Become a Part-Time Rural Mail Carrier

If you're already trying to establish a homestead, working as a substitute rural mail carrier can provide a source of income while you're getting up to speed.


| May/June 1981



069 rural mail carrier

A part time position as a rural mail carrier is something to consider if you're making a transition to self-sufficient country living.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Working for the U.S. Postal Service—with its tightly structured rules, regulations, and schedules—might seem to be the most unlikely way possible to escape "the system." But wait! Part-time postal work could turn out to be exactly the sort of I'm-still-my-own-boss employment that you've been looking for! It requires no investment or expensive training, nor any special skills (other than common sense and a little physical dexterity) ... and you might even be able to choose the number of days you'll work per week!

Naturally, such lenient qualifications aren't applicable to all positions in the Postal Service, but they do apply to my job: I'm a substitute rural carrier. In other words, I deliver the mail when the regular postman or -woman is sick, goes on vacation, or has a day off — events which occur about 50 times a year on my route, or almost one day a week. My schedule, then, provides some cash income plus the time I need to get our farm going!

A Full Schedule

On the days that I work for Uncle Sam, I'm as busy as the devil at a revival meeting! First, I get up at 4 a.m. to do the daily chores that are too heavy for my wife and children to handle. Then I drive 27 miles into town, arriving at the post office about 6 a.m. Right away, I pick up my mail from the bins where most of it has already been sorted, according to routes, by the clerks. (They've been on the job since 2 a.m.!) My first task is to "case" the letters by placing them—in the order that the mailboxes come up on my circuit—in pigeon-holes in a seven-foot-tall cabinet.

Getting the mail in order takes me anywhere from two to three hours. When the chief clerk calls out "all up," I collect the last batch for my route, case it, and then—somewhere between 9:00 and 9:45—pull all the mail from the cabinet and tie it into bundles so it will stay in order while I'm out on the road.

Depending upon the size of the day's load my deliveries will require up to three hours to complete, so I'm almost always back at the post office shortly after 12:30. There, I case up all the mail that arrived while I was out on the route ... and that's it for the day! No hassles, no wasted time: I come in, do the work, and leave as soon as it's finished.

And the pay isn't bad, either! Actually, the salary differs slightly for each route, based on the mileage and the number of mailboxes involved. For an average 40- to 50-mile rural route, a regular carrier will earn about $18,000 a year (plus overtime when the workload requires more than 40 hours a week). Part-time pay is proportionate to that amount. When I include the mileage allowance for the use of my car while delivering the mail, I figure I make the tidy sum of between $60 and $70 per day.





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