My Post Office Experience
In 1980 I was made redundant. My job had been as an Assistant Sales Manager for a wholesale meat company in Smithfield market. That was bollocks really. I was a glorified “checker.” I checked thing in and I checked things out. With my dodgy background this was the perfect job. Lots of large pieces of meat left the depot without me “checking” them out. So a lot of people had a lot of free meat. All they had to do was pay me for my poor checking skill once a week. I made a lot of money. But nothing lasts forever and for the first time in my young life I was out of work. I had recently got married and we’d bought a house. Bills had to be paid.
Jobs at Smithfield were scarce and a “normal” butchers wage wasn’t great. Buying a shop somewhere didn’t thrill me as I knew that the Supermarkets were gradually taking over. So what to do?
I had a good mate that was a Postman. He said that the basic wage wasn’t fantastic but there was ALWAYS plenty of overtime and it was easy money. I liked the idea of working for the Post office, not for the job itself, but because I was sure there must be a way of nicking loads of parcels!
I went for the “test” and the interview. The test was the easiest thing I’d ever done. Basic maths and an “observation” test. Every paper had to be completed in a certain time. The guy in charge had a stopwatch. He told us when to start and when to put down our pens. The observation test was so simple I actually started to laugh when I saw it. For example there were three pictures of a pushbike. One was slightly different to the other two. You had to put a line through the one that was different. One of the pushbikes had no handlebars the other two did. That’s how simple it was.
There were a dozen of us taking the test. We had to wait until someone marked them and if we passed we would be called in for an interview. NINE people were told to leave as they hadn’t passed. I can only assume that they were complete morons!
My name was called and I was escorted into a room where three people sat at a desk. This was the “interview panel.” All this for a poxy job as a Postman.
There were two men and a woman. All in their late fifties. The two men sat either side of the woman. All three smiled as I walked in. The man on the left of the three spoke first.
“Please take a seat.”
I didn’t. I thrust out my hand over the desk and waited for him to shake it. He looked rather taken back. But he put his hand out and we shook hands. I then did the same to the other two. The woman had a smile as big as her face. I wondered if she had a feather in her knickers.
“Nice to meet you all.”
Then I sat down.
“Well Mr Lawrence, you did exceptionally well in the test. Why do you want to be a Postman?”
Were they fucking serious? Firstly, a deaf and dumb blind dog should also have done well in the test and secondly IT’S A POSTMAN, not a rocket scientist! I played along and looked sincere.
“I got married recently and have a mortgage to pay so that’s the first reason. But also because I feel that working for the Post Office is providing a crucial service for the public. It’s important that people get their mail as soon as possible.”
Then I quickly added.
“I can also get up very early!”
Jackpot. They all smiled and nodded their heads.
The other man spoke.
“I’m sure you would be very good at it. I’ve quickly read through your application form and can see that you’ve had a lot of experience dealing with the public.”
“Yes, pretty much since I was fourteen.”
Now it was the woman’s turn.
“Look, can I be honest with you? I think you’d be more suited to the admin side of the business. How do you fancy sitting the test for the Counter Clerks position?”
I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Not quite sure what that is.”
She smiled. A big warm cuddly and slightly flirtatious smile. Maybe it wasn’t a feather after all. Maybe it was something much bigger.
“There are a number of sides to our business. There’s the Post and then there’s the Counters. You know when you go into a main Post office to but stamps or pay a bill or something?”
“Well the person that serves you is called a Counter Clerk or a Postal Officer to give them their proper title. I think you’d be perfect for that job.”
“Is it more money?”
“Yes, quite a bit more.”
“Yes plenty. Because you have to work Saturday mornings, you get a day off in the week. There’s always a branch somewhere that needs extra help during the week.”
“Okay, I’ll take it.”
I seemed to have said something extremely funny because the woman started to laugh. Whatever WAS in her knickers was obviously working.
“It’s not quite that simple. You have to sit another test. But, judging how you’ve done in this one, you should fly through.”
“Great, when can I sit the test?”
“This afternoon. We’re holding them at two o’clock.”
I left and said I’d return at two o’clock. It was now midday. I had two hours to kill. There was only one place to go. The pub.
I had three or four pints and then went back for the “Counter Clerk” test. This time there was a room full of people, maybe twenty five or thirty. We each sat at a desk and were given some tests to do. They were only SLIGHTLY harder than the Postman’s test. I finished and then waited. Within thirty minutes more than half the class were let go. They’d failed. They were also morons, but better educated ones.This left about a dozen of us.
My name was called and I went in for the interview. The same three people sat there looking at me. All smiling. The woman having the multi orgasms spoke.
“Welcome back. You passed.”
I sat down.
“Thanks. What happens now?”
“We’ll get you on a training course as soon as possible. Unfortunately the London one is full but there’s one in Edinburgh that starts in two weeks. You okay to travel to Edinburgh? We pay for your travel and lodgings of course. It’s Monday to Friday so you’re home for the weekends.”
“Sure. How long’s the course?”
I was silent for a moment. Did she just say thirteen weeks?
“Sorry. Thirteen weeks?”
“Yes, but not all in one go. You do a couple of weeks at a time then we send you out to Post office for some practical experience for a while. So all in all you’ll only do about six weeks at the college.”
I left and went home to tell my wife the good news and the bad news. Good news was I got the job. Bad news, I had to go to Edinburgh for six weeks!”
But fate was on my side. Three days later I got a telegram. It said that due to illness a space on the London course had become available and I had to report to Featherstone Street in London the next day.
Great news. But all I kept thinking was “How on earth does it take thirteen weeks training just to learn how to sell stamps?”
Boy, was I in for a big surprise…