Wash. Mail Carrier Seeks Right To Wear Kilt To Work

A Washington state mail carrier wants to see the strict dress code for the USPS to go pants-less casual. Dean Peterson, of the convention of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Boston, is on a mission to allow mailmen to wear kilts.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor lack of male unbifurcated garments stays these carriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds - okay, that's actually not the unofficial creed of the United States Postal Service.

The male unbifurcated garment, or kilt, currently has no place at the USPS, but if Dean Peterson gets his way, that'll change soon. We learned about his quest in The Boston Globe today. The mail carrier from Lacey, Washington is in Boston for the 66th Biennial Convention of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Mr. Peterson, thanks for being with us.

Mr. DEAN PETERSON (Letter Carrier): Glad to be here.

BLOCK: And tell me about your push for postal carriers to be allowed to wear kilts.

Mr. PETERSON: It all started when my wife took a trip to Scotland and she brought me back one of those tartan kilts. And I was 45 years old at the time and never worn a kilt and I ended up wearing a kilt to a picnic. And it was the most comfortable thing I ever wore. So I went ahead and started purchasing kilts and eventually got rid of all of my pants. And now, I have 15 kilts and no pants.

BLOCK: You wear nothing but kilts now?

Mr. PETERSON: Nothing but kilts, other than delivering the mail because it's not authorized yet.

Mr. PETERSON: So you're trying to get an actual change in the male carrier's dress code enacted at the convention?

Mr. PETERSON: Right. We've got five people here that are wearing prototype kilts. And currently, we have - we can only wear a pair of pants and slacks and then a pair of shorts. And I'm just getting it to where we get one more uniform option to wear.

BLOCK: Why the name male unbifurcated garments, why not just call it a kilt?

Mr. PETERSON: Well, when I initially started the resolution, I went on the Internet and I typed in kilt and it took me to male unbifurcated garments.

BLOCK: No kidding?

Mr. PETERSON: Yeah. So then I had to whip out the dictionary and find out exactly what unbifurcated garments mean, and it means no separation between the legs, basically.

BLOCK: That's - that'll do it.

Mr. PETERSON: Yeah.

BLOCK: You said you're wearing the prototype kilt right now. Can you describe it for us?

Mr. PETERSON: It's not like a - it's not exactly like tartan kilt from Scotland. It's kind of like an Americanized kilt. It's really hard to describe, but it's a kilt.

BLOCK: And what color is it?

Mr. PETERSON: They are postal blue.

BLOCK: Any decoration?

Mr. PETERSON: They have little buttons at the bottom so you can keep it from blowing up at high winds.

BLOCK: Well, that would be handy.

Mr. PETERSON: Yeah. And they have two front pockets that you can stick your hands in.

BLOCK: Well, what do you think, are you going to be going back to Lacey, Washington after the convention with a good feeling that your fellow carriers will be wearing kilts?

Mr. PETERSON: From the beginning, I was probably about - I thought I had a five percent chance of getting this resolution passed. But now, after talking to a lot of the delegates at the convention here, I'm hoping it's going to be right around 50-50 vote here.

BLOCK: And all you need is just a…

Mr. PETERSON: Just a - yeah…

BLOCK: …a bit over 50 percent?

Mr. PETERSON: Right. Then the NALC, the National Association of Letter Carriers, would send that to the USPS for further review, and then they're going to - they would add their two cents to it.

BLOCK: Oh, that could be the killer right there.

Mr. PETERSON: Yeah, that could be - because they might say that they don't recommend wearing it for safety reasons or something like that. But I don't improve my chances of getting bit by a dog if I'm wearing a kilt.

BLOCK: Oh, dog - they're worried about dog bites.

Mr. PETERSON: Well, that and, you know, falling on the ground and maybe exposing something. But, I mean, I'm wearing something just like a - underneath the kilt just like a female would.

BLOCK: We hope so.

Mr. PETERSON: Yeah.

BLOCK: Well, Mr. Peterson, good luck to you. Thanks so much.

Mr. PETERSON: All right. Thank you.

BLOCK: Dean Peterson at the convention of the National Association of Letter Carriers where he's pushing a resolution to allow mailmen to wear a so-called male unbifurcated garment.

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