Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Plan for the USPS (Suggestions and Opinions)

Save America's Postal Service
On Tuesday,September 27th, the area Roanoke postal worker unions are planning a "Save the Postal Service Rally" in downtown Roanoke. We will be meeting on Franklin Road between Williamson and Jefferson. Various concerns ranging from plant closures to 5 day delivery and local postal employees would like the general public to be aware of what seems like endless politics locally and even nationally during the USPS' most dramatic hour of need.

So I have a plan to save the USPS. It may not be popular preaching from a union point of view but its the USPS we trying to save not necessarily jobs within the post office.

 If you're a coworker of mine or any other random USPS employee and you:
A)Don't own a computer
B)Run from technology
C) Do not know what terms Google,eBay, or Window's 7 is.
D) Do not use email

 you are well past the eligibility requirements to should be forced to retire from the USPS as it progresses aggressively towards the future. I use the term progress aggressively because the USPS has a LOT of catching up to do in the 21st century. So unless you are willing to learn and understand,not to mention embrace technology in the business sector of your job. Please...enjoy retirement! Save me a spot down at Shady Oaks. I'll catch up with you in 2035. We'll talk about the old times....

Let's pause for a moment to give the reader a great example of how the USPS suffers from modern business practices through the use of technology. I was hired by the USPS to work in the Roanoke P&DC in March of 1997. Shortly thereafter I began training to begin qualification to operate certain mail processing machinery (flat sorters and parcel sorters). Now, if you're on the outside looking in,i.e. not employed by the USPS,brace yourself. My training was being done on an Apple IIe computer! Yes! That's not a typo! Families have internet in their homes by 1997 and there I was being trained on one of the first ever personal desk top computers. 

Several weeks ago the company Lockheed and Martin did some modifications on a parcel sorting machine in Roanoke,VA and we had a meeting to discuss the new improved modernization's of the machine.  A rep from Lockheed and Martin explained to us that the circuit boards removed from the machine were so old that they were no longer even made. He cited it was as if you went into Best Buy and asked where they sold the 8-track players. And that is a great parallel to where the USPS is today from a technological stand point. We are still dabbling in 8-track players while ALL our customers are looking for digital music services.
In other words. We are a failing service.We are no longer needed. So why then would the USPS be so reluctant to change and modernize its efforts to keep up with the competition and demands to modern delivery services? Simple:

We simply never needed to. Our volume of mail was so high that it was like fixing something that wasn't broken. A well oiled machine that needed no maintenance. Let the good times roll. The USPS offers a universal service and its standards of delivery was about to meet its ultimate enemy. The World Wide Web. When you are the tortoise in a race full of hares eventually your slow reluctance to keep up with the modern weapons of "warfare" (in our case,declining delivery volumes) Will catch up with you with rapid pace. Technology is  extremely and rapidly ever changing. And so does the way our company conducts its business. The USPS has,in a lot of ways,failed to keep up. We (the USPS) are a sleeping giant. We reign supreme in total volume when compared to our competitors. Its time to awaken the sleeping giant. Here's how....

Our outlook: First and foremost its time we say goodbye to letter mail. The internet has crushed away the need to send letters,bills,bill payments and greeting cards. Its time to embrace the fact that these letters and more importantly the revenue in which we receive from these letters is gone. And its not coming back. End of story.Every year we lose millions and millions more letters than the previous year. This trend will continue. That's a fact! You,the USPS employee, should not in any way be shocked to hear that even your coworkers never buy stamps anymore. Its just that convenient to use the internet for paying bills and sending eCards. Now,even though its true that our bulk business letter volume is up and thus the revenue is up in that department the fact of the matter is first class letter volume and revenue is the absolute life blood of our plus or minus in profitability.

