Lucky for us, we have some frames of reference, both inside and outside the confines of the show, to answer this question, or at least begin to.
Length of service: 20+ Years
We heard in the Pilot that Oliver has a government pay-grade higher than his then supervisor Andrea could count. That's reason enough to believe Oliver has been with USPS for a very long time.
But in pre-season one interviews, Eric gave a bit more specific answer to the question of how long Oliver has been in the service of USPS, which is well over 20 years.
Age: At Least 40
We know that Oliver was writing poems about mail in high school. From that we can assume it's always been a dream to work for USPS, and he likely pursued it as soon as possible. We also know that Oliver went to college, which means his career has to have begun as soon as possible either before he went to college or immediately after.
Not knowing whether or not he worked all through college, he could have worked for USPS part time from the age of 18 until he graduated, after which he took on a full-time position, at which time he would have been 22-23 years old. Add 20 years and you've got a window between 38-40 years old.
Length of Service: No Less Than 5 Years
Norman told Irene in "Time To Start Livin'" that Oliver drafted him from selling stamps at the Park Hill branch to work for him in Denver. We don't know how long Norman worked there before Oliver brought him to the Denver Main Branch, but we do have a reference point for how long he's been at Denver Main.
In For Christmas, Rita and Norman reminisce about the day they met, which was 4 years to the day they bumped heads on Christmas Eve. If we take that into consideration, Norman's been working for Oliver at least 4 years, but worked for USPS more generally longer than that.
While we don't know how long Norman was selling stamps, there's a good chance he wasn't eligible for transfer any sooner than 6 months into his USPS employment (standard probationary period), putting him at 4.5 years of service. I'll kick in the extra 6 months for good measure, putting Norman around at least 5 years.
Most jobs these days---though not all---require a college degree, even at entry level, and especially to work for the federal government. If we assume he began working for USPS only after he graduated, and accept that, between working at the Park Hill and Denver Main branches he's accumulated at least 5 years of service, then Norman is likely between 27-30 years old.
Length of Service: At Least 4 Years
We don't know exactly how Rita came to work for Oliver, nor how she came to work for USPS more generally. Our only indication of how long she's been with USPS even generally is how long she's known Norman, which we know is at least 4 years.
Let's remember that she was working the Christmas Eve shift, which is required of all newbies. Whether this is a Main branch requirement or a system-wide policy is unclear. If it's only a Main branch requirement, she could have worked at another branch and gained some service time we don't know about prior to coming to Denver. If it's a system-wide policy, then the year she met Norman was her first year of service, definitively making her time of service less than Norman's.
I am mostly using the same criteria I used for Norman to determine Rita's age. If we assume she was 22-23 when graduating college and began working for USPS almost immediately, then she and Norman would likely share a similar age range.
Length of Service: At Least 1 Year?
We know that Shane is coming up on 1 year at the Denver Main branch. But what we don't know is how long she worked for USPS in D.C. before arriving at the DLO.
Shane made it clear in "Dark of Night" that she didn't do much stomping in D.C. because she wasn't there that long. But what we don't know is if she worked anywhere else in the USPS system prior to that, nor do we know what Shane means by "I wasn't there that long" when referring to her D.C. tenure.
That only leaves us with one concrete fact, which is that Shane has been in the service of USPS for at least a year between D.C. and Denver. Maybe The Impossible Dream will help us nail this timeline down a bit better? I certainly hope so!
Your guess is as good as mine on this one.
She tells Oliver in "A Hope & A Future" that she has a "wealth of life history." I don't know about you, but as someone in their 20's, I'm not going to tell anyone that I have a "wealth of life history," no matter where I've been or what I think I've gone through. This places Shane, at the very least, somewhere in her 30's.
She is definitely older than Norman and Rita, whose age range max I estimated at 30. She's got at least a few years life experience on both of them, but I don't imagine she's too much younger than Oliver. Given these parameters, I set her age between 35-40.
But since people asked, and because we had a few frames of reference---regardless of how vague they were---it seemed like a worthwhile exercise!
What do you think, Postables, am I close on these points or way off base? Let me know in the comments!
Not Sure It Matters To Me,