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Detroit Mercy mail services men keep packages flowing across campus

On February 20, 2018

Varsity News photo / LOREAL DODSON

Marcus Williams and George Eason work sorting mail for Detroit Mercy.

 

BY LAUREN SHARKEY and MIJAI LEWIS / VARSITY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Every day, hundreds of pieces of mail arrive on campus.

It falls to a crew of three men to handle most of it at the Detroit Mercy mailroom in the facility operations building between Calihan Hall and the Commerce and Finance Building.

For them, work starts around 8 a.m., when they arrive on campus, a half hour before the mail room opens.

“We get here early so that we can make sure we are settled in and ready to take on the day before the students arrive and start asking for their packages,” explained George Eason.

When the delivery truck comes, it usually has between 40 to 100 packages – and hundreds of pieces of mail.

“At the beginning of every semester, it is what we call ‘hell week’ because we get so many packages,” said Chaka Hughes, who has worked in the mail department for 16 years. “Nowadays, most students order their textbooks online … so we get tons and tons of books.”

Christmas time brings a lot of packages, too.

“But the craziest time is the beginning of the semester by far,” said Hughes.

It takes anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes to unload the truck.

Every package has to be scanned and organized by last name.

The scanning process generates an email to alert students and faculty that they’ve received a delivery.

The men assist students who come in to retrieve their packages.

“It can get pretty hectic in here sometimes if there is a big load of packages that day and there are a lot of students trying to pick (them up) while we are still trying to scan them,” said Hughes.

Lines sometimes form during busy times, because students often come during the same ten-minute window between classes.

In addition to packages, four to five tubs of mail need to be distributed.

“We separate the letters and flats, bundle them up according to whatever department they are for and then deliver them throughout the day,” said Hughes.

Student mail is packaged and sent to quad commons, where work-study students place letters in student mail boxes.

Mostly, it’s a seamless enterprise.

But there have been some funny moments, said Hughes.

Some years ago, Hughes was picking up mail at Fisher Building.

The financial aid office was sending out its award letters – five to six hundred of them.

It was a windy day.

As Hughes emerged from the tunnel, a gust grabbed hundreds of letters and sent them airborne.

Around the Fountain Lounge and in front of the Fisher Building, “it looked like it was snowing,” said Hughes.

He retrieved as many as he could, and went back to financial aid and told the workers what had happened.

It was a learning process for him.

He said he knows now how to keep mail bundled and properly secure when it’s windy outside. 

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