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How Does a Mailman Spend a Workday?

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Organizing the Mail

The mailman's busy day begins at the post office several hours before any mail is delivered. Each mailman is responsible for getting, sorting and arranging hundreds of pieces of mail. This ranges from 500 to more than 1,000 names and addresses to remember. They use a small cubicle that is called a "case." It has a spot for each address's mail. It is usually two or three sides with several rows of small holders. Some of this mail is already pre-sorted by machines in the order it is delivered, but it still has to be organized and placed in the spaces provided. Every letter, package and even all junk mail has to be prepared for delivery. Once it all is in the proper order, it must be taken out and put in containers. Any items that need to be scanned, forwarded, held back, returned or any that is addressed wrong need to be taken care of properly. The USPS (United State Postal Service) has strict policies that must be adhered to for mail handling.

Packing the Mail

All of the organized mail has to be placed in a vehicle for delivery. It has to be put in the exact order it will be needed. This is a very strenuous activity considering the massive amount of mail this can be. Some of the mail carriers will have vehicles provided by the post office, but many will use their own. Mail being delivered to mail rooms is packed differently than mail placed in mailboxes. The mailman must pack his vehicle properly and safely and be out of the post office by a certain time.

Delivering the Mail in Mailrooms

Mail delivered to a mail room will be unpacked and placed in the room. The boxes in the room have names and numbers on the inside for the mailman to use. Mail is placed in the mail receptacles in order. Any packages too large or items that need signatures are delivered to the address shown. Some rooms have large boxes to place the packages in. A key is then given to the addressee for them to access the packages. Any items that need to be forwarded or returned are taken back to the post office. Usually an outgoing mail receptacle must be picked up before returning to the post office also.

Delivering Mail to Mailboxes

The mailman will drive his vehicle to each mail receptacle on the mail route. They must stop at each box that has mail or that needs mail picked up from. It is very dangerous when the boxes are located on busy roads. The mail is normally placed in a large amount of containers and stacked in the vehicle in the order needed. As the containers are emptied, new ones are used. The mailman usually drives from the right side of a vehicle for easier access to the mailboxes. A specific route the mailman must follow begins and ends at the post office.

End of the Workday

Once carriers return to the post office, they still have plenty to do. All of the outgoing mail they received must be placed for pickup by the mail trucks. Any "accountable" mail items (Registered, Certified and the like) must be returned to the proper storage place. Any paperwork needed can be done now or in the morning. This includes forwards, holds, address changes, new addresses, route changes and others. There most likely will be mail that was delivered to the post office during the day that needs to be placed in the carrier's case for delivery in the morning.


Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.