Sunday, 23 January 2011

A postman's follies.

Royal Mail postmanImage via Wikipedia

I thought I would give you a rest from the fishing and save the best of these stories for my book that is three quarters finished.

I worked as a postman for ten years after I left the sea, so here is some tales from those days.

After working the long hours at sea I used to tell the postmen who complained about their job, that I considered it semi-retirement, it being easy with an eight hour shift in comparison to the dangers and long trips at sea.

In my first year I was to learn that certain dangers occurred at work for postmen too, (And women. Better remember political correctness.) although not producing the more serious consequences that the fishing held should you become lackadaisical while carrying out your duty.

I started in the village of Patna where I had lived for about fifteen years and knew every nook and cranny of it due to the compactness of it,or so I thought, never realising that I had to do the outlying part (farms etc.) with a van, but with training I managed to pick it up pretty quickly.

It took time to perfect the job, boxing in all the mail and delivering it to the correct addresses and the correct streets, plus delivering any parcels after the mail had been dispatched, but as the weeks went on I became very efficient and my confidence grew.

I would hurry my rounds, working out of the van which meant I never needed to carry any heavy bags, not that it would have been any problem to a strapping lad like I was then, but I was glad of the bag on this particular day.

I was scurrying around as usual quite relaxed when I approached a door that I knew a large dog lay in wait to snatch the mail from my hand, but the owner had placed a box behind the letter box, more to protect his mail rather than protect the postman. I always used to laugh to myself at the thought of the dog growling frustratedly as it attacked the back of the door so violently that at times I thought it might manage to barge through it and get to me.

Anticipating the usual melee behind the door I skipped down the path with a twinkle in my eyes, when all of a sudden the Alsatian dog charged from the back garden of the house and was upon me in a flash.
All I could do to protect the private part of my body that it had lunged at with teeth bared and saliva drooling was to put the mail bag in front of them for protection.
It seemed to work but after a savage bite at the bag it took another lunge and grabbed my leg just missing the vital part I had just protected, and it was only when the owner appeared and called it off did it let go and run off.
My defensive instincts turned to anger and the smoke began to steam out of my ears as I stupidly chased the animal down the path from whence it came, swearing to kill it and its owner if I managed to lay my hands on them.

With the dog locked safe in the house again (not sure if it was safer for me or the dog at the time)I turned my anger at the owner who threatened to report me to the post office manager.
"ARE YOU STUPID!" I shouted, "I am reporting you and your dog to the management and you will be lucky if both of you are not put down, the dog with the vet and you by me!"

That is the mild version.

With that I returned to my van, and it was then that I saw the blood seeping through my trousers, so I made a hasty retreat to the local post office to report the incident myself.

Jim the postmaster there, was on the phone when I entered and lo and behold it was the owner of the dog complaining about my language, and while listening to him, tried to calm me down as he had observed how angry I was and knew the cause of my anger was at the other end of the phone.
When he got off the phone he told me to go the the doctors for a tetanus injection and not to worry about the owner of the dog as it was him and the dog that was at fault.
Well, worrying about any threat from them was the farthest thing from my mind but I did calm down by the time I reached the doctors, and with the evidence from the bite on my leg for the doctor to witness, the police paid the owner a visit.

I was told by them after, that a dog is allowed one bite and if it repeats the deed, only then will it be put down.
The wound healed fine after a couple of weeks but the deed festers inside me to this day, and I detest dogs. (My apologies to responsible dog owners.)

I blamed the owner as much as the dog and once I had calmed down I never really wanted the dog destroyed. As for the owner weeeeeeeell I had to think hard about that one. ha ha.
You would have thought it would have taught me to be more careful in the future, but during my first year as a postman I was bitten five times of which I might divulge the details to you next time, but you will understand why I was not over the moon when my niece announced recently that she had purchased a puppy as a pet for her children. ha ha

Puppies grow into dogs and postmen become a hate figure of them simply because we invade their territory,or so they tell us during training, but it is hard to convey a message to a dog that is hanging off your leg that you are only trying to deliver a letter to their owner.

Nowadays its usually junk mail or bills that is delivered, so who can blame the owners now, if they allow their dogs to chase the poor postman who, after all is only doing his job, a thing the owners should remember, including my niece,if they love their dogs, as the consequences could be grim for both the postman and their dogs.

As for my temper...................MY BARK IS WORSE THAN MY BITE GRRRRRR!

Top photo (Me in my postman days with a budding helper.)

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  1. There really is no good excuse for an owner not controlling their pet. I can understand your distrust of dogs -but my Lily would never bite you!

  2. You are a responsible person Heather, in all walks of life, the world could do with more people like you.

  3. heather i`m a postman in northern ireand and i`ve been bitten about a dozen times.

    still remember my tetanus shot (trousers don`t come down these days) but as far as the "my dog wouldn`t touch you" goes. i`ve heard it all before.

    once the dog has taken your leg off, the owner would say "you must have been teasing it".

    we posties just can`t win. i too was bitten at least 5 times in the first year!

  4. I can understand your distrust of dogs after all those bites Donald. We had a lovely labrado who was very gentle with us but would go ballistic when she heard the postman. We kept her behind closed doors at such times "just in case"!

    I often wonder how the postman sorts all his letters and parcels in the order that he delivers them, great organizational skills I suppose! Wonderful post as usual Donald. Take care and Cheers!

  5. Hi Ann There is a frame at the post office for each delivery and the letters are slotted into a space allotted to each address, after all the letters and mail small enough to fit is sorted it is taken out in the order it has to be delivered. As for any packages they either have to be remembered when you come to the correct address or as I did, put a card that is used if the package cannot be delivered among the mail for the number then you kill two birds with one stone. You remember the package and if no one is at home you have the card ready to fill in. A handy tip for any postman who might read this.

  6. Oh Donald, your story brings back memories…

    My husband delivered mail for 37 years; retired in 2006.

    Here in the States carriers have to case in a certain amount of time and be on the street, have to scan every package and turn it in at end of day, etc.

    Customers will call in and complain if a carrier forgets to put the red flag down, or they put it up so they know the mail has been delivered.

    And don't even get me started on the dogs.

  7. Yes I can imagine Maxi, your husband will have some tales to tell about the dogs on his round among other amusing stories.

  8. Oh my! What a long story about being a postman! :D Are all your stories henceforth going to be about being a postman? No fisherman stories anymore?? :) Godspeed on your new book, cap'n! :)

  9. There will be more fishy tales Charity but there could be more long stories about when I was a postman. Stay in touch and find out what comes next ha ha.