now it can be told: how i turned an easy day into a nightmare

I worked route number 5, my usual route, on Saturday and had a rare light day. Good thing too, since I was supposed to interview someone for my next 422 Business article at 4pm. On top of that, it was Stamp Out Hunger day. Stamp Out Hunger is the postal service's food drive. More on that later.

After pulling all my mail I wound up with only 8 trays, which I neatly arranged on one of those large carts I've told you about before. Those carts actually have a name, they're called nutting carts and they look something like those pictured. The difference, and it is a key difference, is that the carts we use at the post office have one large wheel in the center and one wheel centered at either end, as opposed to the two wheels you see in the picture. That makes them easy to turn. It also makes them tippy.

I took my mail out to the dock and as I went to get my car, I noticed that the cart was turned the wrong way. I backed my car up to the dock, leaving plenty of room to load the trays from the cart into the back of my Passat wagon. Then I hopped up on the dock to turn the cart. As I did so, about 2/3 of the way through the turn, the cart started to tip toward the parking lot. What had happened, apparently, was that the forward wheel was off the end of the dock, grabbing air. This effectively removed any obstacle between the front of the nutting cart and the parking lot, three feet below. At approximately 400 pounds without mail on it, a nutting cart can go pretty much wherever it wants to.

I tried to stop it but when it seemed my arms might either leave my body or that my body might follow the cart off the dock, I let go, stepped back, and watched in horror as my entire load of mail dumped itself onto the pavement. The cart and mail trays did not hit the car, so I had that going for me.

You might think that this would reduce me to tears. And had it happened in February, tears just might have flown. However, I am a smarter carrier than I once was, maybe just as clumsy but smarter. I now rubber band every slot in my mail case. All those rubber banded bundles stayed intact and fanned out nicely on the pavement. I gathered them, threw them in the trays and went back insdie to my case. The suprervisor helped me put the bundles back in the case because there were a lot of them out of order.

I had to cancel my interview but all told, I only lost an hour. I was home by 5pm. Of course, if I hadn't dumped my mail I would have been home before 4.

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