The Way We Work Now

Being a Mail Carrier Right Now Is Unsustainable

‘If the post office was already on fire, the pandemic threw kerosene on it’

Mai Tran
Published in
4 min readOct 8, 2020


Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

The Way We Work Now is a series chronicling how people’s lives and careers have fundamentally changed because of the pandemic.

This 45-year-old anonymous mail carrier has been working for the United States Postal Service for more than 10 years. He spoke with Mai Tran about the mail delivery slowdowns this summer that sparked outcries nationwide.

If the post office was already on fire, the pandemic threw kerosene on it. We’ve always had a manpower issue. Mail delivery has been suspect — we had issues with our postmaster general making swift, drastic changes and giving us little information. The pandemic is just the most recent hindrance.

Out of over 100 employees, we’ve only had two to three cases of carriers contracting Covid, and they isolated, recovered, and have been back since then. We’ve never had a spreading event, and management has tried to keep us informed. When we case, or sort, mail, we’re inside of a bookshelf with two wings that separate us from the person to our left and right. If you’re in your case doing your job, you don’t have to worry about being in anybody’s face or breathing anybody’s germs.

Once Covid became a topic, the post office made a leave policy where, if you, a loved one, or someone in daycare or school is affected by Covid, you can take time off and get a percentage of your pay without worrying about discipline for not coming in. They have been very lenient with allowing people to take whatever precautions are necessary to adjust to the pandemic, but it led to a manpower issue. It’s a domino effect. If there are any hiccups or delays at the processing plant, it ripples down to the carriers; the more we have to wait on mail, the later we sort and the later we’ll be out.