Like father, like son

When Gary Thompson hung up his satchel last week, it marked the end of an era.

His rural route in the village of Savona, NY, has been carried by a Thompson for 75 years. His late father, Warren, began his postal career on his return from World War II, and Gary took over after his dad retired nearly four decades later.

It was not in the younger Thompson’s plans to follow in his father’s tire tracks, however.

“They were having a tough time getting a substitute carrier for my dad’s route,” Thompson said. Then-Postmaster Dorothy White “drove right out to the farm and kept asking me to give it a try.

“She said it would only be one day a week, but now here we are, 37 years later.”

The Thompson family runs a farm in rural New York state and, like his father, Gary works two shifts — one for the Post Office and one at the farm.

While that sounds like a long day, Thompson said there were perks to the setup. “I got to deliver to a bunch of other farmers, and we got to talk a little shop and see how everyone is doing,” he said with a laugh.

“It’s been an awful good job.”

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Simple solutions

You’re about to use your ACE computer to begin working when programs in Office 365 inexplicably freeze.

This usually occurs when the programs start to load before they have a network connection.

Before you call the IT Service Desk, there’s a faster solution:

Turn off your startup applications.

To do this, type “startup” in the search field on the task bar and click enter. A screen will list the applications that launch by default when the computer starts up; each application displays a switch to enable or disable.

For example, you can turn off Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Teams so they don’t try to launch automatically during start-up.

Once you’re connected to the network, you can use the programs, which can be found by selecting the Windows icon on the task bar and scrolling down the “most used” list.

This is one of several fixes that the Postal Service wants employees to use to reduce calls to the IT Service Desk.

“Often, you can resolve issues yourself without having to wait for the Service Desk to assist you,” said Barry Gobble, the USPS office workplace modernization program manager.

Another effective method: Use the IT Self-Help/ServiceNow page on Blue to resolve basic computing issues on your own.

The top seven issues that employees call the IT Service Desk about are listed in a drop-down banner at the top of the page, along with instructions on how to resolve them.

USPS encourages employees to first explore these do-it-yourself solutions before calling the Service Desk.

Employees are also advised to always keep their laptops and desktops powered on and connected to the organization’s network in order to receive software upgrades.

In the mail

The Postal Service is mailing employees a postcard with information to help them learn more about the organization’s new 10-year plan.

The plan, called Delivering for America, aims to modernize the organization while increasing its role and relevance. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced the key components March 23.

The postcard has a QR code that employees can scan to go to a website where they can download the plan, watch a video announcement and read FAQs.

The postcard should arrive at most employees’ address of record before April 13.

Coping mechanisms

April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to learn about how stress affects our health.

Everyone experiences some level of stress, which refers to how the body and brain respond to demands and challenges.

For instance, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to stress about their health, as well as the health of family and friends, which can affect eating or sleeping patterns and the ability to concentrate.

Left unchecked, prolonged stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and other long-term health problems.

The National Institutes of Health offers the following tips for coping with stress:

• Exercise regularly. Walking can improve your mood and health.

• Try relaxing activities, such as meditation, music or reading.

• Stay connected with family and friends. Set aside leisure time.

• Set goals and priorities and be aware when you are taking on too much.

Employees who feel stressed should seek assistance from a health care professional or the USPS Employee Assistance Program, a free, voluntary and confidential service to help postal workers overcome challenges affecting their physical and mental health, family life and job performance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and USPS Wellness LiteBlue page have additional information.