Through Rain, Sleet, or Pandemic

BOW, N.H.—A sunny morning in New Hampshire. Summer is inching closer. A few rural mail carriers ride the backroads, making their rounds. A dog barks in the distance, striking terror into the hearts of each USPS employee.

People in New Hampshire are stuck at home, and they’re going to keep being stuck for a little while. On Friday, the governor extended the stay-at-home orders, with some exceptions. Some hair salons are reopening, a few restaurants, a few businesses here and there. But otherwise, New Hampshire is not out of the woods yet.

In Portsmouth, the Prescott Park Arts and Crafts Festival was cancelled. That hurt. The Seacoast’s ocean beaches are shut down, too.

And of course, high school graduation is limping along. If you can even call it a graduation. In Bow, for example, there’s nothing happening graduation-wise except that seniors get little signs in their yards that read: “Bow High School Senior Lives Here.”

Whoopee.

You spend your high school career trying to get good grades and make your parents proud, and all you get is corrugated cardboard on a stick. No cap. No gown. No dancing the Funky Chicken with your friends on top of a speeding van. It’s depressing.

A few days ago, Lydia Gialluca, a Bow High School senior, found something in her mailbox. It was a handwritten note. Inside was a gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts. The handwritten message went something like this:

“Dear Graduate, congrats on graduating, please enjoy this card, and get something at Dunks. Your mailman, Josh.”

The gift card was for $5.

Other seniors in the area have been getting the same cards in their mailboxes. The same short notes. Same 5 bucks. It’s no Funky Chicken on a moving van, but it counts.

Lydia says it means everything knowing that someone notices her. “We’ve lost a lot of our senior year, and just knowing that someone is thinking of you, well, it’s just nice.”

There were 25 cards that popped up all over town, congratulating seniors. All signed by the mailman, Josh. None of the seniors know Josh personally.

Josh Crowell is the quintessential rural mailman, he’s steady, faithful, unafraid of vicious lap dogs, and he is an essential worker. During this coronavirus pandemic, Josh has not slowed down at all.

None of the nation’s mail carriers have slowed down. In fact, in many parts of the U.S., mail carriers are making so more deliveries than they do at Christmas.

Thus, while the rest of the country stays in their PJs, eating Haägen Dazs straight out of the carton, mail carriers are stocking up on Latex gloves and masks, logging in extra hours, making deliveries.

But they aren’t complaining. No sir. Not your friendly neighborhood USPS mailman.

One mail carrier, Amy Bezerra, has a route of 500 houses in Denver. She says, “It makes me feel good that I’m out there helping people. It makes me feel good that they can stay inside, especially if they are older or have health issues.”

Five hundred houses.

I don’t know if you ever think about it, but your mailman is out there helping to keep things going. They deliver stimulus checks, Census forms, food, business contracts, cards from loved ones, and anything else you can cram into a box, envelope, or federally-approved plastic tube.

With each delivery, they risk infection.

Florida mail carrier Craig Boddie says, “Every day I wake up and just wonder, ‘Is this the day that COVID-19 is gonna come home with me?’”

But mail carriers don’t quit because you know the old saying: Through rain, sleet, snow, and worldwide infectious disease pandemics, the cellphone bills must get through. No exceptions.

“That’s one of the tough things with coronavirus,” Boddie goes on. “We’re like a lifeline. Getting these people their medicines, their supplies.”

You might not notice your mail carrier, but they notice you. And they care about you. Really. Some people even make friends with their mail person.

USPS Mail carrier, Evette Jordain, in Palm Beach, says an old man on her route recently died of cancer. Just before the old man died, he said to his son, “Tell my friend Evette that I said goodbye.”

“And I lost it,” Evette said. “I didn’t know it was going to affect me like that.”

So that’s your mail carrier. Or at least it might be your mail carrier. A lot of people have never even met their mail carrier and don’t know their mail person’s name. Postal workers fly under the radar, they’re in and out before you ever notice them. They know you’re busy with your own life, they don’t want to bother you.

But it doesn’t change the fact that your mail-person works hard for you personally.

And in places like Bow, New Hampshire, they keep morale up. Like Josh Cromwell, delivering greeting cards to graduates that are filled with his own money.

