Friday, June 26, 2020

My thoughts about mail

You guys know that I'm working a temporary job for the State of Arizona in the unemployment office.

When I saw the original posting for the job it mentioned data entry and some other duties like answering emails or phone calls from claimants.  

Nothing was mentioned about opening and sorting mail.

But that is basically what I've been doing since I started back on May 4th.

And my temporary assignment that was supposed to end June 30th has been extended to August 31st which I agreed to do so I'm working at least through the end of August there.

I'm not sure if you are familiar with it, but there are flat bins that mail gets delivered to businesses in.  The bins are probably about 20 inches long and 5 inches wide.  They hold comfortably the #10 size envelopes.  

At the beginning of the shut down when there was massive unemployment the office was getting 200 such bins of mail daily.  200 BINS! I'm not sure what they averaged before but I'm sure it was not 200 bins.

Obviously there was no way a small department could process that all so they got temps to help them.  

There are about 20 forms that come into the unemployment office but when we are opening mail we only sort about 6-8 of them and leave the others for the regular employees to sort through.  

Its repetitive monotonous work but its not stressful and it gets me out of the home LOL.  

But of course I have thoughts about mail as follows:

People fold mail incredibly wrong.  They have a regular size envelope that they could easily take the piece of paper and fold it into 3's to fit in the envelope but they fold it to the tiniest way possible so there are tons of flattening that needs to be done to get the mail to lay straight.

People want to make sure the mail is kept together with the various papers in the envelopes. They staple the papers together and then to ensure things don't separate they also put a paper clip on it.  I have to remove all paper clips and staples from mail being sorted.

Some people tape their envelopes shut so it is virtually impossible to open them without scissors.

Mail is dirty.  I've washed my hands a lot.  A LOT!!

Mail that is not the regular #10 size envelopes and odd sizes are called "uglies" because they can't be opened through the letter opener machine.  I never saw so many different sizes of envelopes in my life. The funniest one I saw was made from a brown paper bag from a local grocery store.  

Foil lined envelopes are very hard to open.

Nowadays we get the most bins on Mondays (about 20) and they get less in number as the week goes by.  There are 5 of us temps doing mail.  

The regular employees in the department work REALLY hard.  They are working 12 hour days Monday through Friday and 8 hours on Saturday to process the claims so people can get their unemployment.

They truly are heroes.

So next time you need to mail a letter, don't tape the envelope, don't staple the stuff inside, and don't use a foil lined envelope.

And if you pray, say a prayer for those hard working employees not only in the Phoenix unemployment office but any other unemployment office in any other state.  I'm sure it is the same any place where things were closed due to the lock downs. 


nashvillecats2 said...

Most interesting facts about mail Betty. Thanks for enlighening us.
I will take extra special care when picking up envelopes from the mail box.
Take care, and enjoy your weekend.


DUTA said...

Thanks for the tips. Very useful!
I'm sure you're going to learn some more facts about human nature at this kind of work.
Anyway,make the best of your time and enjoy life!

Bijoux said...

I did bulk mailings for two of my previous jobs, so am familiar with the bins. I’m surprised most of the unemployment isn’t online? I helped my daughter fill out her pandemic unemployment online and it took days!

jack69 said...

Thanks for the education, I would never have imagined that much mail at an unemployment office, I would have guess 1 or 2 bins. WOW and Yes about the taping, stapling and paperclips, I have seen that insecurity and can believe it. I cannot believe the crazy folding though. OUCH!
The best to you sweet lady and I am at least glad the work is not STRESSFUL, that is a big PLUS!
Love from here
Sherry & jack

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Unemployment continues to be a big problem so I'm not surprised your job has been extended. It does sound like a big challenge. Hand washing would be a must for sure and maybe face coverings too. Good luck and good health.

Martha@SeasideSimplicity said...

I am so thankful for people like you, all the others working hard in those offices, and all essential workers! I will remember your tips about the mail. Hope all is well Betty. Stay safe!

Mevely317 said...

"WOW!" is right! I'm guilty, both for stapling stuff and scotch-taping the outside. It doesn't taste like manufacturers are using enough glue. (Ick, I know, right?) Like my blog friend Rick says, "Every day is a school day."

Prayers lifted!

DMS said...

Glad they job is going well and gets you out of the house. :)

Interesting thoughts on mail. I like that when we do a job for a while we learn lots of things about people and the job that we wouldn't have known. I never staple or paperclip my bills/forms. I have learned at my own job what a pain it is because people staple or tape checks to forms- and every staple has to be removed. So- I can only imagine how frustrating it must be if you are opening as much mail as you are. I didn't know there was a letter opening machine.

Good luck to the people working on getting others their unemployment services. :)

Debby said...

That's interesting and I guess when you are sitting there opening up mail, you would have some thoughts on it.

Funny! I enjoyed it.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Wow, that was a lot of mail to go through. I'm glad that slowed down a little bit. Happy you can work through August. Thank for the information on what we shouldn't do. Praying for the workers.

Mary Kirkland said...

