The residents of Westside City were a mixed bunch, thanks to a dispute among the planners back when a large area of it went from unincorporated to residential. Sort-of. Supposedly, Fred Simons wanted multi-family housing while Martin Gonzales thought single-unit homes were better. Carol Jenkins said she’d abstain if pressed, while Mayor Cliffstone threatened to film the whole thing if the two gentlemen didn’t sit down and discuss things like humans instead of animals.
In the ensuing debates over taxonomy and zoning, no one thought to verify whether the United States Post Office planned to include the new area in its existing route maps. Ron Richardson didn’t mind; he’d been considering an easy employment since retirement and thought a contractual mail carrier fit the bill nicely.
It hadn’t been all butterflies and roses, of course. He was required to use his own vehicle; had to bend, stoop, and lift; and not many residents acknowledged his existence. Still, Ron had done it for ten years and figured he could handle all that for another ten. Then, the current city planning board called him in.
He and the three committee members, spaced at least six feet apart, were the room’s only occupants.
“We’ve been getting some complaints from residents,” Joe Schlepp said. He tried to look stern as he squirted his hands with sanitizer and rubbed them vigorously.
“Oh?” Ron rocked on his feet in an amiable fashion. His toes rested against a scuffed bit of blue tape on the carpet.
“Yes,” Carol Jenkins agreed, her voice muffled behind a paper face mask. She read over a printed page that waved slightly in her gloved hand. “One resident says her package was delivered to the wrong address. Another claimed hers never arrived…. Another says it went to the wrong house, and another, and another…”
In the awkward pause, Ron answered, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
Bob Spineless frowned. “Mr. -”
“Mr. Ron, we cannot have this level of irresponsibility from our mail carrier. If we receive any more complaints, we will need to consider offering your position to another applicant.”
The happy rocking stopped. Ron’s affable smile did not, although it tightened.
“Do you understand, Mr. Ron?” Carol should have known his real name. She had hired him. She had his name printed at the top of her complaints sheet.
“Sure. Sure.” Ron turned and left. The committee didn’t seem to notice. Not only did no one talk to him on his route, no one had really talked to him here. Apparently, they all only noticed problems, problems that were the fault of incorrect address labels and lazy post office sorters.
Each downside of the job came to him with each step he took away from the city government meeting room and toward the city government parking lot.
For an entire decade, he’d delivered everyone’s packages faithfully. Lately, he delivered everyone’s panic-buying supplies. He drove from before sunup to after sundown. He carried everything from canned goods to ammunition.
Ron exited the double-glass doors and descended the double-wide front steps.
Since he was a contractual mail carrier, he had no official vehicle. The post office workers treated him like a civilian. He saw their sideways glances and sneers as he picked up his allotted bins and assigned bundles every day, multiple times a day.
He unlocked his pickup truck and got in.
Contract workers didn’t have health insurance, either.
Reaching for his Big Gulp, Ron realized his throat felt sore. He felt tired, but maybe that was because he felt warmer than usual in the cold, April sun.
Continued at “Going Postal, V.”
©2020 Chelsea Owens