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Going Postal With Ann Curry

 

man_shooting

 

*Going postal, in American English slang, means becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment.

Though the movie about the same thing says their Wikipedia research claims going postal describes a person who commits murder, mass murder or goes on a killing spree (isn't that all murder? Bless the redundant for they know not what they know.) Typically in the workplace. Generally with a firearm and usually by a former or current employee.

Recent news has now exposed NBC for the workplace abuse of the beloved Ann Curry.

 Anyone who knows of Ann know she is one of the more sensitive news casters and I am certain that made her prey for the powers that be.  All it takes is a little bit of power given to a sanctimonious inflated manager infused with an already suffering news station and the first person he/she is going to attack is the most vulnerable.  Ann Curry was that victim.

Now if you are one of those that say "Hey Ann, get on with your life and get over it" remember, at any time, any one of us can be walking down the street or in a facility when this sort of thing breaks out. 

In 1986 at the Redmond, Oklahoma Post Office the words 'going postal' were coined with the first Post Office mass shooting. Patrick Sherrill got up for the last time, dressed, donned a few accessories, bullets, an extra clip, a gun, nothing unusual, and headed to the Post Office. Nope he didn't need to mail anything, at least not at that time, no, he was on a mission.

But even before Sherrill, there were 4 PO shootings:

*August 19, 1983, Johnston, South Carolina: Perry Smith, a resigned USPSemployee, charged into a postal office with a 12-gauge shotgun and began firing at workers in a hall, killing the postmaster and wounding two other employees.

December 2, 1983, Anniston, Alabama: James Brooks (age fifty-three) entered into the Anniston, Alabama, post office with a .38 caliber pistol and killed the postmaster and shot and injured his immediate supervisor. Subsequent to killing the postmaster, James Brooks ran up the stairs of the building pursuing his supervisor and shooting him twice. (Musacco, 2009)

March 6, 1985, Atlanta, GeorgiaSteven Brownlee with 12 years of service, opened fire on the night shift in the Atlanta, Georgia, main post office with a .22 caliber pistol and killed a supervisor and a coworker, including wounding a third coworker in a mail sorting area. (Musacco, 2009)

November 15, 1985, Manitou, Oklahoma: Forrest Albert (F.A) Reffner (Age 39) entered the Manitou Post Office to check his elderly mothers mail when, Arvell "Pete" Conner (Age 74) comes in armed with a .38 caliber, then begins an argument with Reffner. Pete Conner then shoots & kills Reffner inside main Post Office.

 

 

 

 

All after the famous management style change. At the Post Office, where Sherril worked, already stressed out carriers and employees were treated to new kind of management. Management that expected increased productivity.

I have always been wondrous about mailmen.

When I was a small child, our mailman was Wayne Nissen. A neighbor who lived across the street. Wayne was exactly like the prototypical Mailman long before all the bad publicity and stereotypes we have today. He knew all his recipients. Of course he would on our block, but he knew people everywhere. How do I know this?

I spent many days and nights at their house. Their oldest son Mark was exactly almost to the day 1 year younger than I. He was a blond feather headed handsome boy and even at 4 years old, I knew he was a catch. We were both born on Father's day. He was born June 20th, 1954 and I was born June 21st, 1953. We were distractingly close. We were also very bad. Mischievous is too light of a term. No we were the pioneering mafia that Kenosha knows so well today. Yes, it started in our very young blood.

We offered protection to certain nerds in the neighborhood, collecting pennies and nickels wherever their was an insecure child not liked very much by others. And we exacted our revenge, once getting caught when we threw rocks on a neighbor's lawn that almost put the father of our intended's eye out. We were bad...bad to the bone. Wherever there was one of us, there was the other. 

We were also very Catholic. We would play nun and priest. Do the mass, discipline Chatty Cathy and Patty PlayPal.  We did have a modicum of morality. But this being Catholic was serious stuff.

