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14 Things Your Mail Carrier Wishes You Knew

You may be familiar with famous TV mailmen like Cliff on "Cheers" or Mr. McFeely on "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood." But what do you know about your own mail carrier? We’ve delved into the secret highs and lows of the job to compile this list of best postal practices.

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Be Friendly and Professional

Do you occasionally glimpse your mail carrier from the window but rarely meet face-to-face? Make an effort to learn your postal worker’s name and wave hello when your paths cross, but keep chitchat to a minimum. After all, these are professionals on the job. Respect their time and their service.

Related: 11 Selfish Reasons to Make Friends with Your Neighbors

Check Out the USPS Website

Are you unsure of how much postage to put on a stamp or which envelope to use? Your first stop for postal rules and regulations should be the official USPS website. You can learn all sorts of information—for example, did you know that it’s prohibited to ship perfume and nail polish abroad? And if you’re wondering when a package will arrive, you can track it on the website.

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Keep Your Mailbox Clean and Safe

Help keep your mail carrier out of harm’s way by taking care of your mailbox. Keep it free of wasps and other dangerous critters that occasionally make their homes in dark, dank mailboxes. Even if it’s mostly a receptacle for junk mail these days, regularly dust it off, sweep away cobwebs, and air it out. Also, never use a mailbox to store spare keys.

Related: 10 Reasons Bugs Love Your Home

Beware the Hidden Hazards

Those garden gnomes and croquet hoops are accidents waiting to happen. Keep the path to your mailbox clear of obstacles, paying special attention to hoses and other tripping hazards. Program your sprinkler system around mail delivery times to avoid giving your mail carrier a surprise shower.

Related: 10 Ways You’re Killing Your Curb Appeal

It’s Not Just Dogs

USPS reported over 6,000 dog attacks in 2017, but mail carriers encounter other hostile animals too. Cats have been known to guard mail slots with outstretched claws, and at least one mail carrier had a run-in with wild turkeys. Keep all pets restrained and make sure they’re well socialized.

Related: 10 House Hacks Every Pet Owner Needs to Know

Address Disagreements—Respectfully

Remember: Mail carriers have the right to withhold mail, or even stop delivering it. Typically, however, they do this only in cases of extreme danger or disrespect. If you have a concern about your mail or parcel delivery, share it politely with your mail carrier in person. If you fear speaking your mind may cause conflict, contact the postmaster at 1-800-275-8777.

Related: 12 Things You Don’t Realize Are Annoying Your Neighbors

Don’t Send Cash

Those birthday cards with $20 taped inside? Probably not a good idea. Sending cash through the mail, particularly large amounts of it, can be risky. If you don’t insure the cash and it never reaches its destination, you’ll end up saying goodbye to your money, When you want to send someone money, your safest bet is to use e-payments or online gift cards instead.

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Resist the Lure of Chain Letters

Chain letters requesting money in return for remuneration violate Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute. If you receive a chain letter, alert the post office. Write on the envelope: “I received this in the mail and believe it may be illegal.”

Related: The 50 Strangest Laws in America

Keep Your Envelopes Pristine

Clips and staples can used on mail placed inside envelopes but not on the envelope itself. Keep the envelope simple: Put your return address in the top left corner and the recipient’s address in the center—be sure to include the ZIP codes—then seal the envelope firmly. Use a ballpoint pen to avoid runny ink.

Related: 8 Clutter-Cutting Strategies for Managing Mail

Write Legibly, but They've Got Your Back

Write or type addresses clearly and correctly to help postal workers deliver mail to the correct location. You can take some comfort in knowing that USPS does make efforts to read illegible envelopes. In Salt Lake City, Utah, the Postal Service has a specialized branch for handling the more than 5 million undecipherable letters they receive daily.

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Park Your Car Thoughtfully

When you park on the street, dash inside, and start preparing dinner, spare a moment’s thought for your mail carrier. A car parked in front of your mailbox can be a major annoyance. Position your car away from your mailbox, and ask guests to do the same.

Related: The 10 Best Things You Can Do for Your Garage

Consider the Weather

Mail carriers will try to deliver in most weather but are encouraged to avoid icy, snow-clogged walkways. When shoveling your driveway, pile snow away from mail delivery zones. Spread sand or salt on walkways and sidewalks to keep the approach to your house safe and show consideration for your local postal worker.

Related: 7 Snow Shoveling Lessons No One Ever Taught You

There Really Is a Santa

Christmas is approaching and your child hands you a letter for Santa. What do you do? Pen a personal response from Santa and place it in a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Put that letter in an envelope addressed to the North Pole Postmark Postmaster in Anchorage, Alaska. Your letter must reach Santa’s helpers by December 15 to guarantee that they’ll be able to send out your reply in time for the big day. Check out the USPS holiday newsroom for full details.

Related: A Dozen Clever Hacks for Your DIY Holiday Home

Give Personal Notes and Gifts

Speaking of the holidays, your mail carrier really does appreciate a thoughtful note or gift. Make it a family tradition. Have your child create a handmade card for your postal worker, then enclose a gift with a value of less than $20. Keep in mind that the U.S. Postal Service mandates that a postal worker cannot accept cash, checks, gift cards, or more than $50 worth of gifts from the same family in one calendar year.

Related: The Dos and Don’ts of Regifting

Mail Time

Behind every letter is a person who’s delivered it straight to you. Be considerate and remember these little things to help out your mail delivery service.