During my last days in High School I was
fortunate to obtain a temporary job with the United States Post
Office during the Christmas Rush.
I reported to work the week before the Holiday at the massive
building located on Federal Square. Once inside I was instructed
to follow a group of other temps. We wound up in the basement at
the foot of a chute from the loading dock. Standing ankle deep in
mail we were handed snow shovels and instructed to load it on the
conveyor belts, which transported into the vast confines of the
structure. Standing there with the snow implement in hand I thought
of the US Post Office motto "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat,
nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion
of there appointed rounds" as we shoveled mail against the
seemingly endless tide.
Chance had it the next day I was assigned to sorting letters of
outgoing mail. Standing in front of a large wooden bench with pigeon
holes at the rear. Each box was labeled for one of our states. A
large one for New Jersey and another for Newark, one for territories,
possessions etc. and foreign. That was a welcome respite from shoveling
mail. It was slow at first but soon you got into the rhythm as to
the location of the respective boxes. With each passing hour the
task seamed to get easier, practice makes perfect.
We worked from eight AM to six PM with one half hour for lunch with
two 10 or 15 minute breaks for coffee or cigarettes if you smoked.
We were paid 25 cents per hour for $23.70 for the week, a munificent
sum for those days.
Working in the distribution room under the constant hum of the
overhead conveyor belts time rolled by. One day a large package
fell from one of the overhead belts and hit one of the temps, knocking
him unconscious. He lay on the floor until Newark City Hospital
Ambulance attendants placed him on a stretcher and removed him from
the premises. Being temps we never knew what his fate was. That
was the only unpleasant thing that happened during my brief performance
with the United States Post Office.
Merry Christmas to all.