I am a mail carrier, and to be perfectly honest, I really don't understand the concept of giving gifts to public servants. Naturally, I treat my mailman pretty well at Christmas. I have to! We work about ten feet from each other for about two hours every morning. He pretty much earns whatever spiff I give him because he holds my mail four times a year while I'm on vacation. Twenty bucks is a small price to pay for this service, but he is also a friend of mine. That scenario is pretty simple. On the other hand, I have 650 or so patrons of my own, and I may speak to many of them two or three times a year. I get paid well enough, and I don't feel like they owe me anything, so what is proper?
Unless there is a run on either good or ill will, $150 is a typical year in the gift department. That goes along with way too many cookies and a number of cards that don't contain any money. I don't do any favors based upon Christmas gifts, nor do I hold miserly behavior against the many Scrooges on my route. Why would I? I have never dated, hung out with, nor spent any of my own money on a patron. To expect otherwise would be a bit much. I do think there is a happy medium for carrier and customer alike.
Honestly, I get enough Christmas gifts and make enough money. I work in a poor neighborhood, and taking a ten or twenty from someone is the Robin Hood principle in reverse. If somebody on my route wants to spread good will, I would prefer to get it in the summer. When the temperature hits 95 degrees, I'd just as soon receive my gifts in the form of bottled water or a cold Coca-Cola. It's a whole lot less awkward than taking money from somebody who probably needs it more than I do. Believe me, I'll remeber that cold Dasani longer than a plate of cookies or five bucks!
I can't say that I know any "sanitation engineers," but it seem like it would be more important to keep them happy than the mailman. Simply put, a nice little bribe around Christmas time goes a long way. Years ago, my mom used to give the garbage man a twenty every Christmas, and an additional tip from time-to-time helped her to get rid of some items that were a bit too numerous or large for ordinary pickup. It's a better investment than giving gifts to the mail carrier. He (or she) is going to put the same thing in your box no matter what. Let's go through this again. A gift to the garbage man may help you get rid of a player piano a piece or two at a time, whereas giving money to your mail carrier won't get a surprise lotto check in your mailbox. Spend your Christmas money well, and keep that water cold.