The Right Mail Order

In the 70’s when I went to high school I also had a job on Saturdays as a postman.

I remember I had to be at the post office very early in the morning, which was hard after a Friday night out. As I wanted to be able to have a few extra hours of sleep before the Saturday Night Fever, it was crucial to get the job done as fast as possible

The first function in the daily process was hand sorting (these were old times) the letters for my route. First all letters was sorted into streets, and then each street was sorted by the house number (I lived in a fairly small town with short streets with mostly single family houses).

When sorting most streets I had two options:

  1. Have the even numbers sorted ascending followed by the odd numbers sorted descending. This was the easy way of sorting but the hard way of delivering later, as I had to move up and down the street.
  2. Sort the numbers in the order the houses was distributed along the street. This was the hard way of sorting as I had to remember the order as even (right side) and odd (left side) numbers wasn’t necessary distributed equally. But the delivery (if sorted properly) was easier, as I could move up the street in one pass and usually continue on the next street down.  

I feel so lucky I was a postman then and not today. A postman today will get the small number of physical letters we send these days sorted optimally by a geocode aware automated mechanism. No chance of learning sorting mechanisms the hard way.

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