What Does It Take: Second-generation mail carrier delivers over 2,000 letters daily

Dawn Sylvester has worked for U.S. Postal Service for 19 years

By Melodi Smith - Multimedia Journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - In the era where electronic communications are the norm, the employees of the United States Postal Service are still delivering hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail a day to your home, apartment complex, business or job.

For this month’s installment of "What Does It Take," we went to the Alafaya Post Office to follow a mail carrier to get an idea of what it takes to deliver those packages and letters to you each day.


Dawn Sylvester is a 19-year veteran with the United States Postal Service. She has worked for the Alafaya branch for 13 years.

For Dawn, the decision to start working for the post office was in part was a mix of employee benefits and her father, who worked for the department, too.

“Well you know I was a little bit younger and the post office has always been a great opportunity for anybody great retirement, benefits, good job,” Sylvester told News 6.


Sylvester said that many people who are employed by the postal service also have a relative who works for the department.

We took a visit to the Alafaya Post Office and watched Dawn in action and observed part of her morning routine, before she went out on the road in Lake UnderHill.

The day for her starts with clocking in and then a stand-up talk—keeping the carriers informed about safety goals, or any important information that the group should be aware of before they start the day and then a vehicle check—ensuring the vehicles are in good shape before they go on the road.


“It’s very important that we do that because we are responsible for those vehicles every single day. When I pull out of this parking lot it’s my vehicle for the day, and it has to come back in the same shape as it left in,” Sylvester said.

“Then we finish and then at this time most mail is already up whether the posts are done, all mail has been pitched, they usually call last call. That means that whatever is over there is it, were done, we are supposed to do what we call tie down. And somewhere in this process I left out that our supervisor will come by and give us our numbers, and when I say our numbers, he will tell us how many flats we have for the day, and how many letters we have for the day.”


Sylvester delivered 257 flats and 2,500 letters the day that we spoke along her 12-mile route starting at the Alafaya Post Office. Her route is typically between 6 and 8 hours.


The average amount of letters she delivers is between 2,200 and 2,500.

With over 2,700 pieces of mail delivered a day, being organized is tantamount to make sure everything is delivered on time.

“To me that is one of the most important things about being a load carrier, you have to be efficient and quick, but you have to be organized. And that is one of the things that as I used to be an on the job trainer that I express to the new trainees," she said.

“Speed will come in time, but if you don’t start organized, you’re just going to be a mess and I believe that having a routine is very important, too.”

But has speed and organization come in time, a good lesson for being organized came from experience she shared with us.


“When I first started out years ago, they sent me out for like one of the first times to go deliver mail and it's all the way down by UCF, and that’s when we had old Jeeps, and I did all my mail and I was so excited and I was so proud of myself and then I got all the way back, I unloaded my stuff and there was my tray of letters. So, I had to drive all the way back, so now I have a regimen, I do my flats, I do my letters, and I do my parcels. And I do it the same way all day long, so that way something like that doesn’t happen. Because, if somebody starts talking to you and you lose track of what you’re doing, it's an easy way to get back on track,” she told us.

Organization is key, but so is making sure that you have a complete address on each piece of mail that you send out.

“Your apartment number and your suite number is an official part of your address. It’s just as important as the building number, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you have the right ZIP code, because then we can at least get it going in the right area.”

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