You’ve Got Mail, and It Never Stops
Gerlene Hattan, Terri Lesley, Chris Bidiman (front), Kammi Kruckenberg, Matthew Robison (back), Yvonne Keach.
If you’ve got mail, and it’s the kind you can actually hold in your hand, it has been processed, sorted and delivered by the busy staff at Campus Mail and Receiving. Their typical workday makes Santa’s elves look like slackers.
The day begins at 7:30 a.m.
“We sort mail and start right away on processing bulk mail, addressing, folding and addressing it,” says Campus Mail and Receiving Manager Yvonne Keach. “The Post Office delivery arrives about 9 a.m. and UPS at 10. We scan that all in. By 10:30, we have processed all the incoming mail for the day, and begin delivery at 11.”
Processing outgoing and incoming bulk mail is an all day activity. University carriers also bring in mail picked up on their routes. “Then, we meter that mail, deliver the rest of campus, and pick up again,” says Keach. Meanwhile, mailroom staff continues to meter and process mail and receive freight.
And it’s not all pretty little packages: “Last week I was moving 5,550-pound piece of equipment around with a forklift. I think it was a work bench,” says Keach. Campus Mail routinely receives large freight, including freezers and scientific equipment.
Among the weirdest – and soggiest – packages they have received, Keach recalls several deliveries of animal parts. “People mail samples in to be tested, frozen in a baggie.”
The mailroom has a list of criteria identifying suspicious packages. A few years ago, a package with handwritten address, carrying too much postage and dripping white powder arrived. All three of those features are considered suspicious, so it was called in. Personnel from Environmental Health and Safety, the FBI and Moscow Police arrived and the Mailroom was evacuated. Fortunately, the contents were determined to be harmless.
In addition to processing the mail, Keach spends a lot of time answering faculty and staff questions about bulk mail – the best way to ship, track and time it. She maintains the mailroom Web site, and serves as the campus liaison to UPS, the USPS and FedEx, and to outlying University outreach posts in Idaho Falls, Boise and Coeur d’Alene.
Last year Campus Mail sorted just under one million pieces of mail, not counting freight or outgoing mail. Bulk mailing hit a record high in 2008, with 1.3 million pieces mailed out.
Mailroom inventory inevitably includes a few pieces of “mystery mail.” Those are now traceable at their Web site: www.campusmail.uidaho.edu.
The best advice for faculty and staff who want mail delivered on time and accurately is to use the proper University address, including the P.O. Box.
Keach says she and many of her staff will work through the three days campus is closed between Christmas and New Years, “because the mail never stops.”