By Dominic Lucchesi
“The mail never stops! It just keeps coming and coming and coming, there’s never a let-up! It’s relentless! Every day it piles up more and more and more! And you gotta get it out! But the more you get it out the more it keeps coming in! ” — Newman
Like most large companies or institutions, the City of Berkeley has a mail room. This particular room is in the basement of 1947 Center St. It is here that the city’s mail is received and sorted to be dispersed to the various departments and offices in Downtown Berkeley.
For nearly two decades, Pedal Express has worked with the City of Berkeley to help with the distribution process. A substantial part of our daily routes consist of picking up city mail from the mail room and delivering it to outlying departments such as the Berkeley Housing Authority, Corporation Yards, the Public Health Clinic, and the Berkeley Marina. At each stop, we exchange incoming mail and take outgoing items to be returned to the mailroom and sorted for other departments. In this way, the bicycle couriers of Pedal Express act as a crucial part of the City of Berkeley’s communication network.
(We provide a similar service for the City of Emeryville. To our knowledge, Berkeley and Emeryville are the only two cities that use bicycle couriers for their internal mail distribution.) In addition to our daily delivery duties, Pedal Express is trained to run the City’s entire mailroom operation in the event that Matthew (the mailroom clerk) is sick or out of town. It just so happens that Matthew has been on vacation for the entire month of November.
This month, while Pedal Express is busy moving all sorts of things across the East Bay per usual, we have also been in charge of the Berkeley mail room. It’s an interesting job that provides us with a unique opportunity to work closely with the folks who help make the City of Berkeley function properly. Running the mail room is largely a one-person operation. Each morning, either Nick or I will pick up the Berkeley mail from the main Post Office before heading to the mail room, ready to sort through hundreds of pieces of mail.
Throughout the course of the day, we will deliver mail to 40+ departments in four buildings in downtown Berkeley. These departments include Mayor Tom Bate’s office, Finance, Parks and Recreation, Rent Board, Planning, Engineering, Revenue Collection, City Auditor, IT, Human Resources, Police and Fire, and so on. We have an official badge that allows us to wander the City Hall offices with impunity. It’s great.
Aside from mingling with the busy bees around City Hall, perhaps the most fun part of this particular job is playing with the huge metering machine. This is what we use to apply postage to the hundreds and thousands of pieces of outgoing mail that the City sends out on the daily.
Working in the mail room is a unique experience. We get to see a side of Berkeley that most people don’t. Still, the mail room job can be a lonely one. We spend long stretches of time in the basement with very little human contact. It can start to do funny things to a person. Thus, we affectionately refer to the mail room as “The Cave.”
With the end of the month upon us, our time working in the mail room will soon come to an end. I suppose we’ll occasionally miss the steady pace of city work and the warm shelter of The Cave when it’s raining outside, but lemme tell ya, I cannot wait to get back in the saddle full time for Pedal Express. See you in the streets!