Visit Citebite Deep link provided by Citebite
Close this shade

For mail carriers, Christmastime is a ‘year in a month

Posted Dec. 25, 2016, at 7:20 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 25, 2016, at 2:25 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Just before climbing out of his mail truck, Adam Hall strapped stabilizers to his boots to avoid slipping on the icy streets and sidewalks along the end of Wilson Street near the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge.

“It snowed just enough to hide the ice,” Hall said, as he headed out with his first bag of mail on Blake Street, one of the side streets that run off Wilson. He also brought a rain hat, jacket and pants and galoshes to keep off the rain that would fall later in the day.

Hall, who’s been a mailman for the Brewer Post Office for four years, was one of scores of U.S. Postal Service employees loading up trucks early Saturday with packages and making the last big push to get them delivered in time for Christmas.

It’s a big job. Last year, the postal service delivered more than 15 billion pieces of mail and packages during the holiday season.

Story continues below advertisement.

In Brewer, postal employees are responsible for their sliver of that: 18 routes, nine of them city route and the rest rural routes.

Hall’s Christmas Eve workday began with the part of his route that includes the section of Wilson Street near the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge and the side streets that run off it, including Blake, Fling and Brimmer streets. It would not end until late afternoon.

Some of the folks to whom he delivers mail have left things out for him, too. Things like cookies, cards and good wishes, he said.

“It’s very nice,” he said.

John Jamo, a supervisor at the Brewer Post Office, said that staffers still were receiving calls from people looking for their missing packages as recently as Saturday.

With the Christmas season arriving on the heels of the election, postal workers hadn’t much of a breather in recent months.

“There were so many planned mailings and so many non-planned mailings but, you know, we have to treat them all as First Class mail. Once we get it, we have to deliver it that day no matter what,” he said.

The same holds true for Christmas mail, Jamo said.

“There’s been all kinds of special deliveries,” he said.

“Operations started at five in the morning with the clerks getting the mail to the carriers and it doesn’t end until about seven o’clock at night,” he said. “It’s a total team effort. [When Christmas presents can be delivered in time] each and every one of them have a hand in that success.”

As Jamo sees it, there is no other time like the weeks leading to Christmas for those whose jobs it is to deliver.

“Delivering mail in the spring, summer and fall is nothing like this. Delivering mail in the winter is nothing like this. This is like a year in a month. FedEx is the same way. So is UPS. Were all working together trying to help each other. It’s really rewarding,” he said.

But processing mail is not the only Christmas-related work that postal employees do. They’ve also been responding to children’s letters to Santa — including one from a child who apologized to Santa for being bad during the previous year, Jamo said.

“We couldn’t write back fast enough,” Jamo said. Despite the heavy seasonal workload, “We still find time to do the little things and sometimes little things mean more than anything else.”

On the street, it was hard keeping up with Hall as he placed letters, cards and packages in the boxes and mail slots along his route. He chuckled when he came across some carrots that a family left out for Rudolph and Santa’s other reindeer.

“There are some bad jobs,” he said. “This is not one of them.”