Postal delivery people of Suffolk - is your job giving you a bad back?

Low letter boxes have become a point of contention for some postal workers Picture: Paul Hewitt

Low letter boxes have become a point of contention for some postal workers Picture: Paul Hewitt

A light-hearted debate about letter boxes in front doors has jogged our columnist’s memory about delivering mail in her youth.

As a student in the 1970s, I developed an intimate relationship with letter boxes.

BBC Breakfast has been hosting a debate with its viewers about inappropriate letter boxes, with some criticism aimed at the low-level slots because they require mail deliverers to bend down uncomfortably low to access them.

For two Christmases, I was one of the seasonal student intake at Royal Mail, delivering the Christmas post. My mum worked with a woman whose husband was a postman and she told my mum that she knew when the female students had arrived at the sorting office because her husband suddenly started putting on aftershave before heading out to work.

We would be given a big sackcloth shoulder bag, full to overflowing with Christmas cards and regular mail, to pile into a signature red mail van and be dropped off on the corner of the relevant streets.

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And then we found out about letter boxes.

As it was winter, I wore gloves and it would only be a day or two before the fingers were holed at the ends where highly-sprung letter box flaps had rebounded and trapped the ends of the gloves. Happily, my fingers were unharmed.

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Dogs on the other side of the front door could also give you a fright by taking the post out of your hand as you pushed it through.

The letter boxes that have come in for the most censure, however, are those that are set into the bottom panels of front doors, meaning you have to stoop over to insert any mail.

But they were not the most irritating, in my opinion. For me, it was the teeny letter boxes that caused the most difficulty. An A5 Christmas card had to be rolled to get it through. On these occasions I would knock on the door and hope there was someone at home to take the post. I had heard tales of Christmas post temps being offered a sherry and a mince pie in such circumstances... no such luck in my case.

There were also the vertical letter boxes, usually positioned under the keyhole which are fine. They present little challenge to the determined deliverer.

The perfect letter box? It will be horizontal, wide enough for A4, high enough for an ordered-online dvd in a cardboard cover to get through. It will be at around waist height and be lightly sprung so that it does not snap back. There will not be a dog guarding it.

Do you work for a delivery service? And do you have an issue with letterboxes? Write to me.

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