I left school at 16 after being offered a position of Postal Cadet at Royal Mail. I started work as a young lad and soon was on a journey of education. I worked with many different types of colleagues. There were some I got on with. There were some I couldn’t understand. I was young and the workplace was a wonder to me. I tried to work out how people were, what made them tick, what stimulated their interests, what made them who they are, and whilst I was still developing as a young adult, I was learning from others on many aspects of life.
What did I do there?
As a Postal Cadet, I was given training in all aspects of postal work, from collections, sorting, processing, and delivering. It was a great eye-opener learning about the ‘pipeline’ as they used to say, the end to end journey from postbox to letterbox.
After some time I became a Postman Higher Grade (PHG) and had responsibilities for sorting all the letter mail for the Mid-South postal area (think anything south of Birmingham down the middle of England).
You memorised postcodes?
During my time with Royal Mail, I was able to memorise postcodes for most towns and cities in the country. This may sound sad, but it was actually met with amazement by some people when I met them and they tested me on postcodes that they knew. I remember visiting a friend at Oxford University and some of the students there were dumbstruck by this feat of memory. Nice to know that I was able to amaze some of the finest young brains in the country by just knowing the postcode range of Bracknell or wherever! RG12 and RG42 by the way, in case you were wondering! 🙂
Magical blue dots?
I also worked as a Coder where I typed in postcodes so that the machines could sort the letters electronically. Do you remember the blue dots on letters? They would come from me and my colleagues typing in the postcode after reading the front of the letters on a conveyor belt and the machine stamped the phosphorous dots which would be read by the machines.
We had to code a minimum of 2000 items of mail per hour with a less than 1% error rate. This works out at approximately 33 items per minute so you don’t have long for your eyes to close in on the postcode on the letter, read it, type it, before the next one comes along.
A change of scenery
After six happy and enjoyable years at Royal Mail Wolverhampton, I had the opportunity of a transfer to Royal Mail Chester and to live with friends in nearby Liverpool. I stayed there a year before looking for a move into administrative work back in the Midlands.
Royal Mail is a fantastic organisation and a great British institution. I am proud to have worked there and to have contributed to the efforts of the organisation collecting, processing, and delivering mail to the nation.