"We are mothers and fathers. And sons and daughters. Who every day go about our lives with duty, honor and pride. And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift completion of our appointed rounds. Ever."
~ US Postal Service Creed
You may recall my field trip in September 2010 when I accompanied a Canada Post Letter Carrier on her 16km route in the Glebe neighborhood of Ottawa. It was a glorious, sunny, autumn day and aside from the fact that I was severely out of shape (making the 14 km walk that day a challenge), the experience was very positive and I thought how wonderful this job would be. The catch was that if I was willing to experience the route in the fall, I had to commit to coming back in the winter months to experience the harsher side of delivering mail.
We made a plan that I would join Lisa on Thursday, February 24th. Let's just say that I couldn't have picked a better winter's day to do it although I really didn't get the true experience of some of the hardships of the mail carrier in the Canadian winter months. For the followers who live in sunnier climates, you may shudder at the thought of walking around in -10 degree Celsius (14 Degrees F) weather but we have had days this winter when the temperature dropped to -30 degrees Celsius which ends feeling more like -42 degrees Celsius with the windchill. On this particular day, we were blessed with a balmy -2 degrees Celsius and clear, dry sidewalks. I wore my running shoes and a couple of light layers. I even had to remove my hat as it was getting too warm after a while.
|Lisa loading up her mail bags!|
And on top of that, Lisa had a very light mail load compared to the rest of the week. For example, the day before, she had fourteen of the large grey, canvas mail bags containing six bundles of mail each and it took her over four hours to complete her mail route. On this day, she had only six canvas bags with each one containing only two bundles of mail. Although I slowed her down, we still managed to complete the route in just over two hours and I only walked about 10km (6 miles).
I did learn some of the interesting aspects of mail delivery in the winter compared to the warmer months. The most obvious one is the responsibility of the home owners to keep their walkways, steps and driveways clear so that the mail can be delivered safely. I was appalled at the conditions of some of the homes and how treacherous it was for Lisa and I to navigate the walkways. I took some photos of some of the better examples of poor maintenance on the part of the home owners.
|Lisa "Tsk! Tsk! Tsk-ing" this home owner's driveway.|
|This doesn't look treacherous at all (enter sarcasm)|
Canada Post provides their mail carriers with warning cards to leave for their customers as a gentle reminder that their walkways/steps need to be cleared. They look like this:
|Sorry, folks! Can't get it to rotate.|
|Lisa re-enacting a slip and fall!|
If you get your mail delivered to your door, check your property and make sure you have cleared and salted the areas that your mail carrier may walk on. Give yourself extra time in the morning to shovel before your leave for work as your mail will be delivered while you are away from home. And if you fail to clear your walkway and you are left a warning card, do not yell obscenities at your mail carrier. Take responsibility and show some respect.
|One of Lisa's favourite customers who gives her a daily kiss!|
|This slot is too small for the mail that this household receives.|
I'll give Lisa the last word for this post:
"Winter can be a frustrating time to deliver mail:
harder to walk, cold temperatures, wet feet, having to stop customers mail, heavier clothing and even handling the mail with gloves on. That being said, it is our job and winter is part of living in Canada. I love my job and always know that spring is just around the corner."