Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lee

Before I worked for the Marietta Post Office I was a Data Technician at the Atlanta Post Office for about 14 or 15 years.

Our department had worked 24/7 and had 37 people in it. Our job was to see that the 8,000 Atlanta Postal employees were paid correctly. We did this by computerized manipulation before there were personal computers. We used what we called transactors and plastic hole punched cards that each card represented an employee. We would put the Holarath coded card into a card reader of the transactor and make whatever adjustments or data entries that needed to be made by changing digital dials.

We had reason to be out on the work room floor many times to talk to supervisors and employees. We knew a good portion of the mail distribution clerks on all three shifts because that who we saw the most.

In the central office we worked at also was the main place for semi-automatic mail sorting by the LSM clerks running the LSM machine.

The LSM machine was a huge long machine that had on one side 12 seats with a console at each seat. The LSM clerk would sit in the chair and by air suction at the end of a mechanic arm, quickly place a letter in front of the clerk and he would glance at the letter and key in where that letter would go. It is according to what section he is working in as to what would be keyed. If it just came in the door the LSM machine would be set up for states. The next machine would be Georgia. The next metro Atlanta,, and the next Atlanta, to one of the 50 plus stations. A LSM clerk had to key a minimum of 100 pieces of mail per minute. That is more than 1 and 1/3 per second.

I think now the LSM machines are antiques. Now, only very few LSM machines are around. Most of the mail are read and sorted by opt scanning, most of it is untouched by human hands now. Only the hard to read mail gets human attention.

We never got to know to know often the quiet regular employee who would report to work, never late or never call in. Only the ones that we had to adjust his time is who we dealt with and got to know, plus the ones that marched to their own drummer – we got to know them too.

One marcher-to-his-own-drums was a hyper guy named Lee. Lee, they said, was a genius and had several degrees in something that had any no money earning power at all – something like the mathematical theory of genetics as to defining what a person is going to be in life, based on his genetic make up. He was a PHD in his field.

Doctor Lee had his own drummer.

He was tall with not an ounce of fat on him. He was young looking with a crew cut. I think he had a crew cut because it reflected less care. He constantly clapped his hands as if he was flushing his highly energized flashes away. If you tried communicating with him about the only response you would get is: I’m fine thank you or Yes or No, I don’t know. Nothing substantial like you really talked to the guy. He always wore baggy pants and a white shirt. He never smiled.

He worked through his breaks, including his lunch break. When it was time to get off, he would almost hurriedly past by his co-workers clapping his hands, to slap away that energy that was building up constantly.

Lee talked to himself. If you walk by him you would hear him constantly talking to himself as he keyed the mail zipping past him.

To make things a bit more interesting, he not only talked to himself, but he talked to THEMSELVES. He had a several people living in his brain. We listened to him enough and put our information together to come up with conclusion that he had his own voice, a very masculine deep voiced guy, a woman that was very temperamental, and a kid. When Lee Masculine would have a fierce argument with Lee Feminine another voice, of a child would start singing very loudly to drown out the other two voices arguing.

One night a new employee was assigned to work next to him and after about four or five hours of the four voices playing tricks on one another, singing, fussing, arguing, the girl went home sick, she couldn’t take it anymore. She asked for a transfer to another group to get away from what she thought was a mad man.

I was watching Monk on TV tonight and I thought of Lee. I haven’t seen him since the mid-80s since I transferred from Atlanta…. But I bet he still walks full speed, clap his hands and has at least four voices in his head trying to be heard.

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4 Comments:

Blogger kenju said...

Well, he might be in the funny farm now, Eddie.....LOL

6:34 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Sounds like what used to be called an "idiot savant." He sounds like one of those math types that has a head for numbers and little else.

1:49 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Judy and Steve,
Being a genius is of no use if the genius has no other skills like communicating.

3:03 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

"Being a genius is of no use if the genius has no other skills like communicating."

An excellent point indeed.

9:04 PM  

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