We used to have a postman who always brought biscuits for the dogs on his round, with the result that he was given a warm canine welcome. One of our recent postmen is very wary of dogs and little old gentle Tilly had to be shut away before he’d come in to have a parcel signed for. Al likes dogs and is used to them, but there is one at a farm on his round that is not to be trusted and he has to stay in the van and hoot the horn if a signature is needed. I remember once delivering leaflets in Lowestoft, I can’t remember what for – and there was a dog on the other side of a door who was determined to get my fingers and barked and snarled. I didn’t dare put the leaflet through the letterbox, so I walked away, delivered to the next house – and then nipped back and shoved it through quickly before the dog realised he had been tricked. When he did, he threw himself at the door and I heard a loud thump and a furious yowl. Heh.
Machines are indeed coming, as Blue Witch says, to sort the mail automatically, but they aren’t here yet. Al gets all the post for his round and then puts it in order. His initial online test before he had an interview was a sorting game, which any young man would find pretty easy, almost everyone under forty having been brought up on computer games.
Al’s uniform includes shorts – he wore trousers one day when it was raining, but soon found he was far too hot. He does keep towels on the van seat, but his waterproofs drip everywhere and it gets fairly messy. He is very pleased with his trainers, he looked up the brand and they would have cost him £90. He’ll get a pair of stouter shoes or boots for the winter too. They have Royal Mail on a red tag, so he has to keep them for work.
Our postman comes on a bike, and if there’s anything but the smallest parcel it is delivered later in a van. Al’s present round, though not far from Diss, is all small villages and a van is the only practical way of getting it done. When he was doing his training, he spent a day or two in Diss and had a trolley then. I don’t think he had any particular opinion of it one way or the other, but he wouldn’t have anything to compare it to. His present round really belongs to someone else, who is off on sick leave just now, so Al has it while he’s away. He may get another round, or he may fill in on other posties’ days off – apparently you apply for a round which comes vacant and the most senior person can get it, so that won’t be him.
Straightforward, useful, non-office jobs are what Al likes. Hard work and not very well paid, but that doesn’t seem to bother him. Zerlina and Squiffany were singing Postman Pat the other day and when it got to the bit “Pat feels he’s a really happy man,” I said to Squiffany “Is that why Daddy wanted to be a postman, because it would make him happy like Pat?” And Squiffany said it was. I think it was largely because he saw a vacancy and the timing works for him, because when he had the shop he was never home until well after 6 pm, but he’s certainly happy with it now.