Talking With the Star of Mail-Carrier TikTok About Saving the USPS
Americans are doing amazing things to save the Postal Service, from buying stamps to making fancams to drawing erotic Transformers art. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee, has suspended further changes until after the 2020 election in November, but unnerving reports of dismantled mail sorters and the elimination of mailboxes have prompted widespread outrage as the delivery of life-saving medications are delayed and mail-in voting is jeopardized. Meanwhile, the Post Office is still woefully underfunded and awaiting a vote on $25 billion in potential aid. But none of this drama has impacted Chad Wallace’s TikTok.
A St. Louis, Missouri mail carrier for the past 13 years, Wallace joined TikTok back in January. While he has just a little over 9,500 followers, it’s a dedicated fanbase who cheers him on as he delivers the mail during rain or shine (there’s a lot of rain) and even draws pictures of him in his signature rain cape, which is what first caught my eye when his most popular video showed up on my For You page.
“Now you’re on mail carrier TikTok,” he wrote on a video of himself dancing and twirling in his cape. “No, I don’t have your check.”
His videos are gaining popularity during a time when the USPS has earned a cult of fans desperate to give the essential workers their due after the cuts brought to light just how much the vital service needs our support. Wallace says that a group of college students recently stopped their car to thank him for doing his job, and the comments on his TikTok videos are full of praise.
“I stan you guys so hard thank you for all you do!!” one viewer wrote.
Wallace, who did stand-up comedy before the pandemic, approaches everything from dogs in his customers’ yards to the exhaustion of a 12-hour work day with the same infectious humor. We spoke about what it’s like to be a USPS worker on TikTok when all of Gen Z has started worshipping the service, and, of course, the most important issue: saving the USPS.
What made you decide to join TikTok?
I found out my daughter had Instagram and I noticed a video that didn't use the Instagram format and I saw it was TikTok. So I basically got on TikTok to spy on my daughter. I think she [knows] ‘cause she hasn't posted in months.
Do you follow any other mail carriers on TikTok?
I follow a few, but not many really post while on the job. That's kind of taboo-ish.
What kind of videos do you like to watch on TikTok?
I'll watch the dance challenges, but mostly the little comedy memes. I like to see how different people use different memes to come to different punchlines.
Do your coworkers know you’re on TikTok?
A couple of them. Not the majority, but it wouldn't surprise them just ‘cause a lot of them know I do stand up.
How do you get ideas for videos?
Basically the same as everyone else. I'll see a popular trend and if it's not too complicated [I’ll jump on it]—‘cause I'm not great at the editing part and the transitions. If it takes longer than five to 10 minutes for me to edit and I get frustrated, it's going to be in the drafts forever.
What kind of comments do you get?
98% has been support. The one with the poncho was—I didn't know that was stylish! When people retire, they leave their uniforms at the station. I just grabbed it out of the pile because I liked the cape better than wearing straight rain gear. And I use it to scare cats.
What do you think of the recent attention the USPS has gotten, with people making memes and fan videos?
Any appreciation, it feels great. I just feel like the Postal Service is one of those utilities that people don't realize how vital it is until it's threatened to be taken away. We wear more than just our postal hats because we borderline patrol neighborhoods every day. We know if Old Man Johnson's mail piled up for two or three days, if that's unusual, and knock on the door or contact the family member. We'll see smoke coming from the top of the house and we'll be the one to contact the fire department.
I had a customer, she's been quarantined because her husband is immunocompromised. So yesterday was the first time seeing her in a while on the porch, and she just started talking. I could just feel that she needed somebody to talk to and reach out. So I spent a couple of minutes talking to her, asking if her and her husband are okay. We serve a lot of different purposes other than just dropping off bills.
In your opinion, what’s the best way someone can support the Post Office right now?
What I've been seeing is people rushing to buy stamps, envelopes and all that. Revenue can help, but it's almost like if you're a parent and your household isn't financially stable, you can get that parent a hundred thousand dollars. But if they're not good financially, they'll find a way to mess it up. So even though revenue is good, I think public understanding would be better. I would like people to be patient with their carrier. [If there’s an issue with your mail], contact your post office to find out what's going on. Once management knows that these tactics aren't working, then they'll hopefully speak to their bosses and it'll go [up] the chain of command and they can figure out a way to both make the customer happy and keep us gainfully employed.
I tell my customers, “My job is to get you the stuff that you paid for.” And whether it's six in the evening or nine at night out, I'll be the guy with the little train conductor light on his helmet. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...with your packages. Here you go."