www.RogerWendell.com
Roger J. Wendell
Defending 3.8 Billion Years of Organic EvolutionSM
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United States Postal Service

Roger J. Wendell, Larry Withman, and Donna Brockman on top Kilimanjaro - January, 2003
Me (in red), Larry, and Donna on top Kilimanjaro
I had the good fortune of working for the Postal Service from about 1979 through 2011. I say "about" because I actually resigned twice but came back a few months later, each time, after trying different jobs and career paths. The first time I resigned was while I was a Letter Carrier and wanted to try my hand at law enforcement as a Postal Police Officer. You'd think both jobs were in the same company but at that time that wasn't quite the case - I actually had to resign from the regular Postal Service and then get "sworn-in" with the Postal Inspection Service. After about four years as a Police Officer I resigned to try my luck as an Air Traffic Controller shortly after President Reagan fired a bunch of 'em for going on an illegal strike. I didn't like the Federal Aviation Administration, very much (the work environment was full of cigarette smoke and my coworkers were getting busted for on-the-job use of drugs and alcohol...), and came back to the Postal Service as a PTF (Part Time Flexible) Letter Carrier at the bottom again!

But, back in those days mail volume was growing and the Postal Service provided lots of great opportunity for anyone willing to work hard and travel a bit. So, I eventually signed-up with the maintenance craft, at first, as a Mail Processing Equipment mechanic (MPE) and was quickly promoted to Electronics Technician (ET). As both an MPE and ET I spent a lot of time at the Postal Service's most excellent training facility in Norman, Oklahoma (at that time it was known as the "TTC," or Technical Training Center but was later changed to the National Center for Employee Development, or "NCED"). After a few years as an ET, working on Optical Character Readers (OCRs using PDP-11s and the RSX-11M operating system!), Delivery Bar Code Sorters (DBCSs), Advanced Facer Cancellers (AFCSs), bulk mail equipment (MERLIN), Flat Sorters, and a host of related computer systems and networks I made my way into management.

Well over half of my Postal career was spent as "Manager, Maintenance" in Boulder and Grand Junction, Colorado with countless temporary assignments and collateral duties in Reno, Seattle, Washington DC, Topeka, Texas, California, Maryland, Oregon, and in just about every town and city throughout Colorado! I spent a total of two years in the Maintenance Leadership Development Program (MLDP) and also held collateral responsibilities as an Inappropriate Behavior Investigator, Safety Specialist, Asbestos Coordinator, Welfare Committee Chairman, Facility Security Officer, Support Services Supervisor (monitoring contract stations), Manager Distribution Operations, Manager Delivery Operations, Express Mail supervisor, dock (mail handlers) supervisor, Growth Coordinator, and Contracting Officer's Representative (for snow removal, trash, linen, recycling, parts, vehicle washing, and a bunch of other contracts I can't even remember now!). I was also accepted into the Officer-in-Charge program (kind of a "Postmaster-in-Training" opportunity), was a certified interviewer (for both craft and EAS positiosns), and was trained as a trainer in a variety of programs too numerous to list here!

Finally, I am grateful to the Postal Service for having allowed me such a wonderful array of opportunities and variety throughout my career! There's no way a person like me could have sat still in a cubicle or crouched in front of a computer screen all those years. Not only did the Postal Service provide me with the variety my psyche craved, but it also paid a great wage and benefit that allowed me to raise a family and contribute to my community. And, I must say that I was always proud of the diversity throughout the Postal Service workforce - years before it became politically correct or fashionable the Postal Service was providing women, minorities, and the disabled workplace opportunity that was virtually unknown anywhere else at the time - a benefit for not only the Postal Service but our entire society as well!

 

 

YouTube Logo Click Here for an inside look at the Postal Inspectors' Lookout Gallery...

 

Unfortunately...

On September 6th, 2011 (September 5th Labor Day in the U.S., or just over three months since having left the Postal Service) I was traveling in Russia and had to learn on Moscow TV that the United States Postal Service was nearing insolvency. It doesn't take a math degree to figure out that this unacceptable situation can be blamed completely on three responsible parties; the four Postal unions (Letter Carriers, Clerks, Mail Handlers, and Rural Carriers), management, and law enforcement/auditing branches (the Postal Inspection Service and Office of Inspector General). Each of these constituencies was well aware of declining mail volumes and the poor economy, years before the Postal Service started to approach bankruptcy, yet did almost nothing to prepare for the decline (The union continued to fight for featherbedding while management continued fighting for more staffing).

