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The Postal Service goes to great lengths to stick to their mantra, "Every piece, every day".

Peach Springs, AZ Mule Mail

The Peach Springs, AZ, Post Office has walk-in freezers for food destined for delivery to the bottom of the Grand Canyon by mule train. A string of mules accompanied by a wrangler on horseback makes the 16-mile round trip into the Grand Canyon six days a week. But for the USPS contractor the journey is much longer, picking up mail at Peach Springs, Arizona, and trucking it along 60 miles of a desolate road maintained by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. The road ends at Hualapai Hilltop, where the eight mile trail to Supai begins. No vehicles are permitted. The mule train will take almost anything you can stick a stamp on. Express mail? They just tie it on the mule and turn him loose and he runs all the way down.

Another Unusual Delivery Method — boat delivery on the Detroit River in Michigan. The JW Westcott is a 45-foot contract mail boat out of Detroit that delivers mail to passing ships while they are underway. The JW Westcott has its own ZIP Code — 48222 which is the only floating zip code. The mail is delivered to the appropriate ships (mainly lake freighters) as they transit the Detroit River, utilizing ropes and buckets.

Mangum, OK. boasts the longest route. A rural carrier travels 182.75 miles daily and delivers to 248 boxes. Could you imagine driving 913.75 miles per week to do your route? That's 47,515 miles per year! That's just crazy!

After hearing about these strange routes, I'm thankful for my rather mundane route and commend those going above and beyond to reach every home in America every day!

The NALC Health Benefit plans offer an online health assessment with rewards! The health assessment is a set of questions that helps you understand how you can improve or maintain your health. After you complete the health assessment, you'll get a customized plan to help you address any health risks you've identified as well as selecting one of three different rewards. Depending on your plan you can choose from a fitness tracker, dental discounts, and a voucher to waive copays.

When you're ready to take your assessment and start working on a healthier you, click here.

This same site will give you access to healthy rewards discounts and tons of other useful helth information. It only takes a few moments to sign up and its free! What are you waiting for?

UPDATE: I selected to fitness tracker after doing my assessment and just got it via Priority Mail. It was a Fitbit Flex!

Fitbit Flex

You just found out your getting converted. Now what? Aside from finally getting your own route, the paperwork side of things can get confusing so here are some links, guides, and tip to make it all a little easier.

First of all, the timeline:

Within 31 days from conversion, you can sign up for FEGLI (Federal Employee’s Group Life Insurance)

Within 60 days from conversion, you can enroll in health/vision/dental insurance

Within 90 days from conversion, you can NOT use annual leave but you can use sick leave.

At any point after conversion you can enroll in MBA Insurance plans and adjust your TSP contributions

First let’s go over FEGLI. It’s pretty reasonably priced life insurance. You have 60 days from conversion to change your enrollment. Here is the application form. If you do nothing, you will automatically be enrolled in the Basic plan. If you would like, you can increase your coverage with the attached form for a very nominal price (a few dollars a paycheck). You can also purchase insurance for your family as well. Here is a link to the cost calculator for FEGLI so you can see how much it would cost per paycheck before you enroll. FEGLI Calculator Once you complete the enrollment form, give it to your supervisor.

Second, you can enroll in Health/Dental/Vision benefits within the first 60 days as well. Here is a guide for how to sign up for health benefits once you compare plans and find the plan code you want to elect. You can compare plans here . Here is more information on the NALC health plan summaries. For vision and dental (FEDVIP) as well as long term care, go to Benefeds.

Third, let’s talk TSP. If you do nothing, you will be enrolled at a 3% contribution rate. So, three percent of your paycheck goes into your Thrift Savings Plan. I suggest you go onto LiteBlue and increase your contribution up to at least 5% for maximum employer contributions. If you give 5%, the employer will match up to 5%. You can give more but the employer maxes out at 5%. Here is a link to the page on TPS. Scroll to the bottom, and you will see the link to PostalEase where you can change your elections.

And then there is the NALC Mutual Benefits Association. To learn more about all the plans they offer, click here . Most plans are different types of life insurance but there is also a retirement plan as well as a hospital insurance plan. It’s worth a few minutes to check them out.

Other interesting conversion facts:

  • You can bid on routes as soon as you get converted. (If any are available) You bid with eJob Bidding on LiteBlue.

  • Your unused annual leave will be paid out. You will be bought out just like when you were a CCA separated at 360 days but you will not have to re-enroll in direct deposit.

  • You cannot use your annual leave for 90 calendar days but you can use your sick leave right away. You accrue sick leave at the same rate as annual leave.

  • You can elect between 8 hours only and work assignment once you are converted. You cannot go onto the overtime desired list until the start of a new quarter.

  • You are guaranteed 8 hours a day. If you punch out earlier than 8 hours, you will need to fill out a 3971 and designate if you would like to use annual leave or LWOP for the different in making 8 hours.

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