pass and keep my Correctional Officer job for the time being. I have seen only two positive comments about this job.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 26, 2014:

Thank you abluesfornina. You are better off to avoid it if you csn. Thsnks for reading!

S Marie on November 26, 2014:

Well, if I ever thought of being a mail carrier I don't now. Thanks for the heads up and well written article.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 01, 2014:

ODran you obviously haven't done your homework and you are speaking out of misconceptions and lies you have heard out of some politician or talk radio host's mouth. Until the recession the USPS was profitable in spite of these packages and still would be if Congress was not stealing 5 billion a year from its treasury, an act of piracy justified by the false rhetoric you are spreading around. I invite you to read my hub "Postal Myths Debunked" for more on this subject. Thanks for reading.

O'Dran on November 01, 2014:

USPS will never be profitable because of the compensation packages given to its season employees.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 23, 2014:

When I first started out people were fighting to get out of the plant and become carriers, so that might tell you something. Doing mundane work on a graveyard shift could make for very tedious nights. At least as a CCA your days will fly by. But then again, winter will be here soon. Does it snow or rain a lot where you live? Just some things to think about...Thanks for reading!

dspike on September 22, 2014:

For someone new to the PO and having gotten lucky with 2 different offers. one is a CCA for sure and the other is PSE Mail processing clerk. CCA is daytime work and Clerk is at a large plant swing and grave shifts. Which one to choose Hmm ??

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 26, 2014:

That's not a little bit different, that's pretty much par for the course. How did that knucklehead make Postmaster if he doesn't know how to order a time card? Wait, I know how, by being a jerk. Please contact your Union rep about the time card situation immediately and in the meantime keep a meticulous record of your hours. Thanks for reading.

INDY on August 26, 2014:

My experience is a little different. My supervisor keeps having me come in at 9 or 10 p.m. In my second week she had me come in at 10 and gave me 6 hours worth of mail on two different routes I had never worked on. The PM was freaked out when I was out past 5 and not on the clock. She couldn't answer to the powers that be who was on the street. I was treated as if this mismanagement was my fault. They still haven't gotten a time card for me after a month because they don't know how to order one. So, when I am loaned to other stations I am terrified I won't get paid. There is another CCA who has been there a week longer than me they like better. They have him come in earlier and give him the nicest air-conditioned van. I like the actual work but the management is what's doing me in.

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 16, 2014:

A tragedy indeed, erinshelby, one that was aggravated by the Postmaster's stubborn insistence to move start times back during the fall and winter, the very time when we need as much daylight as possible to work safely. The man is obstinately stubborn, and that poor young letter carrier paid the price. Thanks for dropping in!

erinshelby from United States on July 16, 2014:

How very sad that this man died while delivering mail! Of all the "dangerous" occupations where someone's life could be endangered while doing their job, I would have never thought postal carrier would be one of them...

Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 16, 2014:

You are quite welcome Carrier Wife. This is the first time I have heard about a reduction in pay from $16 to $15. Has he gone to the Union yet to report this? He really should. Thank you for your contribution to the discussion.

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