Valerie Jacob is a fifteen-year veteran of the United States Postal Service, working the same route in Connecticut for the last nine years. She enjoys her job, and she can happily recall the weekend she began her current route in 1993.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DRIVE A MAIL VAN?
Just your driver's license and a clean record.
HOW DID YOU LEARN?
I went to vehicle training with an instructor. It used to be we had a few days of training up in New Haven with a lot of safety training. These days they run a Carrier Academy for three weeks and they drill you on all facets of the job, including driving.
WHAT'S IT LIKE DRIVING THE VEHICLE?
It's all mirrors and no rear or side windows, so it's a little awkward. You also drive on the right side so you can exit close to the house or mailbox and not on the street.
WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT YOUR JOB?
The independence. I'm in charge of my work even though there's still supervision from the branch. I enjoy talking to people, so the social element is good. There's room for different personalities, so if you're antisocial, you can get routes where you don't interact with a lot of people.
WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD?
Some of the dogs. The weather is a challenge. Ice is the worst: the slips and falls, twisted ankles, and the like. We can fill out warning cards for substitute or replacement carriers so they know where the problem spots are.
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