When my dad and Mark's mom started liking each other a little too well, Wayne, his dad was devastated. But Mark and I were equally devastated. This certainly would call an end to Mark's and my relationship, but we also had to recognize we would be children of divorce.

Wayne was wonderful, sweet, generous, I cannot think of a unkind word about the man.

He would come home earlier than most dad's, around 4:00 pm. But he went to work far earlier than most dads. Far earlier than almost anyone. He always brought treats and treasures. The post office was run like a family back then. Things were not exactly relaxed, but still, Wayne talked often of the sorter, carriers and ancillary staff that he called friends. They spent holidays together as if seeing everyone day in and day out wasn't enough.

They had dead letter day once a year.  I do not know nor care if this was legal because it was harmless.

Seven years after a dead letter was sitting in the Post Office, the employees were allowed to filter through the stuff. They never opened personal mail. Nope, those same letters are probably still sitting there. But they could open parcels and things of that nature. This was of course after every means to find the person had been exhausted. And knowing Wayne and being in the city of Kenosha Wisconsin I doubt if there was much to chose from since both recipient and sender would be known to everyone. Very little business stuff was in there. In Kenosha, if a business folded, everyone knew and it was never impossible to find the place where their mail got forwarded. Every once in a while he brought home something special and one instance will stay with me forever.

Wayne had happened upon a BOX OF YO-YOS!! Everyone had a Yo-yo. And they weren't the cheap bottom of the line little wood bobbers, no, these were PLASTIC see through with colors streaking through them that made the yo-yo turn into a brilliant piece of artwork. There were 12. And I was told they had the signs of the zodiac which didn't mean a hell of a lot to me – I just loved my indestructible plastic yo-yo with the crab on it. Now today I know that was incorrect, but really, who was Wayne gonna give the Gemini yo-yo to? And in certain horoscopes, I am, in fact, a cancer. Every time I see a yo-yo, I recollect that day and how special we all felt with our own personal yo-yo.

Wayne was not a complainer, but you could actually feel his stress around Christmas. When the rest of us were enjoying the season, he would come in later than usual and really not spend as much time with us. I do not know how much money he made, but it seemed those Christmas bonuses from his route made a big difference for their Christmas.

This was at a time when government employees were not under the consternation of losing their jobs if they accept gifts. At that time it was not unusual to give your mailman one or two bucks. And in 1958, that was around $10 today. I don't think one person forgot Wayne on Christmas. He brought home hundreds of dollars, cookies, cakes and gift certificates.

Wayne killed himself. Now, in all fairness, it probably wasn't his job as much as it was my dad and his wife. But the job didn't help anything. He was always in pain. His legs especially, but his back was the worst and day in and day out, he would fall to the sofa asking for us to do his bidding because once his butt hit a cushion, he was not able to get up for quite a while. The pain was debilitating.

Wayne will always be my image of the perfect and happy U.S Postal worker.

I have tried to do the math...ever since I could do math to understand the price of a stamp and the service I get for it. In 1958 a postage stamp was 3 cents

 

. THREE CENTS!

That 3 cents took my letter from my mailbox to downtown Milwaukee, 26 miles away and then back to Kenosha (don't ask because I don't know) to be delivered to whomever it was intended. They could have saved at least one penny of that three cents by not having our mail routed to another city only to be sent back.   But that three cents bought me even more. If that letter was addressed to someone across the United States, it would still cost the same thing and be carried by several trucks and people. That three cents paid the salaries of all the postal workers who touched my letter. And today, 33 cents pays for a plane ticket for that letter. There is no fuzzy math to explain any of it. And the USPS has not asked for money from the government since 1980.

Even without the math, look at the conditions.  Weather, yes we all now the ...nor rain...nor sleet, etc.

cat-mailman-dogs

 

But also ornery clients and even angrier dogs.

