Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Mail Carrier

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Use the occupation thesaurus to find the prefect jobs for your cast of characters

Occupation: Mail Carrier

Overview: Mail carriers transport mail (letters, circulars, small packages, bills, etc.) from a distribution center to homes and businesses. While most of them use vehicles, urban mail carriers often walk their routes.

Necessary Training: Mail carriers need a high school diploma or equivalent and must pass a written exam. They also must have a driver license, have a good driving record, and be able to pass a criminal background check.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, exceptional memory, predicting the weather, swift-footedness

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Alert, courteous, disciplined, discreet, efficient, focused, honest, independent, introverted, meticulous, organized, patient, professional, responsible

Sources of Friction: One’s truck breaking down, being threatened while delivering mail in a dangerous part of town, customers not receiving their mail (because it was stolen or was delivered to the wrong address), customers issuing complaints about one’s service, working in miserable weather, hand-delivering mail to someone one suspects of being unhinged, labor strikes, feeling pressured to join a union, being injured on the job (slipping on ice and falling, being bitten by a dog, etc.), suffering an injury that makes it difficult to do the job, working long hours (especially in the beginning of one’s career), mistakes at the distribution center that result in mail being delivered to the wrong address, increased business over the holidays and not enough employees to handle it, having to train a new employee who is incompetent or annoying, craving interactions with others but mostly working alone, dealing with negative customers, unfeeling or insensitivity supervisors, problems at the distribution center that make one late for one’s route, handling a suspicious package

People They Might Interact With: Other mail carriers, a manager or supervisor, other postal service employees, union representatives, customers, drivers and pedestrians along the route

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: There’s only so much possibility for advancement in this position; someone who is looking for upward mobility within their career may soon feel like they’re stuck and aren’t able to realize their full potential.
  • Esteem and Recognition: Many people view college degrees and the careers that come with them as being more important, valuable, or desirable than ones where a degree isn’t required. If a mail carrier has dealings with these people, he/she could quickly begin to feel badly about themselves or their job.
  • Love and Belonging: In the beginning, the hours are long; this can take a toll on personal relationships. And in many cases, a carrier is isolated, spending the majority of their day alone. This decreases the opportunities to meet and get to know people one might enter into relationship with.
  • Safety and Security: In certain situations, delivering the mail can be dangerous. This will depend on the neighborhood one works in, the kinds and heaviness of traffic one encounters, and the dangers inherent when one must exit their vehicle and knock on people’s doors.

Common Work-Related Settings: Alley, big city street, break room, country road, public restroom, small town street

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:  Mail carriers tend to be background characters: quiet, introverted, and invisible. But characters in this occupation can be anything you want them to be. Just look at Newman, from Seinfeld. Give your mail carrier an unusual trait or two to bring them to life.

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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3 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Mail Carrier

  1. Pingback: Bonus: The Ubiquitous Letter Carrier » Matryoschka Heritage Novels and Short Stories

  2. JOHN T. SHEA says:

    Thanks for this. The fictional mail carrier that springs to my mind is ‘The Postman’ in David Brin’s SF novel and the Kevin Costner movie version, a mail carrier who sparks the rebirth of civilization in the post-apocalypse.

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