SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat, nor terrible penmanship nor perfect cursive will keep the postal service from delivering your mail.
At least that's the goal of the USPS Encoding Center in Salt Lake City.
So we are like the last line of defense in getting mail processed for the Postal Service," said Danielle Bousha, an HR generalist at the center. "It's the one and only encoding center in the U.S., with more than 800 employees who work 24 hours a day deciphering sloppy or incomplete addresses."
If you walk into the massive work area, you won't hear a peep.
Workers, actually called keyers, inspect images of letters or parcels on their computer screens.
"We process mail here that can't be processed by machines at the plant," Bousha said – and they do it at lightning speed.
"Our keyers key about a thousand images an hour, so they're spending about 2 seconds on an image,"she added. "The human eyes in the center scan about t3.5 million images a day."
The Postal Service machines do a good job at getting mail to where it's supposed to go. But about 2% of mail, parcels and change-of-address cards end up at the Utah encoding facility.
The Salt Lake City facility, built in 1994, is the first – and last – encoding center in the country.
Many others sprang up around the country through the years, but better technology eliminated all of them except for the one in Utah's capital city.
Newly-hired keyers go through 55 hours of training before they start the job, and it comes with a crash course on a form of writing that hasn't been taught in schools for more than a decade.
"It can be hard, especially when you first start," Bousha explained. "A lot of them are not used to reading cursive and interpreting what they see. But after 70 hours a week it becomes like second nature."
"You don't have to think about it anymore," she added.
The United States Postal Service is looking to hire 250 more keyers. For information, visit the USPS careers website.