Neither wind nor...mail sometimes
Neighbors say delivery erratic
When Johnie Coleman of Hyde Park didn't get his mail one recent drizzly afternoon, he went looking for the mail carrier. The retired ironworker donned his coat and hat, took up his walking stick, and hiked several blocks to Huntington Avenue trying to spot a mail truck.
Some time later, he headed back home - no mailman in sight.
A letter carrier, a kind-talking fellow, was spotted about an hour later delivering on Ayles Road, getting in and out of his truck at each house - short stops and starts.
Getting the mail is a problem in some parts of Hyde Park these days, where complaints about inconsistencies in delivery run long. Some residents on Hyde Park's mail delivery route 2 - which includes Wood Avenue, Joyce Road, Rosa Street, and part of Westminster Street - say the letter carrier comes, but not every day. Others say they get mail every day, but not at the same time. And some say they get mail daily, but not delivered by the same carrier.
"It's disgraceful," said Betty Criss, an 81-year-old retired social worker who has lived on Westminster Street for 25 years. "I stopped complaining because it doesn't do any good."
Hyde Park has not had a regular letter carrier for three months, and the route is apparently unpopular among workers.
"It does not appear to be a preferred route," said Robert Cannon, spokesman for the US Postal Service for Eastern Massachusetts.
Residents say letter carriers tell them the route is too long and that some are working it on overtime.
Cannon said the manager at the Hyde Park Post Office is aware of the complaints and is working to address them.
Since the last regular letter carrier left route 2 in Hyde Park about three months ago, others without regular routes have filled the gap.
Letter carriers bid on routes through a seniority-based process. The route first goes up for bid at the local post office, and if no one wants it - as is the case with this one in Hyde Park - the route goes up for another bid in the Greater Boston postal district.
In the meantime, residents are frustrated.
"All these years I've been here, we've never had a problem like we are having now," said 78-year-old Beulah Caines, who has lived on Joyce Road 33 years. "I don't care if we get the mail after noon, just as long as we get it - every day."
Coleman, a 20-year resident of Humarock Way, said he noticed the inconsistencies in mail delivery about two months ago. "I noticed that some days we get the mail and some days we wouldn't," he said. "It was like every other day."
He said he started checking with neighbors on Wood Avenue, Ayles and Manion roads, and Westminster and Lewiston streets, and they had the same problem.
Coleman said he would see different letter carriers delivering mail, and when he questioned them, they told him no one wants the route. Coleman got an 800 number from the Hyde Park Post Office to complain and gave it to neighbors.
He said things got better, until Jan. 25, when he got no mail.
"It's important for people to get their mail," he said. "There's no excuse for it. You can't tell people there's no personnel."
Caines was also getting the word out. Around Christmas, she said, she noticed her mail wasn't coming regularly, and sometimes the letter carrier took the mail back to the post office.
"The mail is supposed to be delivered every day, and not brought back," said Caines, who called the Postal Service's complaint office and the consumer affairs office. She even distributed notes to people on her street to call and complain.
"I really don't want people to lose their jobs, but management has to do something," she said. "I understand the route is too long, but they either need to break it up or put two people on."
Mark Oliver, a firefighter who has lived on Ayles Road for 16 years, said he gets his mail every day, but at inconsistent times.
"A couple of times, I came home after 5 in the evening and the mail is not here," he said.
"You don't mind if it's a holiday, you might get the mail the next day, like the trash collection when they double up," he said. "But on a regular five-day workweek, if it doesn't get done consistently, what's your excuse for that?"
Cannon, of the Postal Service, said most of the complaints are from residents of Humarock Way, Joyce Road, and Rosa Street.
He acknowledged that letter carriers face challenges on the route - where there are single, two- and three-family houses. During the winter, there is the "darkness factor," he said. Carriers sometimes bring mail back to the post office because they had difficulty reading names on mailboxes or could not access mailboxes because of icy or inclement conditions, he said. "Sometimes a small section of the route has to come back to the office," Cannon said. "But what they do is to deliver it first thing in the morning."
As for the route being too long, Cannon said that Hyde Park is an eight-hour route.
"It's an average letter carrier route," he said. "It went through the same assessment program that every other route in Hyde Park, and the country, went through."
On Thursday, Cannon said that a full-time regular letter carrier will be assigned to route 2 as of this weekend. The carrier, who is from another office, will be there indefinitely, Cannon said.
Caines is taking a wait-and-see approach. "They sort have been saying that to us," Caines said of the Postal Service's plan. "I don't want to say that's good. . . . Every time we settle in . . . the mail doesn't come."
Meghan Irons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.