I knew this because I worked sorting the mail for an apartment complex that had all of its mail for 3 complexes come to one place and it was my job to sort all the mail for the 3 complexes. This was 20 years ago before all of this electronic payments so I made sure all the checks and money orders for rent got to the right place. People would staple their checks to papers and it was hard to get them free without tearing the checks and money orders.

Liz A. said...

Fascinating. Sorry it's tedious work. But it's great you have something to keep you busy, and bonus that your work has been extended. I bet the employees have been working hard during these times.

Wendy said...

Oh Betty, you're a hoot. Isn't it funny the things you learn or things you never gave a thought to before - like how goofy people can be with the things they mail. My sister does wedding flowers, and we both have learned a lot watching how people plan their weddings, where they put their money, especially those on a tight budget. Those are the people who always put their money toward something silly or meaningless like floral pew markers then want to skimp on centerpieces at the reception. Who cares about pew markers??? We set up a wedding today at a beautiful old farm. The outdoor ceremony is on a slope. The bride is expecting the 8-yr old ring bearer to push an antique baby carriage holding a 3-month-old infant down that "hill" to the wedding arch. No. 1 - no 3 month old needs to be in a wedding. No 2 - no 8-yr old boy needs to push a frilly dilly baby carriage. And down a hill at that!! What are people thinking??

Joanne Noragon said...

I laughed, all the way to heroes! I hope you have convinced people to do it right.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I didn't know that about envelopes, but I'll keep those guidelines in mind!

I've been doing disability evaluations and since Social Security was shut down for a while there is a terrible backlog.

Veronica Lee said...

Thanks for the enlightenment, Betty!

I will certainly keep these tips in mind.

Victoria Zigler said...

I'll bear those guidelines in mind. Although, I'm sorry, but I'm still putting tape on the envelopes. Why? Because I've had times when I haven't, and the result has been the contents of the envelope getting lost, and the empty envelope being delivered. I know the glue stuff on the envelopes is meant to be enough, but in my experience it often isn't. So, I'm sorry for making extra work for people, but I'm not risking my paperwork being who knows where while the people it's meant to reach get only an empty envelope.

yaya said...

I thought doing colonoscopies was dirty business! Ha! You win! Take care and have a good week!

Chatty Crone said...

I found that extremely interesting and informative- i really 't know all that.
My worry for you is hurting your body with any repetitive moments - opening so many.

Martha said...

It is a tough - and dirty :) - job!

Juli said...

Ah... the mail... I know it well. Daily I get 5-7 of those trays to deliver. Holiday it's 7-15 per day. And then there's the mail that gets stuck in machines because of pretty embellishments on the card inside that has to be hand sported. And the elastics/paperclips that people put on outgoing mail that has to be removed before dumping into the big bins for the machines. And the metered mail that must be separated from the stamped mail. The illegible mail that needs to be deciphered. The letter to grandma on elm street, that if you're lucky has a return address last name matching someone in the 60 homes on Elm St. And then the ones who think they are so creative and write all the addresses in red or silver, neither of which can be read by machines and all have to be hand sorted. Or worse, pencil, that literally burns off in the heat of the machines.

I have seen all types of envelopes and packages, from piƱatas with a label to coconuts with addresses in sharpie. The newest thing is the teeny envelopes they sell in hallmark which don't meet our machinable standards, so they may or may not get where they are going.

And don't get me started on packages.

And yes, mail is FILHY. The mail truck is an average of 20 degrees hotter than it is outside and has no way top move air through it effectively. It sometimes takes me two showers to get the sweat and grime off for the day. And I have permanent papercuts, thousands of them in the palms of my hands that the dirt has settled into permanently over the last 17 years. I have destroyed all of my clothes as they do not provide us uniforms.

I can't imagine what will happen when the vote by mail happens. As it is, for local elections, we are getting buckets a day of ballots. I would imagine it will also create a ton of temp jobs. :)

Pat Hatt said...

Oh, I get most of this and even more as I did the mail off and on for years and had to sort the mail, ship the mail, and open the mail at one of the places I worked. Sometimes it truly is a pain in the butt. That is a lot of hours they are putting in. Heroes indeed.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That was interesting. I know the unemployment agencies have been overwhelmed during this time in PA. It brought to light all the requests for updates and changes to the system that have been ignored for years. Who knows what will happen going forward and few people realize how hard those people are working. Thanks for pointing it out.

Big Mark 243 said...

… this was very interesting Betty... the things that we take for granted that goes on to complicate processes later on down the line... and people wonder why it takes so long to hear back from offices..! I am glad that you have your temp job and I hope that something long term is in your future..!

Jeanette said...

I don't staple and I don't use foil-lined envelopes but I am guilty of taping and envelope closed occasionally, especially if there is a check inside! I won't anymore though. I mail things so infrequently that I bought a book of stamps that probably will last me 2 years or more.

Susan said...

I enjoyed my visit here. I worked for the post office 36 years. When I started working their, 35 people would hand sort mail. With first phase automation it went to 16, then 12 and finally 4. Hand sorting can pull out mail that is bulky. But machines can't so lots of pieces would get ripped up because of the bulkiness of clips and other things. Yes mail is dirty because of the process. You guys do a tireless job, thank you!