By Annie Stockwell
While we are all stuck in our homes trying to keep ourselves busy, the post office on 25 New Chardon Street is still operating. As they vigorously wipe down their stations, mail carriers are preparing to deliver our bills and love letters while six feet apart.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Anne Collier, known as Annie to her customers, usually began her days from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the post office on 25 New Chardon Street. As a mail carrier, she would organize the mail by street and then by number. This would take about three hours, after which she and six other mail carriers would begin delivering mail at 10 a.m. on Beacon Hill. Annie would start her five hours of delivery on Chestnut Street. She would continue her route on Lime Street, Brimmer Street, and finally River Street. Along the way, Annie was accustomed to seeing the friendly faces of her customers, until the streets became empty.
To Annie the coronavirus outbreak has made some days feel like seconds, and others feel like years. Fortunately, Annie’s workday has only been extended by twenty minutes because of the extra health procedures being taken. Sanitizing her work area, the scanners, and anything she touches may seem tedious, however, Annie will not take any chances. “I wash my hands so many times a day, and I always have gloves on,” she says.
She explains her worry of contracting the virus, saying, “I worry about it every single day, and I live with my daughter upstairs from my elderly mother, and my worry is that if I bring it home and I ever give it to my mother, that she will most definitely not survive.”
Throughout the day, Annie, like most of us, is wearing a mask and gloves. Due to the mandated social distancing, Annie has been directed not to come in contact with any of her customers and to sign for their packages herself. However, when she leaves a package at a door, she doesn’t know if it will end up in the hands of thieves. Annie says, “I also worry too, at times like this, when you are just leaving stuff because you’re not coming in contact with any customers, and unfortunately people pray on that, and they see the packages out there and they grab them.”
She emphasizes that the volume of mail has decreased a significant amount since the outbreak. Annie explained how it has been estimated that first-class mail has been cut by two-thirds. This decline in the amount of mail has affected the revenue of the post office negatively.
“We are in essence delivering only a third of the amount of letters we normally do,” she said. While the amount of mail has decreased, the number of packages continues to increase. “Before, I would have about thirty small packages per day to deliver, but since then, that number has nearly doubled,” she said.
Since the purchases of stamps and packages generate large amounts of revenue for the post office, the increase in packages being delivered is what is keeping the corporations in business. The post office is self-sustaining, meaning they do not get any money from the government. Unfortunately, when there is less mail, there is less money. Luckily, the amount of mail being delivered does not affect Annie’s pay.
Although the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted Annie’s normal day, she looks forward to the muffled “hellos” from under her customers’ masks. She says, “My customers are normally always in a hurry and they would just wave, but now people are stopping, standing six feet apart, but asking how I am doing and everything and they seem very concerned about me which makes me feel really good.”
In addition to her conversations with customers, people have reached out to Annie with gifts to express their gratitude. She lists some of the gifts she has received recently, saying, “Customers are asking if I need anything like more masks or gloves or any supplies. One customer ordered me pre-wrapped cookies, another customer gave me a $20 gift card to the Paramount, and a woman made me a homemade mask as well. Another woman gave me a bottle of wine which I enjoyed at the end of the day.”
She says numerous customers have expressed concern for her, and her family’s health. “Some know that I have an elderly mother, and they ask how she’s feeling,” she says.
The work of Annie and her colleagues has certainly been seen by Beacon Hill. “My customers see that I am out here trying to get the mail and packages delivered that they need. It feels good to be recognized by them.”
Annie Stockwell lives in Beacon Hill and is a sophomore at BB&N.