There’s nothing quite like getting a piece of personalized mail. Not another bill, not a magazine you can’t remember subscribing to, not a solicitation to vote, but a bonafide handwritten letter or card from a friend. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.
And while some people complain about the rising cost of stamps, others realize that the U.S. Postal Service is still one of the most cost-effective and reliable ways to get your package from point A to point B. Bearing that in mind, here are a few little-known secrets that your mail carrier never told you.
1. Yes, mail carriers get bit by dogs
It’s more than just a cliché — for many mail carriers, dog bites are an unfortunate reality. In 2016, the total number of postal carriers attacked by dogs reached 6,755, which was a 200 person increase from the previous year.
Los Angeles had 80 attacks — the highest number of any city. “Even good dogs have bad days,” said U.S. Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo. “Dog bite prevention training and continuing education are important to keep pet owners, pets and those who visit homes — like letter carriers — happy and healthy.”
Next: It’s shocking to learn people used to send this through the mail.
2. People used to send babies through the mail
Just a few weeks after the postal service officially began, people began mailing the most peculiar things: their babies.
In 1913, an Ohio couple “mailed” their 8-month-old son to his grandmother a few miles away. The following years saw more instances of babies and young children being mailed places, especially in rural areas. It all just goes to show how much people trust their mail carriers.
Next: Your mail carrier sees more than you think.
3. They see some crazy stuff out there
Walking or driving through neighborhoods six days per week means mail carriers witness everything from crime to tragedy. It’s often a mail carrier who must call 911 for traffic accidents, burglaries, and tons of other things that most people miss while they’re working all day.
Next: They’re paying attention.
4. They take notice if you stop getting the mail
A mail carrier takes notice when you stop retrieving your mail for extended periods of time. Some mail carriers have even rescued elderly people just by noticing that their mail was starting to pile up.
Next: Your taxes don’t go here.
5. The postal service doesn’t take your tax dollars
You might be surprised to learn that the postal service isn’t supported by taxes, but rather relies on product sales to stay in operation.
Next: You can do a lot of stuff online.
6. You can visit the post office from home
Like so many other businesses, the postal industry is taking full advantage of the internet. You can go online to buy stamps, place a hold on your mail when you’re out of town, track packages, create labels, change your address, and apply for your passport. Check out usps.com and never change out of your jammies.
Next: This is the best way to save on shipping.
7. Media mail is a bargain hunter’s best trick for saving on shipping
You could save a lot of cash by opting to ship your books, DVDs, CDs, or other items using media mail as opposed to standard post. Reader’s Digest reported that 10 pounds of books would cost $24.77 to send from New York to San Francisco with standard post, but would only cost $6.95 via media mail.
Next: This is one huge advantage of the USPS.
8. USPS doesn’t charge for address mistakes (unlike those other guys)
The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t charge for address mistakes. UPS and FedEx will often charge $10 or more for simple human error.
Next: The real reason mail carriers are always in a rush.
9. Mail carriers are usually in a hurry
Not only do they have a lot of area to cover, but mail carriers are also given specific instructions by their supervisors on when to leave and come back. Often, their progress gets monitored using barcodes they scan along their route.
Next: They’ll find you even if you live way out there.
10. Mail carriers deliver to the most remote addresses
Even if FedEx or UPS won’t go there, the U.S. Postal Service is known for making the trek to difficult, out-of-the-way locations.
Next: Don’t neglect your mailbox when it snows.
11. Make sure you clear a path for your mail
Your mail carrier may be out delivering in terrible weather, but if they can’t access your mailbox, you won’t get your mail. Use a little common sense and clear a path to your box while you’re cleaning the driveway and front walk. That way you’ll never miss your mail.
Next: You may have heard their motto before.
12. Postal carriers have an official motto
It goes like this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
In other words — your kids may get a snow day, but your mail person will still be out on the road delivering your mail. Keep that in mind the next time you see your mail carrier, and give them a friendly wave and smile for their trouble.
Next: This is why you get your mail, even if it’s incorrectly addressed.
13. Your mail carrier pays attention
Ever notice a letter arrive that has your name on it, but the wrong street address? That’s all thanks to your mail carrier. They pay attention to the people on their route and personally sort the mail before heading out to deliver it.
Next: Never tip cash.
14. Tips are appreciated
A small tip around the holidays is a great way to show your appreciation for excellent service all year long. Just be aware that some postal employees cannot accept cash gifts, wine, or liquor. Opt for a gift card instead.
Next: The USPS is bigger than you think.
15. The USPS is huge
The postal service is the biggest retail network in America — larger than McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Walmart combined.
Read more: 15 Secrets Airlines Don’t Want You to Know
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!