As the dark evenings set in earlier and the temperatures grow increasingly colder, the days grow longer for our local mail carriers. Not only does the loss of daylight in the afternoon present a challenge for reading and identifying pieces of mail, it can also disguise hidden dangers in yards that may create obstacles for mail delivery.
Bryan Hamilton, city letter carrier, and the current vice president of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch #234, said there are several factors this time of year that can impede the progress of a mail carrier. The most apparent is the dark and how drastically it can affect, and even hinder, delivery. Hamilton said, although the carriers typically wear reflective uniforms, some even purchase their own headlamps to be able to read mail and identify houses and yard hazards.
“We are a service to the people, for the people,” Hamilton said, “to keep people connected.”
Hamilton said the carriers are on the street six days a week and, while their main goal is to be there for people in delivering the mail, they have also been trained to keep an eye on things when they “don’t look right” and recognize people in need.
He added that, just like the people they serve, each piece of mail is valuable, and the carriers just want to ensure they are able to deliver the mail in the most efficient manner possible.
“It could be somebody’s medicine or a letter from overseas,” Hamilton said. “It really doesn’t matter what it is; it was important enough for someone to send it, so we have to make sure it gets there in a timely fashion. We take a lot of pride in that.”
In recent months, United States Postal Service (USPS) trucks have been making their rounds on Sunday afternoons. Hamilton said that while other larger cities have been doing Sunday deliveries for some time, Owensboro just started a few months ago. He said there are current contract (CCA) employees who work seven days a week to help with the overabundance of mail, which he said can partially be attributed to the guarantee of Amazon Prime delivery.
While letter carriers spend countless hours training and debriefing to address efficiency and learn how to avoid possible hazards and obstacles, there are several things residents can do, especially during the cold weather and holiday season to help make their jobs easier.
What you can do to help your mail carrier this winter:
Make sure your house number is clearly displayed.
Leave your porch light on, especially if you notice mail has not yet been delivered.
Maintain control of dogs and other animals.
Pay extra close attention when pulling into and backing out of your driveway.
Ensure holiday decorations (as well as wires, cords, etc.) are out of the path of foot traffic, and not covering your house number.
“We’re just trying to do our job,” Hamilton said. “Rain, sleet, snow, wind or dark of night — it’s not just a creed — it’s what we do.”