Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back at USPS

On Wednesday, something happened to me that has never happened before – I was asked to not go through with my resignation, which as of the 20th I had already submitted. Let me back up and fill in some details. As I had mentioned in earlier posts, my 70-some-year-old postmaster, Helen, had been off work since the beginning of September. Helen takes the blood thinner Coumadin, which by some weird twist made veins in her left arm bleed and cause a painful bruised limb. Helen also has a blood clot pressing on a nerve in her upper left armpit that puts her hand to sleep. She was hospitalized Labor Day weekend in September for several days, then went on sick leave and I worked six-day weeks as her relief (my position title is Postmaster Relief - PMR) for the next eight weeks until Halloween week.

Against her doctor’s recommendation, Helen returned to work, which meant I worked only in the mornings helping to lift tubs and trays and with mail sorting; all of which she could not do. One of the many job requirements for all who work in a post office is that they can lift 70 pounds, which she’s not been able to do in recent years. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to work 2 or 3 hours was just not worth it to me. Also, Ian and I have been discussing going to our home in Spain and being there for long stretches of time. OK, then why am I working when I could be focusing on selling more horses, packing and getting ready to spend time in Spain? So, on November 10, I gave Helen my written resignation that would be affective December 20. I also began working the standard PMR shift, Monday and Saturday mornings only. I did tell Helen I would be available if she went on full-time leave again and for any days when she has doctor appointments or doesn’t feel well. Because Helen could not do the morning sorts, she asked Dan, a neighboring post office PMR, to work the few weekday hours.

Dan and I are friends outside of work and when I visited him Thursday morning the 20th, he said there was a new person at the Stanchfield Post Office and that Helen was going on leave again. Needless to say, I was confused and shocked. I called and spoke to Helen, who informed me that it was her last day for many weeks and she had brought in Linda as Officer In Charge (OIC) from neighboring post office Mora. I asked why she hadn’t called me and she said she thought I didn’t want to do it, blah, blah, blah. I decided why wait til December to resign and I offered to turn in my keys that day – she accepted. This is the tale I did not go into in the earlier post saying I’d left USPS.

My feelings were hurt. In September, I’d dropped everything to go to Helen’s aide. There had never been any issues with me being in charge – in fact, I’d gotten things accomplished (reports files, etc.) that Helen hadn’t because she didn’t understand how to do what was needed on the computer. Why hadn’t Helen called me? I have finally come to realize that it is not important. I enjoyed several days off with days infused with joy and hunger to regain habits I’d given up – like writing, visiting friends, attending performing arts, etc.

On Tuesday, the 25th, Linda called me. On the day I’d counted out my cash drawer and turned in my office keys, I’d told her that I would wind up any last needed details on the 28th when I collected my final check. Linda asked if I would consider staying on as PMR for at least the weeks she was there managing the office in Helen’s absence. When an OIC is installed there is no coming in part days, as Helen did when I was there. She is officially off until she is fully capable to return to her position. Very diplomatically, Linda said she thought what had happened with Helen not contacting me, my abrupt departure, etc. had been wrong. She was also very up front with the fact that she was in a pinch without adequate back up to run the office or with someone to deliver mail, as I am also a Rural Carrier Associate (RCA) if a carrier is sick or takes vacation. It was her frankness that led me to say yes. Linda quickly put the wheels in motion to find my resignation paperwork and rip it up. My keys and badge were returned to me on the 28th. I worked my usual Saturday shift and will work as fulltime PMR December 2-9, RCA on the 17th, PMR again 18-22.

I have not forgotten that joy infusion and am working to fold creative events back into my life so that I don’t have all of my outlet eggs in one basket.


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