Archives for posts with tag: postal workers

In Service to the People
by Mary Camarillo

After my grandfathers served in WWI, they took the Railway Post Office (RPO) exam. RPO clerks were considered postal service elites at the time. They were a close-knit group. That’s how my parents met—their fathers worked together.

The RPO manual required clerks to “possess more than ordinary intelligence, have a retentive memory and be sound in wind and limb.” My grandfathers knew all the rail junctions, the specific local delivery details and were able to ready a 50-pound mail pouch, stand in an open doorway just before the train passed the station at 70 miles per hour, grab the incoming pouch off a crane, and kick the outbound pouch off to the ground (and hopefully not underneath the train wheels).

My father rode with my grandfather on a few trips and decided he did not want to work for the post office. I wasn’t expecting to either, but when a friend took the exam, I tagged along. When I got hired, I planned to work a few months, save some money, and quit. I stayed for many reasons—five weeks’ vacation, 10 paid holidays, health benefits, the retirement package–but mostly because of the camaraderie of a close-knit group of people working towards a common goal.

Postal employees (my grandfathers, Charles Bukowski, John Prine, my husband, countless friends) miss Christmas celebrations, get bitten by dogs, and lose sleep working graveyard because they are committed to getting the mail out despite snow, rain, heat and now Covid-19, and a new postmaster general intent on cutting service.

The Postal Service mission is to “bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people.” The RPO handbook called this responsibility “a sacred duty.” I can think of nothing more sacred than binding our nation together in these fractured times.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Postal Service is in my DNA. I had a long career with the service, and I find the recent changes in service standards alarming. There is a longer version of this essay on my website.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: These are photographs of my grandfathers, who were both Railway Post Office clerks. Their names are Hubert Adrian Parker (right) and McDonald Wilson Brice (left), both deceased.

Camarillo Photo3 headshot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Camarillo’s first novel will be published by She Writes Press in June of 2021. She is currently working on a novel told in linked stories. Her prose and poetry have appeared in publications such as The Sonoran Review, Lunch Ticket, and The Ear. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband who plays ukulele and their terrorist cat Riley who has his own Instagram account @marycamel13. Visit her at MaryCamarillo.com to read more of her work.

Author’s photo taken at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

archangel-gabriel-annunciate-1433
Gabriel
             Patron Saint of Postal Workers
by Marjorie Maddox

Behold, I bring you tidings
of new stamps, of short-haired
schnauzers with sharp teeth,
forecasts of sleet, extra city blocks,
rain the size of Dobermans to dog-and-cat down.
And you will All-Hail the hail of Hades,
snow will suction your Slim-Fast hips,
humidity will hug your lips
till you swallow its hunger.

But lo, I am with you alway
with good digestion and balance,
parkas equipped for the fickleness
of weather, light sweaters for global warming,
blessings against shin splints and blisters.
And you will have long memory
for zip codes, broad smiles for strangers,
birth announcements and love letters in your arms.
O, messenger of mercy and joy,
even unto the end
of your blessed earthly career.

Previously published in Christianity and Literature.

IMAGE: Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation by Fra Angelico.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Raised in the Protestant tradition, I grew up knowing very little about the Catholic saints. As I became more and more liturgical, I was both surprised and intrigued to learn there was a patron saint for just about everyone: hairdressers, pawn shop owners, funeral directors, baseball fans—the list seemed endless. Eventually my interest and research turned into a long series of poems, which became a section of my book Weeknights at the Cathedral .  “Gabriel: Patron Saint of Postal Workers” is part of that collection. Little did we know that “pandemics” would be added to “snow, sleet, and hail” as hurdles.

Marjorie Maddox 2019 author photo with TTT jpg copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist); Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite Press); four children’s and YA books—including  Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Readiing Poems with Insider Exercises (Finalist Children’s Educational Category 2020 International Book Awards), A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry ; Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems; and I’m Feeling Blue, Too!, Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Her book Begin with a Question is forthcoming from Paraclete Press in 2021. Visit her at marjoriemaddox.com and on Twitter