Working Wednesdays: Return To Sender, The World’s Worst Postman in Holywood, Northern Ireland

Working Wednesdays: Return To Sender, The World’s Worst Postman in Holywood, Northern Ireland

Looking back at this little story about being a postman, I can laugh at it, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, nothing learned. I went to a job interview for being a postman back in 2001, got it and decided to leave the pub job. I always liked stamps, I used to collect them, I always liked early mornings – when there’s nobody about (my Tesco stock control days were early starts) So by late October 2001, after the calm from 9/11 I started what I thought was a new career…and so onto Royal Mail, the UK’s amazing national delivery service.

I was kind of just in a rut looking for new things towards the end of 2001, and this meant applying for various jobs and changing jobs 4 times (other posts will show my times in Halifax, McMillens, Tesco and the time I didn’t go to Holland), when in the previous 3 years I had changed jobs zero times. When the opportunity to become a postman came up, I was well up for it, I applied and got the job, and would be stationed in Tomb Street, Belfast and be assigned to “Walk Four” in Holywood. Apart from my later ONE shift in ASDA, this would be my shortest ever job duration! It all started very well. I left my job in Tesco Springhill, I left my job in McMillen’s Bar and I started on Halloween week 2001 as a postman in Northern Ireland! The first 3 days were training in the office, learning everything about the job and meeting the team. I still don’t remember anything about the team or my work colleagues, it was all a big daze, and sometimes I think “Did I really used to be a postman?” The early mornings were never a problem and I can just see myself now walking up posh garden paths in North Holywood (a Belfast suburb) delivering mail. As it turned out, I was probably the worst postman in history, but mainly because I quit the job in the FIRST WEEK without really giving it a chance…being chased by a dog and bitten on the hand didn’t help…

I remember the ins and outs of the jobs, early morning we would get our mail in big sacks, sort it in a small corridor in the tomb street depot into streets and more precisely, the easiest route of delivery possible, and place the mail in that order into our sack. The remaining mail which was too heavy to carry would be placed in strategically located storage cupboards (wrong word maybe?) situated at various points on the route, where we would take a key and pick them up. The normal hours of work were something like 5.15 am until 11 am ish, and extra time if there was a lot of mail or I hadn’t finished. The first two days out on the job I was accompanied by Keith Purdy from East Belfast (who also knew somehow my cousin Gary McCullough, or at least his circle of friends). Keith was younger than me (I was 21; it was 7 years ago) but knew the job well and I did enjoy the first few bits of the trip – peaceful scenery in Holywood, nobody about as it was so early, watching the dawn break and the birds sing, and then there was that big problem that I stupidly didn’t think of when getting the job – the threat of pets, and scarey dogs chasing me!.

I completely forgot that I would be walking down driveways, up alleyways, paths and the probability of seeing a dog every 5 minutes, even just dog walkers! I lasted one day on my own as a postman! And that was it, I still have a very minor scar, where a dog bit me while I threw mail onto the ground while delivering to a house at Redhill in Holywood. I went back to retrieve the mail, and the owner came out, collected it, passed on the ones that weren’t theirs and apologised. The dog had made a run for me as I exited the drive and attacked me! I got a bit too scared and in honesty I never really gave dogs a chance in life. Some are bad, some are good, I’ve learned that most are good. There on that quiet morning (no recollection of day of week, or the date) the dream ended. Instead of telling my boss, I went home to think about my decision of leaving the job. At the time I had just been accepted for another job in the Halifax in Belfast, which I would take anyway, and that kind of made up my mind. It was a few weeks away before I would start that job, but my mind was made up – I was a shit postman, and I wasn’t suited for the job, it didn’t suit me, it would be better for someone else. I phoned my manager (incidentally I recall his name as Timothy Dalton! Not of James Bond fame though…) the next morning to resign over the phone, saying the job didn’t suit me and I didn’t like it. When really I didn’t mind the early starts and the walking, it was the dogs running down driveways at me, when all I was trying to do was my job. The job just wasn’t for me. I still love the Royal Mail though – great company and excellent service. Not to be confused with the Post Office of course, as it and Royal Mail are different institutions, aided and run in some way by the British Government. It wasn’t to be for me! I lasted 3 days in 2001 as a postman…

Company – Royal Mail/Ensignia

Based – Tomb Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland

My route – Walk 4 (North Holywood)

When I Worked – October 2001

Possible songs:
The Verve – Stamped
The Beatles – Mr Postman
Bjork – Post (album)
Split Enz – Message To My Girl
Pet Shop Boys – Red Letter Day
Pulp – Dogs Are Everywhere

Royal Mail Christmas:


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