An interview with a student employee
by Michael Jack O’Brien
Here at the paper, sometimes the flow of news gets slow, and instead of languishing in our own lack of stories, we then decide to make our own content. The mailroom in the McGinley basement is one of the rarely talked about, but vital services that Fordham provides. The unsung heroes of students across the campus, the mailroom is the spot that the entire student body receives online purchases, letters from home, care packages and anything else that can fit in a box. Of course, the mailroom isn’t all flowers and rainbows; things get busy, and the line to receive packages can oftentimes grind to a glacial pace, with the queue growing across the basement and up the stairs. To get some insight into what working at the mailroom is like, the paper decided to contact a student that works there and ask them a few questions.
What’s it like working there?
It’s a good job, the people who work there full-time are really nice, the manager is down to earth and understanding. It’s difficult sometimes to fit in hours during the week with classes as it closes before 4pm everyday, so I work a lot in between class and other things. There isn’t a ton of student workers, and not too much down time to do homework. But other than that, it’s a cool job.
What’s the busiest the mailroom has been in your memory?
Probably during Christmas time or a beginning of a semester—that’s when it’s the busiest. Everyone is ordering textbooks, gifts, getting things from their parents and family, etc. Usually around 1pm (or in between Fordham classes) it gets pretty busy – while working it’s hard to gauge just how busy it is, because you can’t see just how massive the line is that backs up to the stairs at times.
With the increased number of Amazon and online shopping orders coming into the mailroom, do you think you’re underequipped to deal with these packages? Are there any major problems with how the mailroom runs?
I wouldn’t say its under-equipped, no. At times where there is an influx of packages delivered, like I mentioned above, there’s not many people working in the back to process those packages, just a few guys. So, it’s a lot of work for them to process more than usual. I don’t think there are many major problems… at times it can be understaffed, but at the same time it’s difficult to work when there are a lot of people there trying to do similar tasks.
How many packages do you receive per day, on average?
I’m not positive. Some days are certainly busier than others. While sometimes it’s easy to predict, like around holidays/semester starts, sometimes it’s not that predictable. The guys in the back do a lot of work to process pretty quickly though – there are huge tubs of packages dropped off from USPS or FedEx that all have to be gone through, sorted, scanned, assigned a sticker and yellow card, and shelved.
What would you like to see changed about how we deal with packages at the school? What annoys you the most?
The people there are efficient, and I think everyone knows how to work under a little bit of pressure. The one thing I would change is the email system, because many students don’t really understand the notification. Several times in each day that I’m working, students might show me emails they received from the post office, and some believe that every email means a new package when in reality, it’s often a duplicate. If the email that was sent out made it more explicit which package it was referring to, that may draw students’ attention to the fact that one could receive several notifications about the same package, depending on how long they wait to pick it up. Also, I think the post office should emphasize the time between delivery and when its ready to be picked up.
A lot of students come to the window showing Amazon apps that say the package delivered that day, and I always try to explain the gap of time it takes between when it arrives here, and the process it has to go through to be shelved and assigned to a student and their mailbox. However, that time varies – sometimes things could be processed the day of arrival, other times at busier weeks, it could take 3-4 days after it was delivered. All in all, it’s hard to tell someone the textbook they need for tonight’s homework may be in the back but that it’d be impossible to look through hundreds of alike packages to find their one package — I hate letting people down, because I understand how it feels – I’m a student too! That’s why if the post office or its emails emphasized the process it goes through, it might make more sense to students, and they wouldn’t find it so frustrating sometimes.