“It’s a hard time we’re going through right now,” said Josh. “I just wanted to lift the seniors’ spirits a little bit.” A mailman to the core.

Recently, Josh has gotten a bunch of thank-yous from seniors on his route. He finds their cards in the mailbox. He thumbs open the envelopes addressed to him. One such thank-you came from young Lydia Gialluca. It was handwritten. Heartfelt.

When asked about why she wrote a notecard to her mailman, Lydia said, “Well, it just felt right, saying thank you.”

The girl makes a very good point.

Dear mail carrier: Thank you.

19 comments

  1. Susan Parker - May 20, 2020 7:51 am

    My mail carrier, Debbie, sent her husband and son to my home several years ago, to bury my cat. I am not able to do things like that now.

    Reply
  2. Pamela - May 20, 2020 9:28 am

    My daddy was a mailman for 21 years in Pennsylvania. After he “retired”, he became a back door man at Publix and later worked as a school custodian. Thank you, Sean, for noticing the unsung, unnoticed heroes of our society. They are the angels that walk amongst us.

    Reply
  3. Rhonda - May 20, 2020 12:08 pm

    Thank you for this one! Good timing! I got my behind chewed out this week because a package I sent 2 day priority took 7 days to arrive. They intended to let everyone know how unhappy they were. They knew it wasn’t my fault but by crackies she was going to tell everyone how unhappy she was because she waited until the week before her husbands birthday to order and the it didn’t arrive in time!
    This did not sit well as my sweet mail carriers are angels and I will defend them to the point of butt whooping if need be. Our carrier was diagnosed with cancer. Her daughter and 2 other carriers ran her route for her so that she could still receive her salary. Talk about stepping up! This went on for some time until she bravely lost her fight. Now we all are Mamas to her daughter.
    If you are stepping up God Bless your heart and all your other parts. If you are griping because you have been put out a bit, shame on you! I hope you find a butt whooping in your mail box!

    Reply
  4. Terri - May 20, 2020 12:27 pm

    ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  5. Allison Gilmore - May 20, 2020 12:28 pm

    Well, darn it!   Even this simple piece about mail carriers made me cry.  Just before reading this,  I was watching the morning news about the floods in Michigan, updates about Covid 19, the racial issues in Brunswick, GA, and the ongoing lack of civility and respect in politics.   And then reading this simple piece about mail carriers pushed me over the edge and the cathartic tears started flowing.   So I just let the tears flow. And then I refilled my coffee mug. And maybe now I’m closer to being ready to ease into my day after this gentle reminder that in spite of all the bad stuff, if I follow Sean’s good example and Mr. Rogers’ good advice to “look for the helpers,”  I will find many reasons to have hope for our future because of good people.   I hope you find lots of good people in your day today.

    Reply
  6. Karen - May 20, 2020 12:43 pm

    I’m a retired city carrier, and you do get to be friends with your patrons. Especially the older folks who watch for you every day. They would be sitting on the front porch in good weather or at the window in bad and always so pleased when a greeting card would come. I loved my work.

    Reply
  7. Denise DeVries - May 20, 2020 12:49 pm

    Thank you all. We do know you are here flr us. We are poo at saying Thank you.

    Reply
  8. Annie Franklin - May 20, 2020 2:27 pm

    A big Thank you to our mail Carriers all over the USA. I pray that #45 will not get rid of our postal workers we need them. God bless

    Reply
  9. Jenny Young - May 20, 2020 3:55 pm

    I love my mail man. He’s a nice man but he’s not Alice.

    And I still remember our mail carrier, Alice Miller, from when I was a little girl. My mother had a serious bloodclot in her leg when I was a preschooler. She had to stay in bed all the time with her leg elevated. My dad would fix us our lunch & put it in the fridge, my older siblings went to school & I would be home with mamma….I was 4 yrs old.

    Alice passed our rural house twice a day, once in the morning & once in the evening on her route in & out. She would stop both times, get out of her jeep to come in & see what my mom needed.

    Another fun thing about Alice…she looked so much like my mom! They weren’t related at all but many times we’d go to a church singing or revival meeting & I would see Alice from behind, think she was my mom & run up to her. Years later after I’d moved 1,000 miles from home & was married & a mother myself…Alice wrote letters to me. By that time her grand daughter was delivering the mail.

