1. They quickly learn about your hobbies.
As soon as you move in, your mail carriers start learning about you. Get a new guitar magazine? They know that you’re interested in music (duh). Buy a new table saw? They’ll know that you’re fairly handy.
They’ll quickly see patterns, whether or not they’re looking for them. Sometimes, this can work to your benefit; mail carriers are less likely to make errors when they associate certain types of mail with certain customers.
2. They know about those “sensitive” purchases.
Discreet shipping is great for keeping neighbors away from your, ahem, private purchases, but postal workers know what’s in the box.
How? In some cases, the address. Mail workers quickly memorize some of the most common providers of what we’ll call “romantic aids,” not to mention alcohol distributors, etc. They tend to share this information with their coworkers, although reputable postal workers certainly won’t divulge personal information about their route.
These days, most of a mail carrier’s bag is filled with bills and junk mail. Like you, they ignore the junk, but they do see the bills—especially when those bills are past due. Postal workers will often see a home fall into difficult financial times; the number of “past due” notices gradually climbs, sometimes followed by foreclosure or eviction notices.
4. They have a vague idea of whether you’ve got decent credit.
People with good credit tend to receive certain offers from creditors, and those offers pass through the mail. They tend to go out in “waves,” so postal workers will note whether people on their route are receiving those types of letters.
5. They know your age.
When you turn 18, you’ll receive dozens of credit card offers, so postal workers recognize this milestone. They also see birthday cards, college bills, AARP letters, Medicare notifications, and other types of mail that clearly indicate the age of the recipient.
Some mail workers say that they can also figure out a person’s age from the amount of handwritten mail they send and receive; older people still tend to prefer the written word over email and instant messaging.
6. They know when you’re out of town.
Even though you clearly told your friend to stop by every morning to get your mail for you, he’ll forget, and the postal worker will notice.
Mail carriers will also note the length of your grass, if you live in a house, or the presence of your vehicles. If you leave town for a while, they’ll certainly figure it out (even if it doesn’t technically affect their job).
7. They know when you’re up to illegal activity.
Every mail service occasionally delivers drugs, and as you might expect, there are a few controls in place to prevent this from happening too often. Even so, postal workers quickly learn to identify packages with drugs, and in many instances, they don’t do anything about it.
One postal worker on Reddit explained that weight plays a big role; packages that weigh more than three ounces are often rerouted to the Postal Inspection services, while smaller packages are simply sent on their way. Hey, they’ve got lots of work to do, and they’re not the D.E.A.
8. They know whether or not you’re tidy.
Yes, unfortunately, your postal worker is judging you; if your house needs a coat of paint or if your yard is unkempt, they’ll make a note of it. However, they’re most concerned about the state of your actual mailbox—if you don’t clean it out occasionally, it becomes a nest for insects, spiders, and even birds.
9. They know when you break up with your partner.
Your regular mail carrier will, of course, notice when a certain occupant stops receiving mail.
Even if you’re not living with your partner when you break up, however, they have ways to tell. They’ll realize that a certain vehicle isn’t parked outside your house anymore, or they’ll notice a big change in your schedule. Of course, if you answer the door in a bathrobe with tears streaming down your face and a bottle of a special something in your hand, that’s another hint that something’s not right.
10. They know all about your pets.
Mail carriers know your pets better than you. Cats always come to the window when the mail carrier comes by, and dogs—well, even the little ones make a ton of noise.
And it’s not just a stereotype: Dog attacks are actually a major problem for postal workers. More than 6,500 postal workers reported attacks in 2015, so if you want to gain your mail carrier’s trust, make sure that your door is firmly locked around delivery time; never trust a screen door.
11. They probably know what you do for a living.
Even if you receive your paychecks through direct deposit or you work at home, your postal worker can probably make an educated guess as to your occupation.
Retirement accounts, company newsletters, and your hobbies provide clues; they can also see what type of car you’re driving to estimate your income. These are just clues, of course, but veteran postal workers know how to create an accurate profile of their customers’ careers.
12. They know about your schedule.
This one’s pretty self explanatory; mail carriers quickly learn who’s home all day, who leaves in the morning, and who’s trying to sleep in the late afternoon. While they only deliver to your house once, they’ll often pass by several times per day, and they see the little differences on their second and third times around.
This isn’t to say that they care, of course, but they can’t help but notice.
13. They know when something big changes in your life.
Moving? You’ll probably receive plenty of mail from your new mortgage company before you actually pull the trigger. Getting married? You’ll be getting plenty of wedding-related planning documents. Lose a loved one? You’ll be sending more mail while getting their affairs in order.
Mail works are human, and they can’t help but notice these things.
14. They know about your medical issues.
Of course, they’ll try to be sensitive and avoid intruding into your life, but if you have medical supplies delivered to your house, your mail carrier sees them. Likewise, they see bills from your physicians and insurance company.
By the way, if you have a medical issue that makes it difficult to get to your mailbox, be sure to tell your carrier. They’ll often make an effort to accommodate you (provided that you’re a pleasant customer, of course).
15. They know when you break the law.
You’ll receive citations in the mail, and your mail carrier knows what those citations look like. You might also receive bills from attorneys, which are fairly difficult to misinterpret.
16. They know if you appreciate their work, and they’re certainly thankful.
Mail carriers can learn a tremendous amount from what you send and receive, but for the most part, they don’t make judgments. The job has a way of opening up the world; you realize that everyone goes through the same major experiences, and it’s mind-blowing to realize that those experiences can be pretty clearly conveyed through something as small as your daily mail delivery.
That’s why it’s especially important to be kind to your mail carrier. They’re constantly rushing, and their jobs are a source of stress; by making an effort to be kind to them, you can make a big difference. That might mean leaving a bag of snacks during the holidays or cool water in the hot summer. It might simply mean waving when you see them. Just be sure to do something—your mail carrier will appreciate the effort.