Going Postal: Day 19

demons.jpgDay 19: David Walker vs. the Demon

The first time anyone told me that I would never amount to anything, I was about seven or eight years old. It was the art teacher at my elementary school, who had a problem with the way I wanted to paint a picture (or some shit along those lines). I remember her telling me that kids with attitude problems like mine never grew up to be anything. I heard things like that many times over the years, all the way through college, and every time I heard it, a voice in my head would respond, “Fuck you. I’ll prove you wrong.”

Over the years I’ve had the chance to know many children, and I even spent time working with kids with learning disorders and emotional problems. Quite honestly, some of these kids were very unmotivated, and some were dumber than sacks of dirt, but none of them were beyond hope. And never, no matter how frustrated I became with a child, would I ever tell them that they would not amount to anything in their life. Honestly, I would probably take off my shoe and beat a kid with it before I would say something like that, because those words are more damaging than any asswhooping.

It was that art teacher—that dirty fucking cunt of a shit-eating bitch—who gave birth to the Demon. And over the years there have been others who have fed the Demon, ranging from teachers to co-workers to girlfriends and others. The Demon that they fed was the self-doubt and fear that maybe I really am a disruptive force in class, maybe I really do have trouble remaining focused and getting assignments done, maybe I will never amount to anything. The Demon still hovers over me, every second of every day, and tells me that “winners never quit, and quitters never win.” It reminds me of what a bad boyfriend I’ve been, and a terrible son, and how much I’ve failed at everything I’ve ever tried to do. And so all of my time is spent fighting the Demon.

Lately, the Demon has been having a field day with me. It tells me that the pain I’m feeling isn’t that bad, and I should just shut the fuck up and take it like a trooper. It tells me if I quit this job, that I’ll become a bum, who will be broke, and that I’ll get evicted, and my car will be repossessed, and that my elementary school teacher will have been right all along. And that’s the reason I haven’t quit. It’s the reason I always have trouble quitting, or admitting defeat. It’s why I spent four years in a relationship with a woman who can best be described as “mean.” But it is also how I was able to work two full time jobs, and make films.

I know how ridiculous all of this sounds, but every single one of you has the exact same Demon—it’s just that some of us have louder demons that others. But last night I had a long talk with my Demon, and we had a nice reasonable conversation. I said, “Look, I’m working this job as a temp, which means I have no healthcare benefits. If I try to claim an injury on the job, I’m going to be fired; and if I stay, I’m likely to get hurt to the point I will need a lot of medical attention. And since I don’t get benefits, I’ll be paying for those medical bills, which means I will simply be working to pay for my own health care.”

“That actually makes sense, said the Demon. “Go ahead and quit. I promise that I won’t fuck with you over this one.”

So, that’s how I came to make the decision that I was going to tell my main supervisor that I was done, and to stop putting me on the schedule. But then a funny thing happened—she disappeared. I don’t know where she went, but somewhere around 11 or 11:30, my supervisor just disappeared, so I never got to talk to her. And then, as the shift wore on, other strange things began to happen, and I realized that I couldn’t just quit without conducting a little experiment first.

You see, it’s like this…last night was the least painful tour of duty I have experienced working at the post office. Don’t get me wrong, I still felt like shit, but the key difference was that I didn’t work as hard as I usually do. Every time I go in, I give it my all. But last night, I decided I would only work as hard as the people next to me. The Demon wasn’t too happy about that (because it made me too much of a slacker), but it sure made a difference in how the night went for me. The crazy thing was that no one seemed to notice that I wasn’t working that hard—because no else was working that hard either.

One of the biggest problems I’ve had is that I have been working as a loader, and that is literally the most physically taxing job on the battlefield. For some reason, early in the shift last night there were a bunch of other guys who got stuck loading that normally don’t do it, and they just couldn’t keep up, which meant I was able to slow down to keep pace with them. So, rather than unload an entire container of mail in 20 minutes, I took about 35 or 40 minutes—and I was still working faster and harder than the other guys.

