Grass routes

Yo, Ace. Our letter carrier needed a note from us—no joke—to give him permission to not walk on our lawn. He said the post office wants its letter carriers to deliver mail quickly, so quickly that they are obligated by job requirement to walk on the lawn to get the mail to the doors of people’s homes. Can you find out why the post office wants letter carriers to stomp on the grass?—P.O. Boxed

Yes, P.O., it seems rather odd that the U.S. Postal Service would want its carriers to walk on your lawn. Odder still that you had to make a written request to keep the mailman off your grass. However, Ace thinks you might want to walk a mile in a mail carrier’s shoes before you gripe anymore about it.

   According to the Postal Service’s FAQ page on its website (www.usps.com), letter carriers are expected to cross your lawn on their appointed rounds unless you make a formal objection. (By the way, Ace was impressed/terrified by the prodigious number of questions on the Postal Service FAQ page. How do I address a letter to Santa Claus or God? What if I get a chain letter about a Guinness World Record attempt? What if my mail carrier turns out to be an alien from another planet? O.K., so that last one Ace might of made up…but really, people have a lot of unique questions for the Postal Service!)

   As it turns out, the post office’s directive to have carriers cut across your lawn isn’t as odd as you might think. A Postal Service representative told Ace that carriers crossing lawns whenever possible has been a common practice for years. These small shortcuts add up to a lot less footsteps taken by the nation’s mail carriers, which add up to quicker deliveries. Sure, your carrier may save only a dozen steps by crossing your lawn. But add those up along his entire route and the routes of carriers across the nation and you’ve got a mighty long road not taken!

   As far as the written notice goes, that’s only done to make sure carriers don’t walk on your lawn if you don’t want them to. Since it’s such a common practice, a formal record helps the Postal Service keep track of folks who don’t want tracks on their lawn.

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