Al is enjoying his new job. It’s very endearing, how enthusiastic he is about new things. I remember, after his first week as a shopkeeper, he came in and said “I don’t know why people say it’s stressful, running your own business. I think it’s wonderful!” Now, he’s appreciating doing a job that you complete every day. He finds it satisfying, that he starts off with a jumble of mail to sort, he puts it in order, sets out on his round – and he says that you have to concentrate, there are a good many parcels (Amazon and eBay are keeping the Royal Mail going) and he has to remember when to go to fetch a parcel from the back of the van, but at the end of the day he has an empty van and has completed all the work there is to do.
He’s finding it tiring, largely because of the early start. He sets his alarm for 4.45 every day. The advantage of that is that he’s home by 3 most afternoons, but he’s ready for bed well before 10 pm, and Al is even more of a natural night bird than I am. And although the round he’s doing at present is a rural one, so he uses a van, there’s a lot of getting in and out and he feels he’s used a fair bit of energy by the end of his round. He’s been mostly lucky with the weather, although he’s had a few rainy days – going by van is a disadvantage is some respects in the wet, there isn’t time to wait until the rain stops and his waterproof jacket wets the seat when he gets back in the van. Today, he had a puncture. It was not a good day. He had to change the wheel in the rain, and then had forms to fill in back at the depot.
On Saturdays, he starts even earlier. The round has to be finished in time to return to the post office by 12.30. I noticed, as I went through Yagnub last Saturday in the late morning that a postman was running along the road, obviously anxious to get all the work done on time. They work an 8 hour day but are only paid for 7, on the assumption that they will stop for breaks and lunch, but in fact there is no time for that, Al eats in brief minutes when he’s checking the post at the start of a road to know which houses to call at. If he eats at all, that is, he’s noticeably lost weight, and he was thin to start with. When busy, he forgets to eat or doesn’t bother. That used to worry me at the shop, at busy times of the year he didn’t bother to have a meal during the day, and then was too tired to eat much in the evening. But he seems robust, he’s rarely off-colour.