Reflections from the mail room

By Maddie Reed

Opinion Contributor

Canisius has had an eventful start to the semester and The Griffin has been key in documenting it all. There’s been talk of the parking ramp, the new Tim Horton’s, changes in the dining hall, our dynamic athletics department, and more. All of these stories are important and expose us to significant news on campus, but we can’t forget all the things that happen behind the scenes every day to keep our campus functioning properly. An example of this is the wonderful world of the mail room.

As a Resident Assistance in the Delavan Townhouses, I had to work in the mail room for the first three weeks of the semester, hitting a total of almost 30 hours. All off-campus RAs do this in order to give us approximately the same number of hours that the on-campus RAs work in the Office of Student Life throughout the semester. The reason the mail room is chosen is because within the first month of the semester, the mail room received up to 5,000 parcels for students, staff, and faculty.  Every morning and early afternoon, trucks pull up to the side of Science Hall with hundreds of packages that the mail room staff has to document, organize, and distribute. In my three weeks, I saw everything from books to flat screen TVs to live specimens for the ABEC department enter and leave the mail room. The process between getting the parcels off the UPS or FedEx truck and into your hands is not as simple as you might think.

In my opinion, students often take advantage of the fact that the mail room is so accessible and that Amazon will get them their products within two days. Some students wait in line to get to the front window of the mail room to hear that their package has not been checked in yet, even though Amazon told them their package has arrived. They then ask if we can go look for it and check it in for them. Yes, of course, I will dig through the mound of a hundred Amazon boxes that all look the same to prioritize your new pair of shoes.

Students also take advantage of the fact that the mail room staff will spend time trying to figure out who each package is supposed to be delivered to, even when the mailing address simply says “Julie, Canisius College, etc.” True story. The mail room staff searches feverishly for clues of who each package might be addressed to, even when the address is completely incorrect and indistinguishable from every other “Julie” at Canisius.

The worst part is that some students who come to the window to pick up their packages or hear that they cannot pick up their package yet become annoyed or frustrated with the mail room staff. I promise you, they are working as fast as they can to have your lava lamp checked in and ready for you to pick up ASAP.  

I hope you can see now that the mail room is underappreciated and underrated, but what you might not know yet is how amazing the people that handle your dozens of packages each semester are. Diane is the sweetest lady you will ever meet. She welcomed me every day with a smile and friendly conversation. Diane thanked me before I left each day, when in reality, she is the one who needs to be thanked. She is a small lady but lifts a significant amount of heavy packages every day and pushes a full cart around campus to deliver everyone’s mail.

While I was working in the mail room, Steve celebrated his 42nd wedding anniversary. He pulled up a picture on the computer to show us his beautiful wife on their wedding day.  Throughout the morning, other staff members stopped by the mail room to wish Steve a happy anniversary. I had no idea that staff members of different departments in the College actually knew one another, let alone had relationships that existed beyond the realm of Canisius.

Lastly, Carl is the man who most of you have probably seen the most around campus, as he carries much of the mail that needs to be delivered to Old Main and Lyons. One of the last days I was working in the mail room, Carl told me how he would miss having the RAs around next week.  That can be taken from a job standpoint, where he will would miss having the extra help, but I know that he also meant that he would miss having us around to talk to and make the job a little more fun.

Working in the mail room isn’t the easiest job, and luckily they have a few work studies to help out for the semester, but it has a nice atmosphere and a great staff. The staff are people, too! Whether it’s a Tim Horton’s employee, an Iggy’s chef, or a mailroom worker, remember that they are people like you and me and deserve as much respect as a professor or President Hurley.

Next time you stop at Science Hall to pick up cookies that your mom mailed you, take a minute to thank the mail room staff member who helps you and be grateful for their contribution to our campus. Maybe even share a cookie with them!

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