Around 1 in the morning, we switched from processing priority packages to first-class parcels. The mail arrives in one of several containers, and is either in bags—which are a bitch to deal with because they’re heavy—or in random jumbles. The mail is dumped by the loader on to a conveyor belt, which takes it to the “keyer,” who then enters the zip code into the computer, and then places it on another conveyor belt where it is sent down a long line and then deposited into the appropriate bag that is hanging at the bottom of a chute. For whatever reason, the keyers are able to enter and process priority mail much more quickly, which makes it very difficult to keep your belt full, resulting in the dreaded “black belt.” But when you are dealing with first-class parcels, the keyers take longer to process it, so you can get more packages on to the belt more quickly.

The automatic processing machine I work on has six loading belts, with six keying stations. So, earlier this morning, me and five other loaders filled our belts with mail, and the keyers went to work. The thing was that these particular keyers were soooooooo slow, me and the other guys ended up just standing around talking. It was the first time I really ever talked with any other people about the job, and it turned into a mutual bitch session. Meanwhile, these keyers were just taking their sweet time. To give you an example…in the average hour I can empty anywhere from three to five containers full of priority mail, and still not keep up with the keyer. But last night, between 1 and 5:15 in the morning, I only emptied three containers of first-class parcels.

So, here I am standing around with these other guys, talking about how come we get stuck unloading for twelve hours straight with breaks every two to three hours, when the keyers get to come off the line every thirty minutes. Did I mention the keyers get to sit? Did I mention that the loaders are the ones who get yelled at for everything? It’s all bullshit. But then, this morning, at 4:00, I experienced something that amazed even me. I’m working with five other loaders, and we all have our belts packed with as much mail as possible, and when 4:00 rolls around, three of the six keyers just get up and leave. Period. That’s it. Their shift is done, and they are going home without a word, a nod, or a middle finger in the air. This leaves three other keyers left on duty—two of which are complete morons and can’t seem to do the job. Then, one of the other supervisors comes by, and gets all pissed off at me and the other loaders, because the mail isn’t going through. We tell this lunatic broad that the other keyers have gone, and no one has showed up to replace them. This is no fault of me or the other loaders, but we’re the ones on the receiving end of the bullshit. So what do we do? We literally stand around for an hour with nothing to do, waiting for more keyers to show up. And this is how the post office is run. I guarantee all of you reading this, if someone had trained me how to key at 1 in the morning, by 2:00 I would have had the shit down, and by 5:00 I would have accomplished at least as much as the three other keyers combined. But instead, me and the other loaders—none of whom are retards—get yelled at because there are no competent keyers, and no one bothered to schedule people properly.

At this point, I’m glad I didn’t actually quit, because it was while I was standing around on my feet—because there is nowhere to sit on the battlefield—me and my Demon came up with a great plan.

First, I am not going in to work tonight. I was supposed to get tonight off, but of course, none of the supervisors managed to remember. So, even though I told four supervisors, I’m sure all of them will be wondering where I am tonight.

Tomorrow, which is Friday, I plan on showing up late. Probably an hour or two—just to see if I can get away with it. Then I am going to see if I can get away with not doing any real work. If I can avoid being a loader, I should be able to wander around the floor, pretending to be busy; and as long as I’m late, it will be easy to not get assigned to loading. If I can pull off not working on Friday, I’m going to attempt the same thing for as many days as possible. But as soon as I either get busted, or simply get into a situation where I can’t avoid working, I will tell the supervisor that I hurt myself —which you all know is true—and I need to quit. Based on what I have seen, I should be able to run this scam for at least two or three days.

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4 Responses to “Going Postal: Day 19”

  1. Adam C. Says:

    DW, I am all for what L13 suggested in an earlier post. I smell a book coming for these story. absolutely hilarious and right on!

  2. mikimonster Says:

    Lol. I totally totally like it. I hope it works out.

  3. blorvak Says:

    You do know the reason you never get sent home early is that you’re competent, right? And don’t bitch?

    Your new plan is spot on, but don’t be surprised if it lasts for far more than 2-3 days. If you’re good at it, it can last a whole career. Just ask the woman in the cubicle behind me who plays Yahoo games all day, every day…

  4. hihat Says:

    It finally looks like you have come to your senses. Why bust your balls for people who don’t appreciate the effort.

    Here’s another fun game you can play. See how long you can go without saying a single word.

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