SANTA CLARA, Calif.—The familiar little white and blue mail truck stopped yesterday, and it came by today. People also can count on it coming tomorrow (unless tomorrow happens to be a Sunday).
Even in times of distress, the U.S. Postal Service continues to deliver, and people have expressed their gratitude.
As a result of shelter-in-place orders and other restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are ordering things online, making this a challenging time for postal workers.
Postal and shipping workers, including those in the private sector, are considered essential critical infrastructure workers under guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Dean Maeda, the postmaster in Sunnyvale, California, told The Epoch Times that the amount of mail hasn’t increased, but there are more packages.
“I’m not used to seeing so many medication packages, because you can hear it when it … shakes,” said Maeda. “And a lot of people are ordering with Amazon and other providers.”
He noticed that people are also ordering a lot of essentials such as toilet paper, paper towels, and water.
Gemma Purdy, who has been a mail carrier for 30 years, said she’s never seen this many packages at this time of year.
“There’s not much outgoing mail going on right now, but packages are kind of like Christmastime again, meaning it’s doubled or tripled,” Purdy told The Epoch Times.
The routes they drive for delivery are still the same.
Maeda said he expects there will be more mail in the form of letters if mail-in ballots are widely used for the November election.
As with many businesses affected by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, the Postal Service has seen a decrease in revenue.
According to Maeda, the pandemic presents different challenges for each employee; older ones tend to stay home, which is fine, he said.
“But it does still put a little bit of pressure on the rest of us that are here,” he said.
There are also other challenges delivering mail during this time.
“When I go out there, I’m open, exposed to the virus,” Purdy said. “We are following the guidelines, which is washing our hands frequently. Here at work, at the office, we follow the social distancing [guidelines].”
That means staying six feet apart from each other, and wearing masks and gloves.
“On my route, 90 percent are very kind and appreciative. They offer masks, sanitizers. The remaining 10 [percent], it’s like they’re fearful,” said Purdy. “From my experience, some of them look at me like I’m a big virus to them. So it’s like they don’t want me to go near the door or something. They just leave a note to put everything outside by the door.”
Javier Torres, also a mail carrier at the Sunnyvale office, has been working for 29 years. He said he got used to greeting and socializing with people.
“You get a bond with customers because they come out and greet you, especially some of the elders,” Torres told The Epoch Times. “With this [virus], it limits that. Everybody’s more cautious, including myself, with the distance and with the mask.”
It does make him a little nervous to know that some of the cardboard boxes have been shipped internationally.
“They implemented where we scan parcels that require signatures and ask the customer, with a distance, if they’re okay with us signing,” Torres said. “They allow us to sign, so that eliminates them touching it.”
He says customers have insisted on handing mail to him directly, and he had to repeatedly remind them to step back so he doesn’t get himself and others infected.
“I’m happy I wear a mask. I stretch out my arm as far as I can and grab it, because sometimes I’m on the street and they stop, ‘Oh, here, here’s a letter.’ And I’m like, ‘No, no, no, just leave it there, I’ll grab it.’
“But it happens once a day,” he said.
Gestures of Appreciation, Encouragement
Their support for each other and customer appreciation keeps them going.
“There is a lot of encouragement,” said Maeda. “A lot of people have stepped up and tried to help out. If we had people missing, they’d step up and help out.”
Customers have left gestures of encouragement for mail carriers.
“I have notes on some mailboxes saying, ‘Thank you, Javier, for your service.’ This one house has a big sign, ‘Thank you to all the carriers out there.’ I had, at different times, different people leaving a little ice chest with water for the delivery services with a ‘thank you’ on there,” said Torres.
“Also, after work, when I’m going straight to Safeway … I do get people thanking me for my service.”
The postal workers consider themselves fortunate to have a job that serves the community.
“I’m glad that I have a job and that I’m able to provide our service, because people need their checks and their medicines and their towels and toilet paper, and everything that they can’t find in stores,” Torres said.
“I just think the public needs us more, the postal service more than ever,” Purdy said. “I’m just so proud to be an essential worker and proud to be serving the public during this trying time.”