Up until I left the Postal Service I had some hope that the three responsible parties (listed above) would see the light and start working on ways to dramatically improve efficiencies in light of plummeting mail volumes. But, it became very clear when the APWU contract was settled, in early 2011, that the unions had no intention of giving up any positions and management, it was clear, hadn't the stomach for insisting much in the way of workforce flexibility or innovation. And, of course, the Postal Inspection Service and Office of Inspector General didn't have much influence over the situation other than trying to enforce Sarbanes-Oxley (the implementation of a 2002 Congressional accounting requirement) - neither were very adept at instituting cost cutting measures or institution-wide efficiencies.

So, here it is in late 2011, as I update this entry, and Congress is working on ways to "bailout" the Postal Service. Of course nobody wants to use the term "bailout," in these economically beleaguered times, but that's indeed what's being proposed. Although I love the Postal Service and don't want to see it "go under" I also feel strongly about business efficiency and productivity. The fact of the matter is that the Postal Service and its unions, like most other huge bureaucracies, are very slow to "capture" shrinking customer volumes through force reductions and increased productivity - the unions and management simply didn't want to give up any turf!

In early 2011, shortly before I left, the Postal Service negotiated another "no layoff" clause with the American Postal Workers Union. Again, I don't want to see the demise of the Postal Service or my former coworkers but this unconscionable (and untenable) arrangement was simply not sustainable during such a difficult economic climate at the time - a time when downsizing, layoffs, and a shrinking of the economy was being felt almost everywhere. And, it's these kinds of arrangements that will eventually cost the American tax payer yet another bailout at a time when there was already excessive funding for bankrupt financial institutions, collapsing car companies, and unneeded wars.

The Postal Service must become more efficient if it is to survive - regardless if it receives a bailout, reprieve, or pushes for reduced service standards. Simple economic law and commonsense dictate that the American taxpayer can no longer afford to prop-up all of these failing companies and industries. I'm hoping the Postal Service will do the right thing and do everything possible to avoid a bailout. But, I'm not holding my breath as in late 2011 they were proposing to reduce service while working to keep an extra 110,000 employees on the rolls...

- Roger J. Wendell
November 2011, Colorado

 

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Now for something a little more pleasant (pictures)!

 

(click on any of this page's "thumbnail" images for a larger view!)

 

Miscellaneous:

Postal Statue, Aspen, Colorado by Roger J. - 04-07-2002
Aspen, Colorado
Postal Statue, Aspen, Colorado by Roger J. - 04-07-2002
Aspen, Colorado
Postal Firearms Permit of Roger J. Wendell - 04-19-1980
My Postal Firearms Permit
PMG Bill Henderson, Roger Wendell, Tracy Teeters and Pat Broiles
Me and PMG Bill Henderson!
Buck Slip
The old "buck slip!"
School Tour Boulder, Colorado Post Office by Roger J. Wendell - 03-17-2009
School tours
Delivery Bar Code Sorters at the Boulder Valmont Station by Roger J. Wendell 03-17-2009
Delivery Bar Code Sorters
Inspector Chaney welcomes Roger Wendell as a new Security Officer - 03-22-1980
Me and Inspector Chaney

 

My Office:

