The United States Postal Service (USPS) has faced many challenges this year, from increased mail due to the pandemic to the loss of federal funding. So what does a day in the life of a postal worker look like during these turbulent times?
John Dunsmuir, a postmaster from the Oxford post office, said his job and daily tasks have changed a little this year, and that the postal service is working to overcome more recent struggles.
Some aspects of his job include managing employees in areas such as mail distribution, as well as overseeing the implementation and administration of certain programs. He prepares fiscal operating budgets, ensures quality service and mail security and meets with customers regarding any concerns they may have.
Typically, Dunsmuir arrives at work around 7:30 a.m. and reviews the previous day's numbers. This allows him to see if everyone is performing as expected.
“I start pulling reports to find out why we may have not hit a target that we were supposed to,” said Dunsmuir. “Normally, this doesn’t happen. We usually hit our targets here in Oxford.”
Shortly after this, Dusnmuir and his supervisor do an “operation clean sweep.” This is where they check every area to make sure there is no mail left behind right before the mail carriers leave.
The rest of his day mainly consists of going through emails from customers and reaching out to them about their questions or concerns.
After 22 years of government service, Dunsmuir began his job as an Oxford postmaster in January of this year. This left only two months of normalcy in this position before the pandemic affected post offices across the entire nation.
He credits Oxford with getting through these tough times, saying it is a great place and unlike any other community he has ever worked in.
“I am very proud and fortunate to be a postal worker. It just makes it even better that it is in Oxford. Oxford is a wonderful community to be a part of,” Dunsmuir said. “People are so nice and caring.”
In fact, he mentions one of the biggest challenges due to the pandemic is that he can’t talk to local business customers in person as easily anymore.
He used to walk down the streets of uptown to see how the postal service could help make local business prosper.
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“I can still do it over the phone,” Dunsmuir said. “But I like to be out there in person so I can visit their stores, they can show me what they do, and I can potentially help them with any of their shipping needs.”
On top of that, social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and window shields are a few of the changes the postal service has had to adopt.
In fact, Oxford was one of the first local post offices who put up window shields at the counter when the pandemic began, which presented a different experience for customers.
Overall, following the CDC guidelines has been the biggest change within his daily tasks, just like it is for most other people.
“I don’t think anyone predicted that we would have to live in an environment where PPE is the norm,” Dunsmuir said.
Along with implementing new safety procedures, nationwide news stories report how the government is currently suppressing postal services in a year of a U.S. presidential election.
Still, Dunsmuir declares he has had no interruptions in regards to his job of serving the public.
“As far as it goes for me, I have not seen any changes, and I’m not aware of any stifling,” Dunsmuir said.
Despite the government seeming to have little negative impact on the Oxford post office, extra precautions and limitations on gatherings have affected employees. However, quality service and availability remains a top priority.
“Pandemic or no pandemic, the postal services will always be there for our customers with a high-level of service and commitment, ” Dunsmuir said.
Even during the pandemic and chaos surrounding the upcoming election, Dunsmuir expressed his gratitude for his customers and the entire city of Oxford.
“I would like to thank the wonderful customers and businesses of the Oxford community for their unwavering support,” he said. “We see it, and we very much appreciate it.”