1980. Never asked for another dime from us. But what price we pay.

USPS brought in young aggressive managers that demanded and demeaned employees. One woman said she was called an ass by management the first day she sorted. The next day she was called a jerk She thought she got promoted.

USPS said Pat Sherrill was crazy, a loon.

In 1991 at the Royal Oak Michigan Post Office after four more P.O.s were hit, Thomas McIlvane waited until 15 months after being fired without reasonablecause and down to his last dime, repeated what so many disgruntled postal workers did before him and killed 4 and wounded 5 before turning the gun on himself.

Anthony Frank, the postmaster general at the time actually said "I am unwilling to have the Postal service judged on the basis of someone mentally deranged ,demonstratively mentally deranged and should have never been hired."

Yet Frank knew of these issues. The Royal Oak Post Office had been the subject of a U.S. Senate Investigation because of “an unusually large amount of complaints from employees”.

The Union Steward, Charlie Withers: “You have a guy doing his job...attempting to do his job and they pick him apart. They ruin his life. How do they ruin his life? They take away the only thing he had going for him. He loved his job, he loved being outside. So you hit him in his pocket book, you start suspending him, you kill his morale. You take the money out of his pocket you start filing false charges on him. They ruin people and that's what they did.”

It seems McIlvane's only crime was sticking up for other employees and signing paperwork about complaints to management for them.

They accused him of doing stupid things. Wearing his shorts too tight and gassing up his truck too soon. The piece de resistance, one of the higher ups actually filed a formal complaint:

“...and as I entered the lavatory facilities, I witnessed one stall occupied. I could hear the rustling of a newspaper as the pages were being turned. I initially looked in the seam of the door and could see that in fact the employee [McIlvane] was reading a newspaper and not in utilization of the facilities. I then went in the neighboring stall and looked over the divider to be absolutely sure.”

Who reported THAT guy for having nothing better to do?

During the investigation, tapes were taken from McIlvane's house that had incriminating messages from his supervisors even after he had been fired. Not only was he living with the fact that his livelihood was taken, but then had continued harassment. The tapes were subsequently erased and the P.O. was found accountable for tampering with evidence.

You see, he had tried to file for unemployment, but he was suspended, no unemployment since he was not actually fired. He had no means to support himself. And then he has to contend with further abuse?

In 6 months, Patrick Sherrill's disciplinary file contained an inch of paperwork. His coworkers advised him to file a grievance with the Union. It was his coworkers that substantiated the facts. That being said, Patrick was a respected and hard working employee. But the Union failed him and said he didn't have a case. Meanwhile management came down harder and harder, increasing his route, decreasing allowed delivery hours.

 

 Add to that some just plain old fashioned bullying like a bunch of 12 year old boys harassing the kid with the dental head gear. 

“They just wouldn't get off his back” Tracey Sanchez, co-worker.

To elaborate on how absolutely horrible these supervisors were, upon their assassination by McIlvane, the employees said "they felt bad, no one should get killed, but there was a sense of relief those people were now gone".

Can you imagine being so hated, or having a relative, so reviled, that even after their violent death, everyone is relieved?

Christopher Carlisle, Richard Esser and Bill Bland died a terrible death that they brought down upon themselves. So despised was Carlisle that on the memorial plaque honoring those killed, his name had been defaced with read ink. One employee said "When I heard that Christopher Carlisle was killed, needless to say, I was very happy."

Needless to say.

One woman said "you don't want to see people die, but there was an overwhelming sense of relief that those people were gone.”

Where did this management team come from? The management group from the Indianapolis Post Office came north to Royal Oak. This management group had previously been investigated by the General Accounting Office for abuses toward workers. 

After all the horrors of the incident at Royal Oak, management still didn't get the message.

No workman's comp was paid to any employees, only management due to the shootings. None of the employees realized compensation. Only management.

So what does this have to do with Ann Curry?

