Incidentally, I also asked the USPS spokesman to comment on a letter from another reader.

This one concerned two mail trucks that are parked with some frequency at an intersection in a residential area while the drivers get together for long conferences in one of the trucks. Sometimes they're parked at that corner for a half to an hour.

"Are they engaged in some kind of postal business," my correspondent wondered, "or are these just social occasions?"

The USPS spokesman took about an hour to investigate, then called me back. "It appears," he said, "that these are just social visits. They have no Postal Service business that would require them to confer in this manner. Tell your reader we appreciate being informed about this, because it gives us a chance to correct the situation.

"We had a somewhat similar report from the public a while back. A citizen had on several occasions seen a Postal Service employee in a hardware store for extended periods of time, then had seen the man carry packages out of the store and put them into his jeep.

"When we looked into it, we found that the fellow had been shopping for a lot of hardware items on company time, which is contrary to regulations. Once we found out what he was doing, we were able to straighten him out. Most of our people are good workers, but in any large work force there will always be a few who try to cut corners, and that's why we welcome calls from people who think they have observed misconduct."

Where should one call with such reports? "Call one of your local postal inspectors. They'll get on your complaint promptly."