Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
On second thought, make that snow nor rain nor heat -- scratch gloom of night.
About 40 Glen Burnie residents did not receive mail yesterday because it grew dark before two carriers finished their routes, Postmaster William T. Pratesi said.
William C. Cooke, a retired postal worker who lives on Gatewood Court in Glen Burnie, was one of the residents who didn't receive his mail yesterday.
He was none too happy about it.
"To me, my mail is very important," he said. "Being a retiree, I get Social Security, Medicaid . . . many important things I have to deal with at the end of the month. Each day I don't get it, itputs me behind."
The mail carriers failed to finish delivery to about 25 households on Gatewood Court and another 12 to 14 on Americana Circle because the large quantity of mail slowed down delivery, Pratesi said. Monday -- eight days before Christmas -- is traditionally the heaviest mail day of the year, he said.
Pratesi said mail returned to the post office Monday was sent out Tuesday morning by special delivery.
Although Pratesi is unhappy that carriers returned to the office without completing their rounds, he will stand by their decision for now.
"Safety always comes first. It's not safe to have people out there delivering mail after dark," he said.
"We deliverin snow, sleet and rain," he said. "It's only happened two times in 30 years that we couldn't deliver because of the snow."
But despite the well-known phrase about mail carriers delivering regardless of weather conditions or darkness, the local postmaster has adopted a policy that mail should not be delivered after dark.
During the winter, that means all routes have to be finished by about 5 p.m.
JohnJ. Dial, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Baltimore, said he knows of no general policy that mail should not be delivered afterdark.
However, he said the postmaster was correct that safety of employees must come first. Postmasters are allowed to make decisions regarding policy involving safety issues, he said.
"We make every effort to get the mail delivered before dark, but you have to assess the situation," he said. "It's usually decided on a case-by-case basis."
Pratesi said interruptions to mail delivery occur "rarely." Once or twice a year some homes may be missed for a variety of reasons,such as the carrier becomes ill or the truck breaks down. No delivery because of darkness happens very infrequently, he said.
His policy requires carriers to call in if they think they can't finish theirrounds before it gets dark. The post office then sends out carriers who already have finished to "help bail them out."
Neither carriercalled in asking for help Monday, he said.
Pratesi said he is continuing to investigate what happened and why the calls weren't made, "to make sure it doesn't happen again."
For the time being, he said, he does not expect the carriers will be reprimanded.