Over the two decades that I was a supervisor and manager I probably ended up occupying a dozen different offices on a semi-permanent basis. This was due to various assignments in Boulder, Denver, Grand Junction, Reno and other places where I'd spend a few months or even years in one capacity or another. I didn't always think to photograph each and every office (that I called "home!") but am thankful that I have at least these few representative pictures of my official dwelling places!
Support Services Office, Boulder, CO by Roger J. Wendell - 03-24-2005
Valmont Station, west side
Support Services Office, Boulder, CO by Roger J. Wendell - 03-24-2005
Valmont Station, west side
Support Services Office, Boulder, CO by Roger J. Wendell - 03-24-2005
Valmont Station, customer lobby side
My Vallmont Station Bulletin Board, Boulder, CO by Roger J. Wendell - 03-25-2004
My EcoCycle award and notes to myself...
Maintenance Manager's Museum, Grand Junction, CO by Roger J. Wendell - 02-16-2011
Maintenance Manager's Museum*
Maintenance Manager's Office, Grand Junction, CO by Roger J. Wendell - 01-08-2010
Grand Junction, Colorado
Maintenance Manager's Office, Grand Junction, CO by Roger J. Wendell - 05-23-2011
Grand Junction, Colorado
Maintenance Manager's Office, Reno, NV by Roger J. Wendell - 11-25-2006
Reno, Nevada
Support Services Office, Boulder, CO by Roger J. Wendell - 03-24-2005
Support Services, Boulder
*My "Maintenance Manager's Museum" was always an informal collection of broken parts and pieces from mail processing equipment that I thought
   would be of interest to our team (or at least to me!). I eventually had most of it sent to recycling anytime I moved on to another office...

 

Animated Book Bolger Training Center
Potomac, Maryland
I participated in a number of meetings and training sessions in "Potomac" and always enjoyed it there. Despite the dense, surrounding population the campus was always clean and quiet - with what I thought was one of the most pleasant jogging tracks I've ever been on! Additionally, I believe the Postal Service bought the grounds and facilities from a religious order sometime in the early 80s. So, the rooms (formerly used by nuns!) were very small but encouraged contemplation and frugality - attributes certainly lacking throughout our society at that time!
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Welcome
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Registration
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Myrna
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Housing
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
My room
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
My bed
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Grounds
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Housing
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Parking Lot F
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Grant, Bill, Myrna & Warren
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
2.4 km "Tilli's Trail
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
One mile mark...
Osgood's Dining Pass, Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - 2007
Osgood's Dining Pass

 

Bolger Classrooms:

Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Name tent
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Before class
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Old Rural Cart
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Frank
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Wynn

 

Bolger Bricks and Inspectors' training:

Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Inspection Service
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
ALP bricks
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
ALP bricks
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Louise & Earl's bricks
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Myrna's brick

 

Maintenance Leadership Development Program (MLDP)

Although I was a graduate of MLDP 2007B I had the pleasure of attending Class 2006's commencement a year earlier:
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
'06 Mentors and protégés
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Ron, Warren & Grant
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Tom, Tony, Lynn & Mark
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Rodney, Bob & Jim
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Bob, Allen, Jim, Barney & Ron
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Frank, Don & Tim
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Allen, Tom & me
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Warren, Ron & Tony
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Me, Lynn, Bob & Barney
Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland - September 2006
Dave, Danny, Kevin & me

 

MLDP Class 2007B
Frank Haderthauer, MLDP Director

Mentors:
  • Thomas Miller
  • Paul Authur
  • Anthony McCabe
  • Allen Calhoun
  • Robert Jeffery
  • Warren Reeves
  • Jim Flynn
  • Danny Addington
  • Don Schumacher
  • Myrna Murphy
  • Dave Long
Protégés:
  • Ron Brown
  • Rodney Hurdt
  • Lynn Jackson
  • Robert Martin
  • Mark Marzec
  • Grant Moore
  • William O'Guin
  • Kevin Stehle
  • Timothy Travier
  • Roger J. Wendell
  • William Wheeler

 

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Animated Book National Center for Employee Development (NCED)
Norman, Oklahoma
I estimate I spent almost a year at NCED in Norman - and that's not counting nearly three months of training at ElectroCom Automation's Arlington, Texas facility and other satellite coursework in Denver and over the internet. While at NCED I took classes ranging from basic electricity and computer troubleshooting to digital electronics and programmable controllers. And, of course, countless equipment specific classes related to the various pieces of mail processing equipment I described at the top of this page. I also participated in a number of team building and management courses in Norman but will always appreciate the digital stuff I learned there most!