You may or may not have heard that Ms. Curry's time seated next to Matt Lauer was nothing but painful as executives on the staff worked hard to get her ousted. In her words, it was torture. Executive producer Jim Bell had a blooper reel of her worst moments. Not funniest, not even entertaining. Just painful to watch.

**On a separate occasion, Bell called staffers into his office to make fun of a gaffe Curry made. Bell, however, has denied both incidents.

In yet another slight against her, a box of Curry's belongings were shoved by someone into a coat closet as if she had already been ousted.

According to an unnamed Today Show employee, staffers working in the control room would routinely poke fun at Curry's fashion choices and generally make her the butt of their jokes. In one instance, Curry wore a bright yellow dress, which drew comparisons from her critics on staff to Big Bird.

Taking the joke to the next level, some staffers, the majority of whom are men, Photoshopped a picture of the Sesame Street character next to Curry and asked co-workers to vote on 'Who wore it best?'

What ended with Curry relinquishing her post as a co-host of Today in a tearful and awkward farewell show last June reportedly started months earlier in what Bell secretly dubbed 'Operation Bambi' meant to force Curry out, the Times reported.

It seems Ms. Curry was hired just as ratings were dropping, and much like any incumbent of any bad situation, that person is going to carry the brunt of those ratings drop. So Bell decided it was all Curry's fault. The reason for the 'Operation Bambi' is because it was said, firing Curry would be like killing Bambi.

 

Now think about that. The most high at NBC knew firing her would be akin to killing a small helpless fawn. WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING?

**But the hostilities surrounding the Today Show went beyond the simmering resentment between Bell and Curry. Steve Capus, the president of NBC News and Bell's boss, refused to get behind the producer's plan to oust Curry, claiming that her departure would bump Today to second place behind GMA.

Convinced that Curry had to go, Bell allegedly broke chain of command and went behind Capus' back to Steve Burke, the chief executive of NBCUniversal, who green-lighted 'Operation Bambi.'

This did not fair well for these idiots. People have been calling and writing NBC demanding Lauer's resignation, or firing. I am for the latter. Bell has been unceremoniusly demoted from Executive Producer of The Today Show to Executive Producer of the USInternational Olympics...whatever that is.

But what about Ann?

Women never give into the need to don a rifle or take an AK47 to a rooftop.

That is why men do not seem to worry when they provide the means for such violence when they harass women.

I worked in hostile environments my entire working career. I chose to work in an industry where I was only .01% of the population. It happened daily, and often. First they would just use my gender and the lack of respect that particular lot in life allowed. Then when they found out I was gay, it escalated. There is a tape of a bachelor party where almost all the men from my workplace attended. There is some 'women on women' action and in the background you can hear them saying “D__ ought to be here, I'll bet she can show these girls how to do it right.” I don't know. Should I take that as a compliment?

I would cry all the way home. I would not sleep. I worked harder and harder to get half as far as the men. My work never suffered, but my attitude did. I often thought of going in and shooting the whole lot of them. And then going to dinner.

This was from the late 80's until 2005. Things were better up north than in the deep south, and eventually I started my own company, but I still suffered. Maybe not with the daily muck that comes out of idiot managers mouth's, but financially, I had to low ball to get projects due to my status as a woman.

I could have avoided this by taking city and state jobs that allow the front men to get paid more if they used female owned firms. But those projects started with a bad cash flow and most times paid even less.

My point is, Ann Curry shows great restraint and now her story is public.

I do not approve of workplace violence. No one really does. But the responsibility needs to go where it deserves and each and every case needs to be listened to before it becomes something worse.

I love Ann Curry, a lot of people do/did. I wish her all the best.

Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported.  Every bill has been turned down due to the additional bills being tagged at the end.  The Bill by itself would pass, but that is lobbying in Washington and I am certain corporations greased a few palms to get the bill rewritten in fear of potential lawsuits.  Instead of being proactive, they continue to deny culpability

And for all of you managerial staff that have been behaving badly. Re-read this.

 

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