So. Back to lallygagging. I believe we have dispensed with the idea that mail carriers are lallygaggers just because they show up later than people think they should. How could such a preposterous slander have come about? Whence this calumny, sir?
Maybe it’s because so many carriers look like shit. They truly do. We are provided a decent allowance every year with which we can refresh our outfits, and by rights you’d think we’d have a professional-looking crew.
Something about the job attracts people who disdain authority and defy societal convention and if one of those conventions is personal hygiene, so be it. Dishevelment has been elevated to an art form. These are people who can wrinkle Permanent Press. Our greatest practitioner of the slovenly arts, who never spent his uniform allowance and looked like he was wearing a tailored snot-rag, once bid a route out of the station and got chocolate icing on his shirt from the good-bye cake, and when he came back two years later, it was still there. Hey, Pigpen had to grow up to be somebody.
So when you see our postal representative shlumping down the street at a dead trudge, wearing an untucked shirt turned sickly green in the belly region from the ink on the magazines, pausing with one foot raised over your cherished shrub to finger a handful of letters, you might be forgiven if you thought: Not America’s Finest.
Here in Portland our standard-issue letter carrier wears a non-postal wool cap, a non-postal hoodie, bright sneakers, and leggings under the shorts. They’re comfortable. And they don’t care what you think. But they do care about the mail.
Some of them really are lallygaggers. So there’s that.
But even the sludgiest letter carrier at least presides over a certain amount of new mail every day and makes it go away, hopefully into some of the correct receptacles.
I never went to one of Dave’s job sites but I know he worked hard. He’d come back home in his coveralls looking like a powdered donut or the world’s tallest dust bunny. Or he’d still be on fire. Just the fact that he could pick me up like I was a potato chip—and I’m solid—indicated he was operating actual muscles somewhere.
Most of us simply do not know what other people do all day. We guess, and not charitably. We get the part where we intersect with them, say, when our mail comes sailing through the slot, but after that our imagination falters. When we spend an hour on hold on a customer support line, we’re certain Ernestine is on the other end filing her nails, but she’s probably not. Because if you finally reach her and say “I’m not blaming you, honey,” she will burst into tears and tell you three-quarters of her life story with emphasis on the last week. She is a deeply misunderstood woman.
A large number of people these days go to work in the coffee shop with the same laptop they play Wordle on. How can you tell if a Systems Analyst is working? How would we know?
I try not to cast nasturtiums. I don’t know what they do, but I do know they have to do it all the time. They are never out of touch. Their relationship to their employer is umbilical. They never get to punch off the clock. That has to suck.
And I can’t talk. Lallygagging is built right into the writing business. Witnesses, if I allowed any, would see me staring out the window as much as at the computer screen and I might play a Sudoko once an hour just to straighten out my neurons. It’s like picking up the corners of my brain and whipping it in the air until I can fold it properly. It probably doesn’t look good. What in the world is she doing to earn her money, my witnesses would grumble.
Oh, honey. There’s no money.
If anyone is looking for a job with lallygagging built into it, try driving a concrete mixer. Years ago, Paul got his CDL so he could drive a truck. (He had this notion of “getting a real job” as opposed to restaurant work.) He’d get the load of concrete, drive to the site, and wait. And wait. Until finally they were ready for him. Lather, rinse, repeat. He got a LOT of reading done while working that job. He went back to the restaurant business because the trucking just didn’t pay as well, plus there were frequent lay-offs where he had to go on unemployment — which pays even less well. He started delivering pizza while laid off for the last time, and found that he made more in tips during those few hours a night than he made all day driving the concrete mixer. He loved it up until the point when he was robbed at gunpoint at a “set-up” pizza delivery. Went back to actual restaurants, where that sort of thing is less likely to happen.
That concrete truck driver job sounds awesome, actually.
Sounds a bit like what convinced my brother-in-law to quit driving a Good Humor truck — robbed at gunpoint. About the cement business — we used to have a couple of cement companies in our area with the slogans painted on the side, “Get a load of this!” and “Find a need and fill it!” But I haven’t seen them in years. So much gravitas now…
It’s when we haven’t seen our brother-in-law in years and the cement trucks are still operating that we need to worry. A friend of mine once thought it would be cool to run an ice cream truck and quickly discovered that rival ice cream truckers were like the Mafia.
I will say in my own mail carriers defense, he dresses like he’ll be posing for one of Norman Rockwell’s artworks later. Everything about Jim is regulation, he’s also as nice as they come. Well, in the late 1970s I began my first job at a Pancake and Steak House in jeans, a navy blue t-shirt and white apron. From there I moved up to a shirt and tie at a home improvement store for several years while in college. After that, it was a suit, briefcase and London Fog raincoat for 20 years as an IT analyst, and my final 10 years were Dockers and short sleeve button down as casual Friday took over the entire work week. I do miss those suit days, but not enough to trade in drawstring pants and t-shirts which make up my wardrobe now!