Prior to the construction of NCED and its housing facility, I spent many weeks at OU (University of Oklahoma, Norman) living and training in "Couch Towers" on campus - a large college dormitory building leased by the Postal Service at that time. Although the construction of NCED's facilities (off Highway 9) proved to be much more comfortable than Couch Towers, I always missed the campus per diem at the time - I believe it was $36 or $37 per day until we moved over to the new facility in 1990 - then it dropped down to $7 per day because most of the services we needed were provide on-site...

As I explained above, I spent a "ton" of time at NCED for various technical and managerial training sessions and always enjoyed it! While at OU I can remember wandering over, from the campus, to the proposed site for NCED near the intersection of Highway 9 and 24th Avenue SE sometime in the late 1980s. It was pretty much rolling horse pasture and small farms, in most directions, with a few survey stakes indicating the future construction of NCED. Of course a quarter century later, as I make this entry in late 2011, the Center is home to the Oklahoma's largest hotel (900 rooms) with all kinds of development surrounding it. Nevertheless, I can still recall those warm summer evenings when nothing could be heard but the sound of crickets and an occasional car making its way down Highway 9 beneath a star-studded sky. Times change...

 

A look at the facility:

National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
NCED
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
NCED Shuttle
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
My room
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
My room
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Pool
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
One of two cafeterias...
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Conference hallway
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Rental bikes
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Gym
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Big Barbeque!

 

Newer APPS training facility:
(Automated Package Processing System developed in the early 2000s...)

National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
APPS
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
APPS
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
APPS
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
APPS
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
APPS

 

Inside a typical classroom, World Class Reliability:

(Instructor: Richard C. Harris, Jr., September 11 - 22, 2006)
 
WORLD CLASS RELIABILITY     55602-95     PRECOURSE ASSIGNMENT INSTRUCTIONS

All participants in the World Class Reliability course (55602-95) are required to complete the following pre-course assignments:

Book Report. Each student will be required to read and present a five-minute book report based on either management, business or maintenance philosophies. The purchase cost of such a book (NTE $25) will be reimbursed through submittal of the MTSC Receipt Coupon (found in WCR Checklist Course 55602-94). It is incumbent upon each class participant to initiate communication with other class attendees on the topic of their report, so as not to have any duplicate reports. The reports will be delivered on Days 2 & 3 of the first week. The verbal presentation will be accompanied by a single hand-out sheet synopsis of the reader's findings (Intention of book; what the reader learned from its content; how the findings can help make the local Maintenance department a more proactive contributing partner). The reports are to be delivered extemporaneously. No verbatim reading from the paper will be permitted. A PowerPoint presentation can be used, if desired. Also, Rip Charts can be utilized as a report aid. A composite of some past book reports can be found on the NCED MDOT web page.

 

Making presentations:
(Lots of 'em!)

National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
WCR
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Paul and Richard
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Rich lecturing
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Bob, James & James
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Jerry, Grant & Michael
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Mike, Keith, Rich & me!
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Skeptical
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Public speaking...
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Bob, James & James
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Carl, Marcello & lige
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Michael
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Keith
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Grant
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Lige
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Bob
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Sean & Keith
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Root Cause Analysis
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Carl & Marcello
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Sean
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Mike, Grant, Stan & me
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Mike & Stan
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Bob & James
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Bob & James
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Grant and Jerry
National Center for Employee Development - September 2006
Our entire class!

 

A few weeks prior to class I sent out this email to coordinate book reports:

We must each present a five minute book report based on either management, business
or maintenance philosophies for the 2nd and 3rd day of class! Please email me with your book
selection so that we have no duplications! You can email me at: roger.j.wendell@usps.gov...

Here's the list I developed and made available to my furture classmate before the course actually began:

Name Book Choice Finance # City & State

Wendell, Roger Leadership is an Art by Max De Pree 070883 Boulder, CO

Carney, Robert Fish by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul & John Christensen 350061 Albany, NY

Mosca, Marcello Getting to Yes: (Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in) by Roger Fisher, William Ury 381793 Columbus, OH

Grubbs, Michael Shackleton's Way (Leadership from the Great Antarctic Explorer) by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell with a preface by Alexandra Shackleton. 416609 Pittsburgh, PA

