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Q&A: Mail Services at Frist

The Street went behind the scenes to talk to the people who sift through and organize all of our packages; from last-minute textbooks and halloween costumes torefrigeratorsand dorm decorations. We sat down with part-time mail carrier Darla Garrison to hear about the inner workings of the Princeton Mail Services.


The Daily Princetonian: When and how did you first start working at Mail Services?

Darla Garrison: I’ve been working here for two and a half years. After retirement, I was looking for a part time job to gain a little extra income. I found out through a website that Princeton was hiring for a mail carrier, so I applied for it [the position]. After five interviews, I got the job!

DP: Five interviews! Everything at Princeton is so selective.

DG: Yeah… I’m the shortest one here, and it takes a lot of effort to get to the top shelf ... *laughs* But I’m ok! I use the ladder a lot. They should probably set a height requirement for this job…

DP: It’s alright. That’s what the ladders are for.

DG: That’s what they say.


DP: So is Mail Services what you expected it to be like?

DG: Nah, I had a whole different picture in my head about a mail carrier —they will be driving a truck and delivering packages to the dorms. That’s not how Mail Services is...*laughs*

DP: Are you happy about that?

DG: I’m very happy, because I don’t wanna wear that little hat and drive that little thing…*laughs* So I got to Mail Services, and I enjoy it tremendously. TREMENDOUSLY.

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DP: What do you enjoy the most working at the Mail Services?

DG: The student interaction. Young students come in, all excited, sometimes they don’t know their mailbox number… but you get to learn things about them. You see certain ones who are familiar, and you know their first names; they light up because you know their first names, and I just love that. Especially when you are older and you have the youth around you… it makes you feel young.

DP: So how exactly does Mail Services work?

DG: What happens here is, we get the packages from the United States Postal Service – they come in in the morning, we label them for the students, we verify other information, and then we send out emails to the students to come pick up packages.

DP: Have you encountered problems with students when they fail to get their packages?

DG: A lot of the times the students get frustrated because when the postal service says online that “your package has arrived,” the package is actually still sitting in a hamper in the post office – the post office consider the package delivered when it’s put into a hamper. And that’s frustrating for the students because they really don’t understand how it works. They probably think to themselves that we are harboring their packages and not giving it to them… You know when they receive things from home or order something online, they are anxious to get it. So we try to explain to them, especially the new students. And when we do, they are alright with it, and they are generally very respectful.

DP: How many packages do you receive on a daily basis?

DG: Normally on a heavy day, we may get two thousand. On a regular day, five to seven hundred. On a light day, around four hundred.

DP: When are the heaviest days?

DG: In the beginning of the year when students come in, August to October, it’s very heavy. We get couches, refrigerators, beds, futons, bicycles, TVs… Everything from home. It’s hectic. Now it starts to slow down.

DP: Do you ever feel bored doing the same thing over and over again for years?

DG: No, never. If you come to my window, I’m always playing some music. We are always alive and happy! And it’s important to be accurate. A lot of times the packages will come with a nickname, or a middle name that we don’t have on record, or a parent’s name, so we need to double-check and verify. A lot of details get into these packages, so it doesn’t get boring at all. And they just keep coming! *laughs*

DP: Are you happy that there’s a stationary office, or do you think it will be nicer to go around the campus and distribute the packages?

DG: No, I like when they come to me…*laughs* I love that part.

DP: Would that have more interaction with students though?

DG: Actually no, I’ve seen the mailman come, and he just goes to certain offices. He’s kind of invisible. While at the window, there’s personality, there’s a face, and it’s more one-on-one. I like that! I like to have fun. You do have to pay attention, but I like [the Mail Services] to be…exciting!