‘When I came to work in the post room 18 years ago, there was a lot more post. In those days, course manuals weighing two kilos apiece were sent around, for instance. That was hard work, but it was more fun too because there were more of us doing the job.
In the post room we deal with the outgoing post and courier dispatches from the campus, and we went on doing that during the lockdown. At first it was fairly quiet, and then it got busier and some chair groups sent their staff a present. And we put flower tokens into envelopes for about 6000 people. We also have an extra service now, that people can email letters to us that we print and send by post.
I know everything there is to know about post by now. If somebody wants to send crates of live fish, for example, I know where we can arrange special transport. Once you’ve experienced everything once, the job can get a bit predictable, but I like working independently and knowing what’s expected of me.
In one package we heard soft crawling noises
You are not allowed to send live animals by post, but I think people do sometimes send insects: you could hear soft crawling noises coming from inside one package. There’s been other strange post too, like the time we got several envelopes that were covered in blood. Animal scientists had asked livestock vets to send in blood samples.
As far as suspicious packages are concerned, we’re in the frontline, but I’m not scared. We often recognize it before we open it, by the way it’s addressed for instance, and we have a protocol. We once received a suspicious package, incorrectly addressed and without an accompanying letter. My colleagues decided to open it anyway, because it wasn’t ticking or hissing and there was nothing sticking out of it. Inside it was a plastic bucket with holes in it, containing slugs for a practical experiment. That’s how much alarm an incorrect address can cause.
I used to take my work home quite often, but I’ve learned not to do that anymore, because it doesn’t get you anywhere. I can’t check everything and good is good enough. That way I’m more relaxed. You should go to work with a smile and come home that way too.’