|Apartment mailbox from 1916|
If you know me, you know I LOVE mail; letters, mail art, postcards, packages, quick hellos, fabric postcards, and anything you can put a stamp on. I am a little bit obsessed with mail. This all led to an idea to interview a mail carrier for my blog from time to time. As much mail as I send, I have somehow never met my own mailman ( I blame this on those new neighborhood security mailboxes...not a fan), but I have befriended my best friend's mailman 1800 miles away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has had the same mailman for over 10 years and I have occasionally written a little "Hello" or "Thank you mailman" on letters and postcards, and last Christmas I figured he should get his own holiday card c/o Jodi.
So, when I decided to do my questionnaire, "John the mailman" was my first choice! And, to my surprise, he didn't even think I was crazy, and he graciously agreed to answer my questions ( written out properly, stamped, and pop it in the mailbox!).
Here is a little bit about John
Milwaukee, WI 53208
|John with a friendly cat on his route|
How long have you been a mailman and what did you do before this?
I've been a mailman for 21 years now, as of Feb. 10th. I graduated from Marquette University with a liberal arts/ English degree in 1981. Bad time to leave college with a recession and all. My first job out of college was as a claims adjuster, a job I hated.
What's the most interesting or unusual thing you've delivered?
It's hard to say what the most unusual thing I've delivered might be. I'm a romantic, and I'd like to think that on any given day, I'm delivering letters from one star-crossed, dewy-eyed lover to another. As to the stuff I've knowingly delivered, I suppose it was an urn of a customer's father's ashes. That was a heavy package too.
What's the nicest thing someone on your route has done for you?
There are a lot of nice things people do and have done for me. There's one woman whose dad was a mailman, and he always got cookies and baked goods from the retired ladies on his route. So when she retired she started baking stuff for me. And her stuff is really GOOD! I've started recommending her chocolate chip cookies as an all-natural cure for the blues.
( And my Christmas card made the list!)
|One of John's favorites|
What do you hate to deliver?
I hate to deliver accountable mail- certified and registered mail- to people whose houses are being forclosed. You can feel the despair.
Do you have a favorite stamp that the USPS has issued?
I like the new puppy and kitty ones. I also liked the "Letter Carriers- We Deliver" ones from 15-20 years ago. I think the old ones- the 3 and 4 centers from the 1950s and 60s are the ones I most like to see. Of course, there were also some Green Bay Packers Commemoratives from '97 and '99 that I liked so much I got First Day Issue for each.
(Green Bay is my hometown!)
(Green Bay is my hometown!)
Have you ever been bitten by a dog (or person)?
I got bit by one dog-on my stomach of all places. Big target, I guess. If that stupid dog only knew how much I like dogs, maybe he wouldn't have done it!
Anything about your uniform mail carriers wish they could change?
I posed this question to the assembled masses out on the dock having a smoke before work. Most people wouldn't change a thing because, well, we're guys- and since it's a uniform we don't worry about picking stuff out and making it match and all that- we're just not that picky. I actually think the uniform one of the things the Post Office got right.
(hmmm,I will have to find a woman to ask in the future.)
Has anything embarrassing ever happened on the job?
Well, there was one day when I was delivering to a neighborhood, and noticed a huge number of greeting cards for one address, and said to the woman who came to the door, "Looks like it's somebody's birthday!" Pause. "Actually," she said, "My husband just died." Now, I've said a lot of stupid things over the years, but I've never wanted to take one back nearly as fast as that one.
There was also the time a woman said she'd introduce me to someone she thought I'd like- and it turned out to be her brother. She assumed because I was still single and never married at 40+ that I must be gay.
And lastly, I always love to ask people this; What is something we can't tell by looking at you?
One of the many things you can't tell by looking at me is that I am NOT an idiot. So many people get the impression that mail carriers may be nice, but not so smart. If I had a dime for every person who treated me like I couldn't spell "cat" if I were spotted the "c" and the "a", I'd be retired already with a lake home and a time share in Ireland.
A big "Thank you", John, for taking time to mail these, put up with follow-up emails, and email some pictures from your Milwaukee route. If anyone has a question for the mailman, feel free to leave it in the comments.... I think we could convince John to answer some more! :0)
|apartments along the way|
And everyone go bake some goodies for your dedicated mail carriers! I know mine deserves it- what goes through his head when he sees another stack of fabric postcards and crazy mail art? Also, according to John, make sure your mailbox is emptied while traveling so they can still fit all your mail goodies (and junk) in there!
*John, hope all your days are 65 degrees and full of sunshine!*