    Reply
  10. Jed Dillard - May 20, 2020 4:09 pm

    Daddy was a “mail man” aka Rural Letter Carrier for 39 years..Started in 38 and was a lifeline for lots of rural residents.
    He delivered baby chicks, saplings from Hastings Nursery in Atlanta, and samples.
    Frequently samples were soap, but one day it was chocoated ExLax. Not all of his patrons read well, some not at all

    The next day a lady said, “I’m gonna KILL you!
    I thought it was CANDY!”
    He died 35 years ago. I can still see and hear him telling that story.

    And he learned later that the crew running a still would say “Here comes Mr. James. It’s time to knock off for dinner (back when it was breakfast, dinner and supper)

    Thanks for the tribute!

    Reply
  11. Linda Moon - May 20, 2020 4:21 pm

    Cards and notes are nice, especially from mailman Josh. My next-door neighbor is a postal worker. The next time we’re outside chatting 6-feet-apart at the fence, I’ll pass Josh’s story on to her. And my mail carrier will get a Thank You note from me today. Just as I was about to hit “post comment” a horn-honking parade of teachers in cars drove through my neighborhood. I ran outside to wave at them with my hands and also my own barefeet! Spirits can be lifted by mail carriers, unexpected teacher parades, and columnists! Thank you all!!

    Reply
  12. Margaret Jackson - May 20, 2020 6:42 pm

    This post is so inspiring. Thank you for kind words about rural letter carriers.
    My Daddy carried the mail for 25 years. We live in Randolph Co., Ala, and Daddy’s route covered a large part of the northeast corner of the county.
    Everyone knew him!!
    When he passed away so many people came to his visitation, just because he had been their “mailman”. Everyone loved him.

    Reply
  13. Paula - May 20, 2020 7:03 pm

    Such a sweet story!

    Reply
  14. Jeanette - May 20, 2020 8:41 pm

    My home town! I love it that the mail carrier was so kind to those seniors, letting them know that someone is thinking of them during this important time in their lives!

    Reply
  15. Shirley - May 20, 2020 8:44 pm

    I have depended on rural mail service for the past 58 years, and can to attest to the fact that they are among the most reliable, efficient, caring people on the face of the earth. I am hoping and praying that the POTUS does not get his way to privatize the postal service, replacing it with a corporation. The only one who will benefit from this will be the corporation that holds the contract.

    Reply
  16. Robert Chiles - May 20, 2020 9:54 pm

    Remember when it comes time to vote, that the USPS is at stake.

    Reply
  17. Linda Moon - May 21, 2020 1:21 am

    P.S. As I took my evening walk I chatted with one of my neighbors who taught Kindergarten. Some of her former students who are this year’s High School Graduates organized a parade – – honking and driving in front of her house today. They were only five years old when she was their teacher, and all these years later they honored her with a parade and a jarful of meaningful stories. “It don’t get much better than that”…..two parades in one day up in these beautiful hills ….. one that started off the day and one that ended it! And my mail carrier got the Thank You note from my mailbox, too. What a wonderful day!

    Reply
  18. Barbara - May 21, 2020 10:45 am

    Imagine my surprise to see “Bow, NH” at the top of a Sean of the South column!! Living in the Capital city adjoining Bow, NH, and an avid fan of yours, I was amazed that you knew and wrote about a happening in our little northern state. It was a very sweet gesture of the postman to be sure. Thanks for taking notice and always elevating the kindness and heartwarming stories of everyday folks. Y’all come up and visit NH sometime.

    PS I appreciate so very much that your writing is never political. It’s refreshing. Some commenters don’t seem to be able to do likewise.

    Reply
  19. Frances D Lester - May 22, 2020 3:27 am

    Your column brought back memories of our Daddy who was a rural mail carrier for 41 years, beginning at age 21. His patrons watched for him every day, and he knew “all of their children and all of their names”, where their families came from and where they went. One fellow said, “If you show him a shovelful of dirt he could tell you where on his route it came from!” Even now older people tell me of waiting for the mail when they were children. So glad to have had the experience of growing up in our country community where we all knew each other.
    Frances Dillard Lester, Oglethorpe County, GA

    Reply

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