Everyone knows that the postal workers seen on the road deliver the mail – this is their prime responsibility.
However, how many know just how much more a postal worker does? The answers may be surprising. This week the focus is on the men and women of the Brittons Hill Post Office.
Norman Moore has spent more than three decades in postal work. As one of the veterans, he has done much and seen more and knows a “postman” has a vital role to play.
“This job has a lot of satisfaction. On the road, you are mostly respected, especially if you are accustomed to a neighbourhood, even in the so-called bad areas. I can talk to a youngster who is doing something wrong and he will say, ‘Okay, post’,” he said.
Moore said a postal worker had a responsibility to the public – not just to deliver mail, which in itself is a very important role, but to help take care of people as well. While this is not written among their duties, he said this was something which naturally happened to someone like a postal worker, someone who regularly visits a neighbourhood and can know people in it better than the people who live there themselves.
“Years ago you could ask anybody for anybody but now you can live next to somebody and don’t know them. A lot of the time you have to do humanitarian work in a neighbourhood. I remember I had to help an old lady off the floor a time; she had fallen and when I went to the house I heard her calling. These are things that have been happening for years, but are things the public don’t know,” he said.
Shanelle Beckles recounted a similar tale. A woman in the service for ten years, she said helping others was an unofficial part of their job.
“Last week an old lady was about to go into a diabetic coma. I went there delivering mail and she begged me to get her something sweet so I did. Then I went and brought food for her,” she said.
Beckles said the postal service was not a bad place for a woman to work. She said she was a people person so it was a natural fit.
“I love meeting people, getting the mail out on time and helping out my office however I can. The only thing is that sometimes a person whose house you are going at may be in a mood,” she said.
Marcia Taitt-Mellows has been a postal worker for 26 years and has had an eventful time. She recounted a few of her more interesting moments.
“My bike was one of the first to get stolen back when people were taking them. I was inside sorting mail and back then we didn’t have fencing so a guy just came up, waited until everyone’s back was turned, then got up on my motorcycle, snapped the neck (broke the lock on the steering), and moved,” she said.
This greatly inconvenienced Taitt-Mellows, who said she had no choice for a while afterwards but to do her rounds on foot.
“It was tedious. My district is the Deighton and Paddock Road areas and to walk with bulk mail was very tedious, especially when we had different types of shoes back then,” she said.
But this would not be her most harrowing experience. She said other drivers had little respect for motorcyclists, although she admitted some of them were doing foolishness on the road. She told Street Beat of the time she was almost killed.
“I was turning right into a gap when a guy overtook a bus that was behind me and hit me. I got knocked off the bike and had to spend the next nine months in the hospital,” she said.
Despite all this, Taitt-Mellows said she loved the job as much as ever.
“When I started, I liked that I was treated like a man, no special treatment, and it gives me the opportunity to meet all walks of people. I love that I am my own boss on the road and I think every piece of mail is important because that person may be waiting on a bill to balance their budgets but you find some of the younger workers are not really committed to the job,” she said.
The baby of the group, Troy Hunte, has been a postal worker for seven years. He said he saw the job as his way of giving back to society. The only thing he said he did not like, however, was the hot sun.
“I love to assist. We help people pay bills, cash cheques, even cross the road, and we know people; it is one of the best jobs in the world,” he said.