The Plan: After we throw a going away party to our first class letters we need to start looking for ways to generate a new life blood in order to survive.   I suggest a huge emphasis on parcels. Our two major competitors (UPS and FedEx) seems to thrive on their business plans and rely solely on parcel delivery for their life blood. So why shouldn't we? Companies such as J-Crew,,Home Shopping Network,QVC, etc. should be our best friend. Companies mentioned here and the thousands more that ship their products is who we should be working for. Making an ever trusting commitment to deliver their goods. Offer incentives,discounts,service standards.

Every flat rate box being shipped at 10.95 is the equivalent of almost 25 first class letter stamps. Priority shipping rates is the new wave of the USPS future. We should have business minded employees that go from shipper to shipper and recruit their business. Make them offers they can't refuse.

The Roanoke P&DC has 12 letter sorting machines and yet only has one parcel sorting machine. I think employees of the USPS should envision a day where that ratio is reversed. In every surviving plant we have. 
There is a generation of 20 somethings right now that will never set foot inside a post office. They simply don't have to. Even if they are customers of ours they still use their computers to print postage and pay bills. And of course we come to them to meet their shipping needs. Its time to acknowledge this. Ask a 20 something where the nearest post office is and watch them pull out their smart phone a to look it up on google maps. But even this generation and the next shops online. What company will tap into the shipping needs of the thousands of online retailers? Hopefully the USPS. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This week the USPS made major headlines across the country. A study is currently being implemented in 400 of the 500 total processing plants nationwide for complete closure. I so happen to work in one of the "targeted" plants. The Roanoke P&DC is just one of the 250 possible closures that will be taking affect in the future. So, of the 400 being studied,roughly around 150 will be spared (for now;Plus or minus a plant or two). Keep your fingers crossed that we employees in Roanoke will be off the chopping block. 

Personally speaking this news doesn't really cause me that much stress. I am in a unique position where my employer does not have the power to lay me off (yet). We are protected by unions and are guaranteed a job with a no lay off clause in our contracts. Thus, If the Roanoke P&DC were to in fact close its doors, my job will simply be moved to a processing plant that will be appointed to absorb our mail volume. This will either be Richmond,VA or most likely Greensboro,NC. The USPS will basically say. "We're moving your job to Greensboro and if you want it, I suggest you report there on this given date." 

Again, although is this a huge inconvenience to me (seeing how I JUST moved to a new apartment a month ago), I will simply accept my new assignment and move to where my job takes me. Simple. 

I guess the problem lies insomuch that this is not all about me. Many of my coworkers way of life will be completely uprooted. One might suggest destroyed. I work with 300+ other people. And its simply not that simple for everyone to just drop their way of life here and relocate some 80 miles away. My personal postal family circle will be broken many times over. Some will retire,quit,or (attempt) to commute to new location. All this is much easier said than done. I have known my postal family for almost 15 years now. I work with some outstanding people. To think they will no longer be a coworker due to attrition is sad and troubling to me. It's no exaggeration to suggest that my postal family has had the good fortune to watch me grow up. ( I started in Roanoke as a young 21 year old).

So even though I feel very little stress over an uncertain future for my job, I do feel my coworker's stress and sadness. Not to mention grief. I hope we all stay optimistic and hold our breath as we hope (and as some will do....pray) that our plant will be spared. We work for a company that loses billions of dollars annually,and I understand from a business perspective that major changes must take place in order for the USPS to survive. I think the USPS is finally coming to a realization that it operates in a stone age way of doing business. They are trying to sell 8 track players to customers that listen to digital music. We had a meeting in our plant this week and in the room in which the meeting took place I was scanning around the room and observed that of the 70-80 coworkers present.....I was the youngest guy in the room. I'm 36. And the USPS is finally starting to acknowledge that there is a generation that's coming up behind mine that will NEVER set foot inside a post office. They wont have to. Our services are no longer needed unless you're shipping packages. And with billions of letters lost.... It stands to reason that the jobs will be lost as well. Its business. And its understandable. But by closing plant after plant and office after office....Wouldn't that drain the motivation for current and potential future customers? It's quite a conundrum. It's the USPS!

