Here is what happened in small sorts this week. In a nutsell, a bag of letters was being scanned into a bag under the wrong destination tag. A small misunderstanding on reading destination codes caused me to accidentally send a bag of CitiBank collection letters to a neighboring hub in the northwest region causing 66 service failures. Many may not realize how just a simple understanding of numbers can cause such headache. For example, reading destination codes 08071 and 80712 would have the same meaning as 8071x . In mathematics, the number 08871 and 8871 are the same value. In a simple algebraic equation, 08871/8871 = 1 . And, 8871/08871 = 1 . The final interpretation was 08071 and 8071x would go to the same hub! OOPS! ! ! Keep in mind that this occurrence involved one bag, not multiple bags. Now I am expecting a warning letter after being moved out of small sorts. The plan foreperson, told me that it was time to go to my new home. Already knowing what the address was, I knew exactly where to go. First I would like to commend the supervisor who runs the small sorts operation as being both professional and reasonable. Both the current and previous supervisor does a good job and has far more patience in dealing with the "unique personalities" associated with that department. Here are several problems I've observed while working in small sorts. 1. When such mistakes do happen, such does not get communicated down the line to prevent a future recurrence. Since I was deported to another area, another scanner can easily end up making the same mistake. I'm simply not there to warn others of this potential for mistakes. In this hub, it is common practice to move those who have several misload occurrences to another area in the building. 2. The biggest producers are the ones who got moved due to misloads. The simple law of mathematics applies, the more packages the more possible occurrences. This leaves the far more cautious scanners behind. While this cuts down on misloads, this also creates the potential of massive service failures due to mail not making it way out of the building on time. For example, you normally have 20,000 packages. Removing 3 people who normally scan a combined total of 5,000 pieces reduces your total capacity by 25%. This in turn ties up the whole operation from smalls to the outbound belt. 3. Excessive call outs/attendance problems leaves work stations vacated. This is really a large problem as scanners often must be moved around often to fill vacated work stations. One thing I discovered is that each area has its idiosyncrasies. Best to have a person who is familiar with all the kinks. 4. Bad work attitude and excessive gossiping wrecks more havoc than any of the above. When working the area, I heard constant complaints about filing grievances, having to work split shifts, bad mouthing, picking fights, and work slow downs. This leaves a select group of scanners who must pick up the slack. I'll admit that 90% of my misload problems was due to going at high speeds and taking a few risks hear and there. Here are a few things I believe will result in major operations improvements and perhaps reduce misloads: 1. Have color coded RTS labels or have packages that are "return to sender" stamped "RTS" next to the bar code. 2. When a person causes a misload, take into consideration past production counts, did the employee realize how occurrence happened and present a game plan on preventing in future. 3. Amount of refunds issued to customers. Most misloads do not ultimately result client requesting refund. 4. Have an attendance scorecard. Employees must be accountable to missing work, excessive tardies, etc... Those who miss more than 3 days in a 6 month period should be spoken to about attendance. Those who are chronically late (over 5 min) on a frequent bases should also be held accountable. 5. Have all equipment in good working order. Packages have been known to fall out of bins with broken hinges; this could certainly cause a misload. 6. Chronic complainers should be counseled with supervisor and shop steward as to why they still want to work for UPS. One lady who worked for the company for 18 years kept fussing at me about not getting enough air from the fans and being too hot!! 18 years in the Big Brown oven and complained about be too hot!!! Try telling this to the shop steward who presents a "shot gun theory" to many things in life. Well, I could go on and write a book and make a movie, but don't want to be late to the big brown machine. Perhaps, a TV show script can be written based on all the gossip from small sorts. Such TV show would fit very nicely between the D Rated cable gossipzine and AM infomercial which is about to begin as I head off to the Brown Machine. Have a great day.