postal codes: lots of zip

We rural carriers (and rural carrier wannabes like me) spend what can sometimes be the equivalent of a full work day together before we even make our first delivery. In the morning we "face the case." That is, our mail case. And we face it for anywhere from three to six hours (sometimes even longer). But despite the fact that we're not looking at each other, we talk to each other constantly. A lot of it is friendly banter and there are codes that help keep it that way. It may not seem that way, but creative use of this vernacular can render a neophyte such as myself speechless with laughter. Some people can tell 'em, some can't.

So forget zip codes. Here are some of the code words and phrases you simply must learn in order to survive working for the postal service... at least at my office.

  • 8:47! It might be any time, really. This is what Doug yells the moment he pours coffee from his thermos into his cup for that first daily sip of joe. Often the time is followed by "people", as in "9:18, people!"
  • Don’t leave without me! Someone will say this to you as soon as you begin to push your cart full of mail away from your case to leave for the street. Unless, of course, you are the last one to leave in which case you must say it to yourself.
  • How ‘bout it? This phrase is appended to any statement for which one seeks affirmation. For example, "These flats are a pain in my butt! How bout it?" The expected response is "how 'bout it!" (note subtle difference in punctuation)
  • How do we get paid for that? The de rigeur response to pretty much anything the supervisor says when other carriers are present.
  • Howr they comin’ down? A companion statement to "howz it goin' in?" In other words, "how fast are you pulling the mail out of your case and will you beat me out of the office today?" The polite answer is "slow, thanks for asking."
  • Howr they linin’ up? When the other carriers see that you have finished getting all of your mail into your case and have retrieved your parcel hamper, which, since it is Monday and this is the heaviest route in the post office, will be filled to overflowing, they will ask this question. It means how fast are you putting your parcels in the order that you will deliver them and will you be finished quickly and thereby beat me out of the office. The polite answer is "slow, thanks for asking."
  • Howz it goin in’? (alt. Howr they goin' in?) Meaning, "how much progress have you made in putting your presorted letters into your mail case, and will you be finished soon and thereby beat me out of the office?" This is never asked until the pre sorted mail is actually brought around, which happens somewhere around 9 am on weekdays. The polite answer is either "slow, thanks for asking," or the even more polite "they're not, thanks for asking." If the latter is yelled, the inquisitor usually responds back with "sorry to hear that, name."
  • I’m listenin’ name! This is the initial response to any question anyone asks you. It's all in the way you say it.
  • Name, come and find me when you’re done. If you are leaving before other carriers to take your mail to the street, one of them will certainly say this. Though it is not a serious request, it means, "When you finish delivering your mail, come and help me finish delivering mine."
  • Save me a spot on the dock! Pretty self explanatory, don't you think?
  • We don’t talk like that! When someone crosses the line into impropriety, and often even when they don't, this is the next thing you will hear. Often it is heard from multiple voices simultaneously.
  • Welcome back name. When you return from doing anything (delivering your mail, getting your parcel hamper, going to the bathroom) any other carriers present will say this.
  • You’re faaaaaast. This phrase is uttered whenever anyone does anything mail related before anyone else does that same thing. For instance (even though this almost never happens) if I finish casing my flats before anybody else, Bill will say, "Jim, you're faaast!" He may say it twice. If only it were true.

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