Lewis Jr, Lige Leadership 101 by John C. Maxwell 072359 Denver, CO

Route, Keith Making Feedback Work by Joe Folkman, Ph.D 266361 St Paul, MN

Scott, James Beyond World Class by Alan M. Ross 546148 Olympia, WA

Inosanto, James The Secret by Blanchard and Miller 056770 San Diego, CA

Taylor, Gerald An Ounce of Application is Worth a Ton of Abstraction by J. Michael Crouch 056785 Richmond, CA

Moore, Thomas The 360 Degree Leader by John C. Maxwell 273784 Jackson, MS

Dorsey, Stanley The One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson 252492 Detroit, MI

McCaskill, Carl Better than Duct Tape (Dialogue Tools for Getting Results and Getting Along) by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, and Ron McMillan 287142 Saint Louis, MO

Barnes, Sean The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick M. Lencion 287142 Saint Louis, MO

 

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Postal History

On July 26, 1775, the U.S. postal system was established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) as its first postmaster general. Franklin put into place the foundation for many aspects of today's mail system. During early colonial times in the 1600s, few American colonists needed to send mail to each other; it was more likely that their correspondence was with letter writers in Britain. Mail deliveries from across the Atlantic were sporadic and could take many months to arrive. There were no post offices in the colonies, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns. In 1753, Benjamin Franklin, who had been postmaster of Philadelphia, became one of two joint postmasters general for the colonies. He made numerous improvements to the mail system, including setting up new, more efficient colonial routes and cutting delivery time in half between Philadelphia and New York by having the weekly mail wagon travel both day and night via relay teams.

Franklin also debuted the first rate chart, which standardized delivery costs based on distance and weight. In 1774, the British fired Franklin from his postmaster job because of his revolutionary activities. However, the following year, he was appointed postmaster general of the United Colonies by the Continental Congress. Franklin held the job until late in 1776, when he was sent to France as a diplomat. He left a vastly improved mail system, with routes from Florida to Maine and regular service between the colonies and Britain. President George Washington appointed Samuel Osgood, a former Massachusetts congressman, as the first postmaster general of the American nation under the new U.S. constitution in 1789. At the time, there were approximately 75 post offices in the country.

By the 21st Century, the United States had over 40,000 post offices and the postal service was delivering over 200 billion pieces of mail each year to over 144 million homes and businesses in the 50 States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands and American Samoa. At around the time of the 2nd millennium the postal service was the nation's largest civilian employer, with over 700,000 career workers, who handled more than 44 percent of the world's cards and letters. The postal service is a not-for-profit, self-supporting agency that covers its expenses through postage (stamp use in the United States started in 1847) and related products. The Postal Service also enjoys indirect subsidies through tax exemptions and huge real estate holdings most of which were acquired at no cost. The postal service attempts mail delivery rain or shine, using everything from planes to mules. Next to wages and benefits, transportation costs are the Postal Service's second largest expense with an increase of fuel by one penny costing it over $8 million.

 

Some Postal Videos on YouTube:

  1. Letter Tray Sorting
  2. Flat Sequencing Sorter
  3. Accu-Sort Apply Pro
  4. Letter Mail Waterfall
  5. Fats Cancelling Machine
  6. FSM 1000
  7. DIOSS Feeder
  8. MicroMark Canceling Machine
  9. AAA machine and Strapper
  10. Post Office Box Section
  11. Live ducks in the mail!
  12. Live poults in the mail!
  13. Live poults in the mail!
  1. Flipping letters through a MicroMark
  2. Mail tub strapping machine
  3. MicroMark letter flow
  4. WFOV on a DIOSS
  5. MicroMark diverter gate
  6. DBCS test deck run
  7. Strapping letter trays
  8. Post Office in a trailer
  9. 106 Dead chickens in a Priority box
  10. Postage revenge does NOT work!
  11. Model M cancelling machine
  12. Live ducks in the mail!
  13. Christmas mail at a small Post Office

 

Links:

  1. America
  2. Coast Guard
  3. Constitution and Bill of Rights
  4. Government employee unions
  5. Franking Machine Museum
  6. OPM Retirement Information and Services
  7. Postal Lite Blue
  8. Public Payroll - see what individual government employees are paid

 

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