Through Rain, Sleet, and Snow, Our Mailman Is a Foot Soldier in Washington’s Battle Against Corruption

Only two people faithfully come through our Washington, D.C., neighborhood—the person who delivers the Washington Post every morning, and the man who delivers the mail every day but Sunday.

The newspaper is tossed on the front lawn from a speeding SUV driven by people I’ve never met or talked with. That doesn’t stop the Post from including holiday envelopes with December papers suggesting that maybe we’d like to tip the carrier—the word carrier evoking the time when neighborhood kids walked the street and put the paper by the front door.

The mailman—we have the same one most days—walks up on the front porch every afternoon to put the mail through a slot in the door. I see him once or twice a week in the late afternoon when I’m walking our Golden Retriever to a nearby park and he’s walking the street to deliver mail. The dog likes the mailman and the mailman pats Cruiser on the head, sometimes giving him a treat, and we exchange greetings.

I suggested to my wife that the person who really deserved a holiday tip was the mailman—he delivers in all kinds of weather and seems a great guy. Maybe $50?

She said she’d heard that it was against the law to tip mail carriers. After some research, she cited this:

Employee Tipping and Gift-Receiving Policy

All postal employees, including carriers, must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Exec­utive Branch. Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion, such as Christmas. However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount. Furthermore, no employee may accept more than $50 worth of gifts from any one customer in any one calendar year period.

Washington being Washington, the owner of our neighborhood’s biggest, most expensive house, with the longest steps for our can’t-be-influenced-with-money mailman to climb, is a partner in a DC lobbying firm.


  1. So gifts of liquor are okay but cash isn’t? That’s crazy. Mailmen deserve better!

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