6 Ways To Support Postal Carriers & Delivery Workers
We’ve always been thankful for the letter carriers and delivery drivers who bring subscription boxes to our doorsteps, but it’s particularly top-of-mind these days. If you’re practicing social distancing and staying at home, you’re most likely relying on delivery workers to get essentials like meal kits and groceries, restaurant takeout, and perhaps wine in addition to your usual mail and packages.
The risk of catching COVID-19 through the mail is thought to be low, as the virus has poor survivability on surfaces according to the WHO in this statement from USPS. (That said, it hasn’t been studied very thoroughly yet. The WHO also recommends disinfecting surfaces if they may be affected, as well as hand washing after touching surfaces and avoiding touching your face. Many people are taking extra precautions by letting non-perishable packages sit unopened for a few days before opening.)
We wanted to know what we could do to help make deliveries easier, and to let our carriers know how thankful we are. We asked our regular delivery drivers (Thanks, Neil!) and our friends who work in the industry how we can help, and got a lot of good ideas (most of which are free and accessible to anyone). Here’s what we learned:
Keep A Clear Path
Several drivers we talked to mentioned that they are seeing more packages in their systems now than during their peak holiday season. This means they have more work to do than ever before, so making delivery as efficient and safe as possible is particularly important right now!
One easy thing that you can do is to be sure your carriers have a clear path to your mailbox or porch, and eliminating anything they might touch on their way to dropping off your mail. If you have a fence, consider keeping the gate open. Make sure your sidewalks and pathways are clear by keeping yard tools and children’s toys out of the way. In warmer weather, take care to keep landscaping pruned and generally keep your pathways safe.
It’s also a good idea to try and keep kids and dogs indoors during the times when deliveries usually happen, if possible.
Schedule Pickups for Large Packages
I was particularly concerned about outgoing mail; we have some bills we can’t pay online, and sometimes product returns that need shipped or care packages we are sending to friends. Is it still OK to leave packages out to pick up, or is it better to drop mail in a post box when we’re out on a walk?
Our USPS carriers didn’t mind picking up letters, but did recommend scheduling a pickup if you have a package. This helps make their routes more efficient, since they can drive straight to your door and won’t need to carry your outgoing packages up and down the street while they work on delivering mail.
Avoid Signature Delivery, Or Make Sure You’re Home
Now is a great time to waive signatures on packages, especially if you’re working from home anyway. Try signing up for text alerts on your tracking number so you can be notified quickly, or simply post up close to the door and wait if you can.
Of course, it’s not possible for all signatures to be waived, such as on alcohol deliveries or for very important and high-value packages. Many people are ordering wine online for the first time and aren’t aware that signatures are required for alcohol delivery! In that case, the most important thing you can do is be home to accept your package; otherwise your driver will have to leave a note and haul the package back to the truck, adding time to their route.
USPS is temporarily adapting their signature procedure and will sign on your behalf (in your presence) to ensure contact-less delivery. We haven’t heard of other carriers adapting their signature policies yet.
Share Excess Supplies
Gloves and hand sanitizer are in short supply, and you can’t expect that your local post office is stocking their carriers up on these products. Our local delivery workers already had their own personal stashes in their trucks, but mentioned that some of their peers hadn’t been able to find hand sanitizer in stores. They confirmed that leaving extras out with a note to take some if needed was an appreciated gesture.
For Paid Services, Tip Generously
Ordering take-out for delivery through a popular service like DoorDash? Tipping extra is a huge way to show your appreciation. Consider how much you’d spend if you were dining out, and the convenience of not needing to leave your home. Many delivery workers are contract or gig workers who rely on tips for most of their income; going above and beyond is the best way you can show your support, should you choose to use these services.
Just Say Thanks
Our carriers were all thrilled to talk to us about how we could help support them. With social distancing recommendations in place, it can be easy to fall into avoiding the gaze of other people on the street. A smile, a wave, and a thank you goes a long way! If you can talk to your delivery folks in person, feel free to ask if there’s anything else you can do to help them, too. Your local area might have unique needs that are different than what we’re seeing here.
If you don’t typically see your drivers face-to-face, try leaving a sign on your door! It’s a fun project to do with kids to help teach empathy and thanks. There are also plenty of artists and designers making free versions to download right now, like this one from Pittsburgh designer Alternate Histories.
How are you saying thank you?
I’m definitely making a sign with our kids tonight to hang on our door. Any other recommendations to share?