The number of letter carriers is on the wane as is the quantity of mail they deliver but one constant remains: November 12 is the “Día del Cartero,” or Postman’s Day.
According to Correos de México, the national postal service, there were 10,200 letter carriers working across the country in 2013. Now, the figure has fallen to 7,819, a decline of 23% in just six years.
The growing popularity of private courier services for the delivery of packages and the decline in traditional letter writing are both to blame for the lower demand for postal services and as a result, fewer letter carriers.
Among those that remain is Inés Monsalvo Nosedal, one of a small number of women working in an industry dominated by men.
In an interview with the newspaper El Universal in the lead-up to this year’s Postman’s, and Postwoman’s, Day – which has been celebrated in Mexico since 1931 – Monsalvo said she was saddened by the decline in the number of letter carriers and concerned that they have fewer letters and packages to deliver.
But she remains optimistic about the future of her occupation and continues to carry out her work each day with the same enthusiasm and dedication as when she first started as a letter carrier 13 years ago.
Monsalvo said she faced a steep learning curve when she first entered Mexico’s postal service.
“My former mother-in-law was in the postal service in Naucalpan [México state] for many years. I previously worked as a bilingual secretary but I lost my job and she contacted me and said: ‘There’s work here but as a letter carrier, not in the administrative area,’ she explained.
“It was a challenge at the beginning because I didn’t have any idea about the work I had to do, it was something completely new for me but I liked it a lot,” Monsalvo added.
In addition to learning her mail routes, the cartera, as female letter carriers are called in Spanish, also had to learn to ride a bicycle to fulfill her duties.
Monsalvo now uses a sturdier tricycle to deliver mail in Mexico City but the dangers of the job remain.
“You have to be very careful in the street and here doubly so,” she said. “. . . I’ve fallen off, been knocked down – one day I arrived home with my knees scraped because I fell off my tricycle.”
Punctured tires and stolen mail are among other tribulations Monsalvo has faced while on the job.
When the volume of mail was greater, some workers dislocated their shoulders due to the weight they were burdened with on a daily basis, she said.
“. . . A lot of mail used to arrive [but] the advantage was that the routes were shorter [and] there were a lot of letter carriers,” Monsalvo said.
Despite the difficulties of the job, which also include making deliveries in dangerous parts of the capital, the postie has no desire to look for work elsewhere.
“Being a letter carrier is a very noble job, hopefully it will always exist and people won’t forget about the Día de Cartero,” she said, perhaps referring to the custom of giving a tip to letter carriers on November 12.
“Keep believing in the post office, keep sending letters and keep trusting us,” she said, although given the postal service’s record for painfully slow delivery, there might not be a lot of trust left.
Source: El Universal (sp)