Stay tuned.... <fingers crossed for Roanoke VA,24022 :)>

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11,2001

When I arrived home from work at 7:00am on September 11,2001 I did something I never do once I walked through my door. I cut on my TV. For some reason or another I wanted to watch the morning news as I sat down to check emails and surf the web. By the end of the day the history in which I just witnessed would forever change our lives.
 This week the entire country has been reflecting on the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I too have been in a very reflective mood. I have spent many hours over the last ten years watching footage of that fateful day from clips and tributes on youtube and TV,but this week I wanted to take a look at the aspects of all the conspiracy theories that are floating around. I've never explored the angles of everyone that feels that 9/11 was contributed as an inside job or at least our government had prior knowledge. I can't say that I'm completely convinced that a conspiracy was involved. But I have had my eyes opened to many of the facts about that day that just simply doesn't add up. 
Some facts that doesn't make sense:
- According to the 9/11 Commission Report, none of the 4 flight recorders (black boxes) were ever recovered.
    ~Black boxes have been recovered in our most deepest oceans and you can't find them among the Ground Zero ruble? 
    ~Bone fragments the size of finger nails were used in the identifying of victims but yet two flight recorders went missing? (I don't think so)

-World Trade 7 building collapses at 5:30pm on Sept. 11th despite not being damaged by the Twin Towers or being hit by a plane.
    ~So for the first time in history a steel structured building collapses from suffering through an office fire. 
    ~ The conspiracy theorist believes both Twin Towers and building 7 were controlled demolitions 

 Some even more bizarre theories include that the Israeli Central Intelligence Agency was behind the attacks and the hijackers were already in control of AA flight 11 before the plane ever left the run way. 

Anyone can investigate these theories through film and video all available online. I'm not subscribing to every belief out there but its curious to how an event of this magnitude and scale could have all been orchestrated from the caves of Afghanistan. And despite the questions that will never be answered concerning September 11,2001 the mood will remain the same. Grief. Grief for the victims and the families that must live on through this terrible event in our world's history.

I hope you take the time today to remember..... 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cable Be Gone

I lived the first twenty one years of my life without cable TV. Yes, my poor deprived childhood! Go to my old neighborhood  and you'll notice that even to this day. September 2011, there are no cable lines that run through the community.It's not as though my parents were cheap or had the desire.... cable wasn't even an option for those poor folks that lived down on the county line. I suppose when you live in such a rural area you should consider yourself lucky to have running water and electricity. No cable probably explains why I grew up playing games and sports. Of course having two brothers around helps that greatly as well. Our outlets were sports and fighting each other since there was nothing on TV.  
 The day I moved to Roanoke,VA all that changed. Cable! I was in heaven....well...heaven as far as I understood it at the time. The plan was to only leave my apartment when it was time to go to work. MTV,VH1,CNN,ESPN,ESPN2,Comedy Central....the list was too big to recall. A total step up from back in the day of channel 7,10,and 13. Plus a very fuzzy Fox network. I would come home from work in the late 90's and do nothing but watch TV. Take a nap, watch more TV and head off to work again. and repeat the process countless times.  
 Over the course of time (headed on 15 years) I have slowly gotten away from watching my beloved cable-vision. These days my TV generates a very small percentage of my electric bill. I recently said this week that the only time I need cable these days is 8 weeks a year when the four tennis majors are in full swing. 
  The US Open started on Monday and I have yet to watch a match on TV. Why!? Well....Last week I moved to a new apartment and I decided to give up the world of cable (an experiment). Paying over 1200.00 a year for an eight week sports package is a little extreme wouldn't you say? Cable has run its course (for now) and I will return back to my roots and live a life without what seems like hundreds of channel options. Oh,fret not for me, my options online and Netflix and Hulu should keep me busy enough for the next few years. So long cable...Hello freedom!