En español | After 19 years on the same route, you get to know your customers and they get to know you. A lot of them are seniors. Before the pandemic, I might see them, and we'd have a conversation in person. And that led to an exchange of phone numbers. Not for everyone, but for a few. For example, a customer told me she needed groceries, and I said, “Here's my number. Call me and I can pick up these items for you.” But now they've been told to quarantine, so they're immobilized.
Around the time the stay-at-home order was enacted here in California, another customer told me she was low on toilet paper. I had bought some the day before and said, “I'll bring you some in the morning.” I dropped it off before I went to work. I've never received a request like that before, but we've also never experienced a pandemic.
Most of the customers I'm close to and check on are widows. There's one gentleman I talk to who is undergoing chemotherapy, and I told him, “If you're not feeling well, call me and I'll make you some food or visit with you on the telephone."
It's my personality. I was probably raised that way. My customers see me every day. They know about my life, and I know about theirs. How can I not offer to help them out? Some of them have family members who live hours away. My sister — who works for the post office in management — and I are caregivers to our 92-year-old mother, so I empathize with their situations.
As the safety captain in our office, it's my responsibility to make sure everyone has access to personal protective equipment and sanitizer. In the mornings, all of the carriers spray down their vehicles and equipment. And we all wear masks and gloves. It has been an adjustment, at home and at work, learning to physically distance and being rigorous with the disinfecting of our environments. But I'm doing what is necessary to protect my customers and my family.
I've always loved my job, and I'm grateful to have it. I enjoy interacting with people. And I like being outside every day, enjoying the weather. I tried working indoors, and it wasn't for me.
There are many letter carriers who will go out of their way to help their customers, especially when they've worked the same route for years. Our customers know they can trust us. A lot of my customers tell me that I can't retire. I tell them I will, eventually. But I'll probably remain friends with them after that.
— As told to Jennifer E. Mabry