Linda Beckman was driving around Bloomington the other morning, making stops every 25 feet or so, to bid tidings, among other things.

“Well, hi there, Maggie!” she screamed out. That was a stop along Stephanie Way.

“Oh, that George and Ernie, they are the nicest pair!” Linda said, over on Windsong Way.

Linda Beckman?

She is a federal courier for the U.S. Postal Service — a mail carrier, in other words.

“I know almost all the dogs along the route (some 500 homes), maybe more by name than the people,” says Linda. “You just get to know things like that.”

That, and maybe everything else.

You ever stop to think just what your mail person knows about you, without even a desire to?

A carrier knows where you live, when you’re not home and on vacation. From your magazines they know of your interests; from your letters, they know where you bank, have your car repaired; from your bills, they know when you need to go to the dentist; from your catalogs, they know where you like to shop.

Ditto the guys from companies like UPS and FedEx.

“Oh yeah,” laughs Eric Johnson, of Lincoln. “(From an increase of deliveries) I think Amazon is taking over the world.”

The latest way to know online shopping is growing?

Dog bites. They are way up, Eric will tell you.

The postal/delivery services keep track of such things — reported dog bites last year rose to 6,755 cases in the U.S., up 6 percent from 2015 — numbers officials attribute directly to the “boom” of internet shopping and delivery.

Therein also is an irony of the time.

In a world that seems less secure — one in which you don't like people knowing your Social Security number, or your phone number, and you worry about identity theft — there are the people who enter our lives daily because of their jobs … and know a lot about us anyway.

Just for fun, we’ve recently been asking those in public service for their observations about us that also reveal about us:

The three things your garbage/disposal people dislike most:

— Un-bagged and un-secured trash, especially on windy days.

— Putting stuff in the garbage that shouldn't be garbage. ("I once had a guy who emptied the sewage from his camper into a garbage bag that then exploded all over the neighborhood when we compacted (the trash),” says one garbage collector. Says another, “Dead animals, like rabbits, in summer and stuffed in the trash. Awful."

— Residents who clean out the barbecue grill or fireplace and dump the ash into a trash container. ("When you open the can on a windy day and the dust pours into your face, it's, like — why thank you, buddy!")

In rural areas, if you cheat (or “poach,” as they call it) and put your trash in others’ bins to avoid paying for the service themselves, it may work for awhile, says a McLean/Logan County garbage collector, but not for long.

"If you don’t have trash, garbage collectors know you’re putting it in someone else’s bins. And your trash has your name and address all over it — so if a guy really wants to find out whose garbage is where, he can just look in the bags … ."

Avoid going to a restaurant on Valentine's Day or Mother’s Day, suggests one B-N waitress. Because everyone else does, you will get the “worst service and worst meal of the year … when you’re trying to impress most.”

What gnaws at your hairdresser: Nah, not dirty hair. ("We learn to live with that," said one.) Instead, at places that schedule, when you are late by more than five minutes.

The three worst restaurant customers: 

— People having a bad day who "take it out on us."

— Obnoxious kids, “surrounded by oblivious or ignoring parents.”

— Diners who perpetually look for something wrong with their meals so they then can ask for a discount or a new meal.

A fast-food counter clerk's observation: 

"Customers all seem a little crabbier today," says one at DQ. "You'd think the addition of a pickle to a sandwich was going to ruin someone's life."

A grocery checker's lament:

Those who cheat in the 12-items-or-less line. (“It REALLY bugs those behind them … and they then tell us,” says one checker.)

Worst area for travel in B-N:

We talked with a Connect Transit driver and a cabbie, and the Fairway Drive-outlet road at Empire and Regency/Fairway is, by consensus, probably most dreaded. (“The cars that have to stop at the stop sign (to continue south on Regency) seem to think that when the light turns green, they no longer have to stop at the stop sign,” says one cabbie.)

The most humorous discovery discovered?

Has to do with your recycling.

“With the plastic bins that (in towns like B-N) empty directly onto a truck, you don't see as much of peoples' trash anymore,” says one driver. “But when you hear lots of bottles crashing (into the compactor from the recycling bin) on a weekday morning, you know they must have had a helluva party last weekend.”

He paused a moment to then add, “Or a really bad week.”


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