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The other subs and I worked out a plan for me to have today off. It was a good plan and it didn’t work. It doesn’t matter what the plan itself was, but it was foiled simply by an unexpected sick call. I wound up back on R5 today after getting a call, not from a supervisor but from another sub, at 8am.

The explanation that follows is a bit convoluted because the events were complicated. Hopefully you’ll be able to follow enough of the story to get the point that’s in there somewhere, I think.



Let me tell you how much I was looking forward to my day off. See, I haven’t been able to do anything for my wife’s birthday because of my crazy work schedule, plus I wound up sick there for a couple of days as well. Her birthday was February 5. Today I was supposed to make her birthday dinner. I had other plans too and I was about to execute them, beginning with breakfast at the excellent Sunflower cafe when my cell phone beeped.

Ann was standing at R5’s case having just arrived. One of the regulars called off and this had thrown our plan out of wack. In fact, this pulverized it. The only unassigned sub has been sick, which is why I didn’t have yesterday off. I was unscheduled on Wednesday but volunteered to work for Tina because she was in bad shape on Tuesday. When I told Tina that I was doing R5 for her, she tried to refuse, saying, “You can try to schedule another day off but then someone else will call out on that day and you’ll be screwed.” I don’t think she knew she was prophesying.

When I got to the PO this morning, I told Ann that I would do R5 and she could do the two smaller routes (8 and 9). Ann is the best of the subs but that doesn’t matter on R5, especially when you don’t do it often. She was reluctant, but the prospect of getting off of R5 is always stronger than any reason to stay on it, even money.

Later, when she was leaving for the street, Ann said to me, “Someone else should get screwed for a change. It’s always you.”

It was then that I remembered Tina’s comment from two days before.

Yes, I suppose I could have left Ann on R5. I could also have refused to come in at all, as she suggested when she called me and as the senior sub (whom I shall call Brad though that is not his name) would certainly have done. But here’s the thing, whenever you refuse or fail to show up for a shift, or when you take shortcuts and leave mail unsorted at the end of the day, or parcels in your hamper… you get the idea, you’re putting the screws to someone else. That someone else is probably a sub because the regular carriers are all but untouchable. Whenever something goes wrong or gets left undone, it is usually a sub that picks up the pieces. And the subs who are lower in seniority pick up more of those pieces than the other subs.

Brad, the most senior sub, was very helpful to me when I was  brand new, but over the past year or so he has become steadily more ruthless, conniving, backstabbing, and generally bitchy. He is in a word, a jerk. I think I’m beginning to understand why jerky people get that way. Sure, many jerks were probably born that way, or at least they’ve been that way for a long time. I don’t know what made Brad into a jerk, probably it was this job, combined with other factors. The type of situation that occurred today arises weekly at the PO. Over the years, Brad’s had to grind his way through lots off similar stuff. Maybe it got to him after a while, but he wasn’t this way when I met him two years ago. In fact, he was a pretty solid guy.

It is getting harder and harder for me to avoid becoming like him as he is now. It’s not that I see myself transforming into a sleezoid, but Brad probably didn’t count on it happening to him either, and look. When this kind of crap is a regular occurrence, how do you keep yourself from turning to stone?



The coda to today’s story is that I approached the supervisor and asked him to call Tina in to do R5 for me tomorrow. He said, “I don’t think I can do that.” Why not? Because the same regular carrier that called off today took tomorrow as well. I reminded the supervisor that Brad is that guy’s sub and so Brad would be assigned to that route and this should not affect me or Tina. The supervisor replied, “Brad can only work a half day tomorrow.”

I wanted to say, “Me too,” but restrained myself.





Jim says:

  • Our children will die - but hey, we get to keep our GUNS! 7 hours ago

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