Stevie Wonder, Guy Lombardo and Giuseppe Verdi will no longer be accompanying your mail man (or woman) on his appointed rounds, or entertaining clerks at the offices as they sell stamps and process mail.
Any postal worker who has ever rocked around the block or gone for baroque on the job has been advised to clear his ears and listen to the sounds of nature, the supervisor and/or traffic.
Effective immediately the U.S. Postal Service has banned "Walkman devices, self-contained radio headphones, or ear plugs or similar devices that introduce sound directly into" the 1.3 million ears represented among its work force.
Postal officials say that in-your-ear devices, entertaining as they can be, are just too dangerous. The feeling is that musical or radio chatter can distract workers, that earphone wires can get caught in machinery and employes can be deafened to things they should hear, such as alarms, advice from the boss or customer queries.
A partial exemption from the earplug ban has been granted to clerks assigned to work at Multiple Position Letter Sorting Machines. Those machines make distracting sounds of their own as they read, sort and process letters by zip code at the rate of 60 per minute. Folks assigned to them will be allowed to continue to use earphones and get music, of a sort. The catch is that it must be music supplied by or certified as soothing by the government.
(Asked about Uncle Sam's musical tastes, an employe at the Merrifield, Va., facility said "It's elevator music, ugggh!").
Postal officials say they are not trying to stuff lyrical pablum in the ears of their workers, but rather are trying to make sure that they are safe on the job and tuned in to their work.