Getting paid whilst riding a motorcycle sounded like a dream job, so recently I dragged myself out of retirement and took on a role as a Postal Delivery Officer with Australia Post. Not working had become boring, and extra cash is always useful.
The job would be part-time, five hours a day, five days a week, working out of a depot very close to my home, meaning I could earn money and get fit by walking to work.
From day one, however, it was obvious that this was not going to be the job for me.
I’d managed to pick the wettest few months in living memory to start this new job, and for the first four months had to contend with heavy rain on a daily basis. Now I’ve never been good with repetitive tasks, and riding the same route day after day whilst being saturated very quickly became tedious. Not all wet weather gear is actually waterproof.
The previous weeks of constant rain had also made the ground very boggy, and the steep, sloping nature strips covered in thick grass and clover became tricky to negotiate. A fully-laden Honda CT110 with its narrow tyres and low weight can have a mind of its own when asked to carry heavy loads over dodgy ground, and on my run there was a dearth of level ground and precious few footpaths to be seen.
Another bone of contention was the micro-management each PDO was subjected to. With run times calculated to the minute based on the number of small letters, large letters and unaddressed, or “junk” mail carried, it became a race each day to finish on time.
Apart from the weather, repetition and management style there was another ever-present source of frustration.
Horrible, boring people with nothing better to do than give the Postie a hard time. Spiteful characters who would think a bucket in a tree counted as a mailbox, then complain when their mail was found soggy and stuck together.
Folk whose idea of a suitable depository for their precious letters was a PVC tube cable-tied to a fencepost, or an empty LPG cylinder with a slot cut into it sitting on a brick wall.
An ice-cream container nailed to a tree, vertical steel tubes shaped like chimneys, stylised tin cows, plastic drink bottles, laundry buckets, rotten wooden boxes and holes in rock walls. I dealt with all of these and more as I raced against the clock to deliver my precious cargo.
When the mail got wet because their bucket didn’t have a lid the customer would complain.
When a magazine needed folding to fit through a tiny slot the customer would complain.
When a parcel was left under cover on the front doorstep the customer would complain.
Complaints, complaints, complaints.
Vindictive in nature, thoughtless by design.
Look, if you want your letters dry get a sealed mailbox. If you want your magazines in pristine shape get a big mailbox. If you don’t want your parcel stolen get a locked mailbox.
I lasted six months.
I take my hat off to those folk made of sterner stuff still doing the job.
And I give a small nod as my Postie rides past.