I basically wear pajamas all the time now, just like my cat.
There is a reason why I’m not a well-dressed man: my clothing starts to rot every time I put it on. In the summer, I often get asked when I return from my route, “Jeez, Mike, did you run through a sprinkler?” I wish! My entire skin is a sweat sprinkler! (For that visual, you’re welcome, and enjoy your lunch.)
Some of us transpire more than others. I gave up wearing Gore-Tex in the rain after my first try — I got as wet from the condensation on the inside as if I’d been out in the rain in a tee shirt. High-tech fabric my arse!
Paul rides a bike a lot, and has found that natural fibers (merino wool in winter, cotton in the summer) are so much more comfortable and have more ability to wick away moisture than “high-tech” fabrics. Sure they cost a bit more, but they hold up better as well. He has merino wool socks that must be at least ten years old, and I have only had to repair ONE in all that time. Which is good, because I hate to sew.
I just bought myself a couple thin merino t-shirts and promptly snagged one of them. The other one itches a little. I’m bummed out. I might keep trying though. They WILL last forever because they cost so much I hardly wear them.
Oh Saint Mikey, I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it. Bless yore damp heart.
I was raised having two types of clothing, ‘Nice Clothes’ and ‘Play Clothes’. “Take off your nice clothes and put on your play clothes before you do that!” was a common admonition.
I think that work, per se, or just being alive, per se, requires play clothes. Nice clothes are for sitting around or visiting or church, but not getting much done other than looking ‘nice’.
Nah…. The trouble with having a “nice” set of clothes and an “everyday” set is that most people never ever wear their “nice” clothes because they are waiting for a “special occasion” that never seems to manifest. My feeling is that if you’re still alive and feeling reasonably well, that’s special enough. I wear my “nice” clothes with impunity… even when I am cleaning the house. (They are just dresses — not sequins and high heels!) For the record, they are much more comfortable than my jeans, although I DO wear THEM for gardening, simply to keep my legs covered from bitey things.
Haha I work in the constructions trade, in the office, but still. I realize I’ve reached perfection in dress “code” where my work clothes and my play clothes are the same! But I do find grungy things for gardening. I have some standards.
I think the line between work and play (if not sleep) clothes has been blurred by the pandemic. I’d like to wear nice clothes, but I can’t seem to put them all together. I’m always missing proper footwear, or something. I love wearing dresses and skirts though. I must solve the footwear issue…
Ballet flats (easy to put on and take off) or even Doc Martin type boots. The boots get a lot of compliments with the dresses, especially since I wear them with lace-trimmed socks. (I LOVE putting contradictory stuff together.) The pandemic has made me actually dress better than previously, as now my main social events are running errands and garage sales. And life is short, and they are only clothes.
Yeah, I need to just go find me some shoes. I didn’t get the Shoe Gene. I have about ten pairs of shoes total and don’t wear seven of them.
Oh, Murr, you can cast nasturtiums my way anytime, as long as I can keep sending you my best bird pics every once in a while. ♥️
I guess it’s a bit like always having to be bright and cheerful for the customers who have no idea what goes on in the background of the job and if you have any problems that don’t relate to the job, the boss doesn’t want to know about it. Suck it up and plaster on a smile. No Lallygagging, there’s dozens of customers and only two checkouts open, because the budget doesn’t cover opening all fifteen of them.
…but it’s your fault, right?
I attended a training class yesterday to be a poll worker during this year’s July primaries and November election. The states of dress were remarkable. One gentleman approximately 102 years old had jeans so droopy they puddled around his heels, barely clinging to his buttless hips. I tried not to picture the chicken-bone legs inside. Draw-string sweatpants were chosen by 3 people. One lady dressed up completely in purple, including her shoes and her dyed lavender hair; apparently, she was an ambassador for all political parties. It was a privilege to be among them, truly. The instructors created a sense of good cheer, well-being and can-do. Good stuff. Ordinary people, like USPS workers, showing up to do the work this society needs. That we were all wearing some kind of laundry seemed achingly tender.
Thank you for this uplifting comment, Susan. [heart heart]
“Pick me up like a potato chip”!!! That’s the best line ever. 🧡
Our carriers always look at least OK, often spiffy. But they’re all driving postal trucks, so the sartorial stress is low.
Yeah. They might even not have pants on. I remember driving a half-ton big box truck when I first started–on a “mounted” route, meaning box to box and no walking–and the seat was so high and the window came down so low that one time I accidentally fell out of the window trying to reach a very low box. That, in fact, is what got me started using a seat belt all the time.
I always defend my writerly self by saying that while it may look like lollygagging, we writers are always “writing in our heads”.
Truth be told, I’m always amazed when I see that I’ve actually created some tangible output!
Yeah. That “writing in our heads” is absolutely true but from the outside it looks like there’s nothing in your head at all, and you might possibly need help getting across the street in traffic.