Stephanie Rodriguez is a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. Stephanie has worked for the USPS for 12 years and works in Succasunna. Stephanie graduated from Montclair State University with a BA and has recently enrolled in a master’s degree program in Child Advocacy and Policy also at MSU. Stephanie lives in Flanders with her husband and two children.
Q. Stephanie, please tell us what you do.
A. I start my day sorting mail in the post office and then drive a truck to deliver the mail. My route in Succasunna is mostly businesses with some residences. I deliver to approximately 656 different addresses.
Q. How has your work changed since the start of the pandemic?
A. The volume of parcels has gone up and the volume of letters has gone down. With all of the on-line shopping, our parcel volume is similar to the weeks leading up to Christmas. I am happy the post office made some changes in our work schedule. Some of us now start at 7:30 and others at 8:30 so fewer of us are in the building at the same time. And, some tasks that we used to do in the morning we now do after we return from our routes. This has made us feel a bit safer in the building. The postal service gave us masks, gloves and sanitizer during the first week of April. Before then, we had no protective equipment and I began to wear my own mask during March. It is good to have the equipment but there is no convenient way to wash our hands on a regular basis throughout the day.
Q. What can you tell us about the support you have received from your employer?
A. The postal service has made accommodations for those looking to use FMLA time (Family Medical Leave Act) to care for children and other family members. There has been no increase in pay for during the pandemic. For customers and employees, the postal service has installed plastic barriers and placed tape on the floor to limit the exposure to others and maintain social distancing.
Q. What is your view of Governor Murphy’s restrictions?A. Governor Murphy has done an excellent job and I agree with the lock down he has put in place. I am very concerned about removing restrictions too soon, and I hope we do not go backwards on the progress we have made.
Q. What can you tell us about the customers?
A. Everyone wants to stay safe and customers have been nice and maintained their social distance. Where I cannot leave the mail outside or slip it under a door, customers know I need to be in and out quickly and I am not able to stop for casual conversation. It is nice to see the signs of appreciation some people have put up. A local person even put up a large sign in front of our post office in Succasunna.
Q. What else would you like us to know about you or your job?
A. I believe I had COVID in early April. I had some of the symptoms, but they were mild and my doctor did not send me for a test. I self-quarantined for two weeks and I am thankful my family did not get sick. Although it has been over a month, I am just getting back now to feeling 100%. I am concerned about my six-year old who will be starting first grade in the fall. We have been doing the best we can with homeschooling and I hope he will do well when the schools reopen. Lastly, we need everyone to follow the rules, including wearing masks where required. In the office sometimes people don’t wear masks and the rules are not always enforced.
This interview with Stephanie was conducted by Andy Meissner on May 7, 2020. We thank Stephanie very much for sharing her story with us.