New Brunswick — Canada Post’s recent reduction in rural mailboxes has made life meaningless for many Canadian snowplow operators. A new University of New Brunswick study draws a strong connection between overall job satisfaction and “smashing mailboxes to smithereens.”
Economics professor Carol Buggsbey’s study looked at Canadian snowplow operators and analyzed job satisfaction in areas where rural mailboxes had been removed. The results were dramatic: “What we saw was increased depression and decreased job engagement in areas where mailboxes were removed,” she said. “As to the cause, it became clear the operators were really getting a lot of joy out of pulverizing mailboxes.”
National Snowplow Union president Wanda Bashemall offered some explanation. “Most of these guys transitioned into the job from a disillusioned youth. They found purpose with the position,” she said. “As teens, many of our members spent some time leaning out the window of a Hyundai Accent, baseball bat in-hand, taking swings at neighbours’ boxes. For many, it’s a natural transition to a 500-horsepower Freightliner with a 5 Ton Louisville Slugger welded to the side.”
Twenty-five-year plow veteran Paul Verize said that his job is a lot like popping bubble wrap, as far as satisfaction goes. “Yes, there are the simple joys: scaring oncoming motorists, filling in a single mom’s driveway as she’s about to leave for work. This is rewarding, but there’s nothing compared to the joy of metal-to-metal contact and watching that crumpled box heading for the tree line. Gotta say, there’s nothing like it.
“I’ll find myself driving by the home of a senior that you know is struggling with bills,” Verize continued, a faraway look in his eyes. “I can lower the wing and launch that mailbox into the weeds. Mailbox full of bills? Gone. That kind of satisfaction is hard to find these days. I’ve had people approach me and say, ‘Paul, you threw my bills in the ditch.’ These people had tears in their eyes — that means a lot.”