Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reflective Dots

When I first started my route, I needed it to be dark when I delivered the papers. There are reflective dots on the boxes indicating who gets a paper and how often. Blue dots mean Monday through Friday, Yellow dots mean Sunday only, Green dots mean Friday through Sunday, and Red dots indicate a customer that receives the paper every day. In the light of dawn the dots are hard to see, and some of the older red dots that have faded over time appear yellow. In the bright sunlight it is very easy to spot the white press tubes, but the tiny reflective dots are practically unnoticeable. For someone unfamiliar with the route, this could make accurate delivery difficult to impossible.
To complicate things further, there are boxes everywhere. When a customer stops getting the paper, they don’t necessarily lose their box right away. It is up to me as the carrier to take down, put up and move boxes as needed. In all honesty I am pretty neglectful when it comes to taking care of my boxes especially now that it’s winter. I prefer to move around the boxes that are bolted onto metal posts by pulling the whole post out of the ground rather than taking the boxes that are bolted to the customers’ mail box support. This is for two reasons. First, not everybody has their mailbox on a wood support – some are plastic and some are metal making it impossible to secure the box to them. Secondly, it is really hard to get the boxes unbolted from their current locations due to age and rust. While it’s not too difficult to wrestle the box free, it is always an exercise in futility to try and get the metal bracket loose. So there you’d have a box with no way to secure it to the new customer’s mailbox. While neither choice is ideal, due to the fact that I’m female and not particularly big or strong (I’d really prefer having somebody else take care of the boxes for me!) taking the post is the lesser of two evils. I am much handier utilizing my body weight to loosen the poles from the ground than I am using a wrench on rusty bolts. I have become quite adept at using my 3 pound hammer to secure the boxes back into the ground at their new locations.
I’ve wandered off track; let’s get back to the reflective dots. There are several reasons why I am neglectful when it comes to being sure my route is, to quote my district manager, “properly dotted.” As mentioned previously, its winter which means that most mornings my boxes are covered in a layer of frost. I have approximately 15 customers that have either switched their form of delivery or are new since the onset of the cold weather. It would take me at least an additional 2 minutes at each of these boxes to defrost them, warm them up enough that the dot would actually adhere, get the sticker off the backing which is no easy task, stick it on and still deliver the paper. It probably doesn’t sound like much to you, but trust me, adding 30 minutes to my route seems like an eternity. What I try to do is remove one incorrect dot each morning as it occurs to me. When I have a morning where it’s warmer than 32 degrees (which are few and far between) I try to properly mark one or two boxes. Thankfully I now know where I am and who gets a paper, dots or no dots.
Eventually my route will once again be properly dotted with all of my boxes secure and accurately placed, but definitely not until the spring thaw. My plan is to have everything correct just in time for me to turn my beloved route over to a new carrier. Hopefully the accurate location of boxes and properly dotted route will make the transition a smooth one. I wouldn’t ever want my customers to suffer because of improper dot placement!

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