Day in and day out, they make their rounds and quietly go about their business, most of the time, unnoticed by just about everyone. But if they fail to make a scheduled stop or if they are off schedule just a bit, all of the sudden, they are some of America’s Most Wanted. Postal carriers. They sort, carry, pickup and deliver thousands of letters and packages each week, day in and day out. They know the streets of Brady and McCulloch County better than most old-timers. They can tell you where the dogs are friendly and where you might need your running shoes. During the holiday season at the local post office, the normal load of cards, letters and packages nearly doubles in volume. Instead of having enough work to keep them busy for the normal eight-hour shift, the 11 carriers and four clerks that man the Brady post office six days a week have nearly double the workload. “We start each morning at 7:45 sorting and casing our routes,” said Robert Medrano “Once we get our routes in order, we hit the streets.” The increase in business handled by the post office comes in all areas. From mailing packages to selling stamps, all facets of the postal system are busier at this time of the year. A national survey conducted on Dec. 11th estimated that day to be the busiest day for the postal service for the entire year. “We were definitely busy on that day,” said Brady Postmaster Garland Freeze. “A recent report from our Abilene distribution center said that our parcel distribution is up 225 percent this month over last month.” This week has been following the trend of keeping the postal workers busier that normal. A report submitted Monday showed that on that day alone, Brady’s volume was 115 percent up from the same day last year. Another sign of the increase in the amount of postal volume is that according to Mr. Freeze, the region has not even received any mail from the southeastern part of the United States due to the inclement weather in that area. “We were budgeted this year to have 2.6 million in-office pieces,” said Freeze. “In addition to that, the total volume of the carriers is estimated to reach 19.8 million letters.” Of that total number of letters that will funnel through the tiny Brady office, a total of 15 pairs of hands will handle all of the letters and packages. One benefit that is helping out the local carriers is the advancements in technology used in sorting and presorting mail. At the regional distribution center in Abilene, optical code readers are used to sort mail into routes that are set up for each individual city in the central Texas region. A reader uses a camera to read addresses and input them into a reader which in turn routes them to the appropriate route in the appropriate sequence. “There is more machined mail coming in each and every day,” said Freeze. “That really helps in sorting the mail each morning. The more machined mail, the less the carriers have to sort. The rest of the mail that the machines don’t read is still sorted and cased by hand.” “What a lot of people don’t know is that the entire U.S. postal system is run strictly by the revenues generated by postage. We are not subsidized by the government in any way,” he continued. “So each stamp goes to help offset the overhead costs for the entire system.” Once the mail is sorted into each respective route, the carriers perform vehicle inspections, load their day’s work and head out to deliver their goods. Each day the routes are the same. The carriers vary every once in a while when someone takes a vacation or needs a day off, but no matter the weather or the situation, if it is not a holiday or a Sunday, the mail will run. “Some people might be surprised at how difficult this job really is,” said Chris Click, a letter carrier for Brady. “This is not as easy as people think. There is a lot of memorization and a lot of details that change on a weekly basis that we have to remember. I get anywhere from three to five changes of address each week that I need to keep track of. There are a lot of people sending and receiving a lot of important things through the mail, and they don’t like it when things are delayed or sent to the wrong address. “One thing some may not understand is that the day we receive a letter or package from our distribution center, it goes out that same day.” Delivering the mail gives carriers a chance to meet and greet people each and every day. One of the most common responses when delivering the mail is “We don’t want the bills’send them back!” “Most people are really enjoyable to talk to,” said Angelina Bonetti, Brady’s newest carrier. “It’s the dogs that you really have to watch out for. “I really like being a carrier at this time of year. It is kind of like being Santa Claus. People love to get cards and letters.” So the next time you head for the mailbox or see a mail carrier hustling through his or her route, remember’ someone has got to take care of those letters and packages to make sure they get there on time. Do your carrier a favor and send them something that will make their day a little brighter’a smile.