Love at first read

Hannie and Michael Clark are living — and writing — a love story.

The Pleasant Grove, UT, couple operate The Flower Letters, a mail-based subscription service that uses letters and postcards to chronicle a fictional World War II-era romance.

Hannie, an author, writes, designs and illustrates the content, while Michael, an entrepreneur, handles the business side.

The couple considered writing a novel but ultimately decided to tell their story through the mail.

“Getting a letter in the mail is so nostalgic,” Michael said.

The Flower Letters subscribers follow the budding romance between Audrey Rose Drollinger and Cpl. Charlie Henderson Burke, who meet at a Fourth of July Army Ranger dance in Tullahoma, TN.

As Audrey and Charlie move closer to D-Day in 1944, subscribers learn of a significant role each character will play in the day’s events — and whether they’ll live happily ever after.

The Clarks were inspired by other subscription services like Letters From Afar: An Explorer’s Tail Delivered By Mail, which is geared toward children.

“We thought it would be fun to do something sort of like that but our own thing,” Michael said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic also influenced the couple’s thinking.

“It’s been a heartbreaking year and it seemed timely with so many people shut in due to the pandemic. Maybe this could be something for readers to look forward to.”

A Flower Letters subscription costs $12 a month or $144 for one year, although the Clarks are offering a 15 percent discount for Valentine’s Day. The subscription consists of two letters a month, along with occasional surprises in each mailing and individually designed postcards that subscribers can use to connect with their own loved ones.

The service launched last August with 38 subscribers — a number that now exceeds 3,000, thanks to strong word-of-mouth on Facebook and Instagram.

The Clarks, who’ll celebrate their 17th anniversary in the spring, credit the Postal Service with helping to meet their small-business needs, including the convenience of sending multiple mailings at once.

“I have brought 3,000 letters in a box to drop in the mail to send all over the world — 28 countries to be exact,” Hannie said.

The Clarks are expecting a spike in subscriptions as Valentine’s Day approaches, especially as people seek unique gifts for their sweethearts.

And what could be more unique than a romance by mail?

Said Hannie: “Something magical happens in a letter.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

In remembrance

Postal Service facilities should fly the U.S. flag at half-staff to honor Ron Wright, a U.S. representative from Texas who died Feb. 7 after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset Feb. 9.

To fly the flag at half-staff, hoist the flag to the peak for an instant and then lower it to the half-staff position. The flag should be raised to the peak again before it’s lowered for the day.

The USPS Administrative Support Manual has additional guidelines on U.S. flag display and maintenance.

Event helpers

Postmasters, managers and customer services supervisors will soon receive a Business Connect kit that offers strategies for promoting USPS products and services to small businesses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration usually celebrates the first week of May as National Small Business week, and Post Offices around the nation hold Grow Your Business Day events throughout the spring leading up to that week.

“Now that the holidays are over, this is the perfect time to have conversations with small businesses in our communities,” said Mary Anderson, small-business engagement director at USPS headquarters.

The kits, which are expected to be mailed around Feb. 10, include a guide for hosting a successful Grow Your Business Day event; a guide for showcasing USPS shipping and mailing services; and virtual and physical flyers and invitational postcards, among other helpful items.

Customer services supervisors will receive a postcard with instructions on how to order their own kit from the Material Distribution Center. The order number is SKU#21Q2BCKIT.

Postal property

The Postal Service is reminding employees that misusing USPS property violates the standards of ethical conduct for employees of the executive branch, which applies to postal employees.

Misuse occurs when employees use USPS property in an unintended and inappropriate manner.

Here are some examples:

• Postal-issued cellphones. Don’t use them to complete work for a second job or outside business.

Computers. Don’t visit inappropriate websites or save inappropriate photos or videos to your work computer.

USPS vehicles. Use them only for authorized purposes.

Postal travel cards. These should not be used to pay for nonqualifying personal expenses.

Voyager cards. Don’t use them to pay for snacks or drinks or for fuel for a personal vehicle.

Inappropriate use of Voyager cards is the most common of misuse of postal property.

The Postal Service conducts regular and thorough audits of charges expensed to Voyager cards. Voyager card misuse is regularly caught internally and by the USPS Office of Inspector General.

The Postal Service regularly compares gas usage and data from each postal route. Employees using a postal vehicle to deviate from a route for personal reasons will be detected.

Misusing other postal property, such as ID badges and Arrow keys, threatens the security of the Postal Service.

Misusing postal property can lead to dismissal, fines and garnishment of wages to repay any amount of money that was stolen.

Awkward positions

If your body aches after a day at the office or in a plant, you need to become familiar with ergonomics.

Ergonomics refers to the study of workers, their jobs and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which result from jobs that involve repetitive motion or sitting for long periods. MSDs can result in hand, wrist or neck strain that sometimes can become debilitating

To help mark Ergonomics Awareness Month in February, the Postal Service’s Safety team is sharing tips to help employees avoid MSDs by making slight adjustments to how jobs are performed.

For example, employees who sit at a desk and input information on computers, should:

• Keep the computer monitor no higher than eye level;
• Turn the monitor away from bright lights to reduce eye strain;
• Place the computer keyboard directly in front of the monitor;
• Sit up straight to reduce back strain;
• Keep arms supported; and
• Get up, stretch and walk around regularly.

Employees who work in plants should always:

• Work carefully and deliberately;
• Exercise care when doing any lifting;
• Use tools such as reach and pull poles when necessary;
• Hold large packages at a mid-thigh or mid-chest height when lifting;
• Do stretch exercises to help reduce muscle injuries; and
• Take rest breaks.

The Safety Blue page has videos with additional ergonomics tips, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites have further information.