This week there will be tears of joy and sadness. Nearly everyone dreams of that day when they can retire from their chosen (or sometimes not chosen) profession and spend the rest of their life doing what they want to do. After 29 years I will be hanging up my blues and retiring from the United States Postal Service. This decision, one of the hardest ones I have ever made, is bittersweet.
As with any job, there is good and bad and being a city letter carrier is no different. Perhaps the biggest challenge has been the weather. You know the old saying “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow …” Well, it is 100% true and, even though I grew up as a farm girl and love being outside, there were days that I definitely had second thoughts. I think the worst was the driving, cold rain. After all these years I can positively say that there is no way you can keep yourself and the mail dry on such days. Miserable is the only way to describe it.
You know how they always ask a person if their glass is half full or half empty. Being on the positive side, mine has always been half full, so let’s talk about the good first. Hands down, it is the people I will miss the most. I have been blessed by meeting some truly wonderful folks through this job. There are some people I have seen nearly every day for 29 years. It’s a gray area when they changed from customer to friend, but now many of them have become true friends and we socialize outside of work. I have watched many of their kids grow up and now those kids have kids. If I am not careful, that will definitely make me feel old!
I still find it amazing that still, in this day of modern technology, delivering the mail is one of the few jobs remaining where it is customer service on a one-to-one basis. People know that we come to their home day after day and sometimes we are the only interaction they have. It’s nice to know that, besides the mail, we can bring a smile to someone’s day.
On the down side, I can remember when I started we went in the office and sorted the mail and actually delivered the mail … period. Simple. Now everything has changed, some for the better and some not. Everything is tracked now, and this is not necessarily a bad thing because people know where their packages are. But, have we gone too far? Customers can go online and know within the hour when to expect their parcels. Isn’t just knowing the day good enough? Upper management needs to know how long I am in the office, how long I am on the street, they track me with GPS in our scanners. I’m sure they even know how many times I go to the restroom.
I have been blessed all these years to work in a small office. I know all of my co-workers’ families and they know mine. We are a family. We go out of our way for each other. When my dad, then my mom and later when Jim was sick I got time off to be with them because my co-workers covered for me. It’s time I will always treasure and I would not have gotten it if I were in a larger office where employees are just numbers. I will miss my “second” family.
I count my blessings also to work for a boss like Treina, my present one. She has done every job in the post office and can relate to what we go through on a daily basis. She treats all of us employees with respect and is not afraid to hand out praise as well as discipline.
This is a rarity in the postal service as most management is only concerned with moving up the ladder which makes them only concerned with saving time and money. My former boss would actually stand behind me with a stop watch and time everything I did. If I was even two minutes late returning to the office at the end of the day I would have to explain. She could learn a lot about being a manager from my present boss. Sadly, there are a lot of postal managers who follow this way of thinking. Treina and Mark, another former boss, have had the insight to be a buffer between their employees and upper management and I admire that.
As this new phase of life begins I do have some definite plans. I want to do more writing. I always have been a writer, then life got in the way. Doing these articles the past couple years, I have discovered that this is truly my passion. Everyone has a story and I want to tell more of them.
Ron and I want to travel. We want to see the giant Redwoods and other natural wonders this country has to offer. I’m sure that, along the way, we will encounter interesting people whose stories are just begging to be told.
One of the first things on my agenda is heading to Pennsylvania with my grandson Wyatt. It’s important for him to find and know his roots. Sometime later I will head to Indiana to hopefully find some of my Amish roots. Roots are important, it is who we are.
I have been working with Teri who has been teaching me a better way of healing through the use of essential oils and positive energy. I want to explore this further as well as write a food blog that will take old family recipes and make them healthier without sacrificing flavor. There is also a book on the horizon. That’s just for starters.
I am excited and yet a little scared as this new phase of life begins. After having a working routine for the past 40 years, it is hard to let go. I will keep the friends and relationships that I have made along the way and always cherish them. As for the constant scanning and being tracked by GPS, it will be a pleasure to be free of that. Customers have already been telling me they will miss me. Perhaps that is the best testimony to a job well done. Thank you all who have helped me along this journey. I hope my next one will be just as exciting and fulfilling.
Photo by Fotolia/photoiron