So for a number of years out here, my job was to fill in for five specific carriers on their rotating days off. Each carrier had one day off a week (in addition to Sunday), so I would wind up doing a different route every day, within that group of five. One of the carriers, at the time I was doing this, was pushing 70, but we've always joked about him being a million years old. We frequently ask him about his days in the Pony Express, and he shoots back that when he started, they rode dinosaurs! Every once in a while during the mornings in the office, if he happens to stroll down the aisle where my case is, I'll shout "Dead Man Walking", or yell out "Lazarus!". Gotta have some fun.
This man is very popular on his route, so much so that when I would be out there, old ladies would come up to me and ask, "What happened to that nice old man who used to do this route?" Remember, the carriers are only off one day a week other than Sunday. These ladies had just seen the guy yesterday. "Used to do this route?" I finally got so sick of this ridiculous query, that one day, without picking my head up from the box I was putting mail in, I told a woman who had asked me that, "Oh, I'm sorry ma'am, he died". As I continued to casually put mail into the box, I could see out of the corner of my eye the look of shock take over her face, and her jaw drop down to about her waistline. I honestly can't remember if I let her off the hook and told her it was just his day off, or if I let her just think the worst, knowing full well she'd see him again the next day.
So the carrier came back the following day, and did his route as usual. When I saw him the next morning, he yells, "You been tellin' people on my route I'm dead?!?" "Yup". "Oh, okay".
These same women would also tell me, because I wasn't getting there at the times they were used to from him, "You must be new". An attitude of you-don't-know-what-you're-doing was dripping off every word. I'd been doing this job for 6 or 7 years at the time, so it kind of offended me, so when they would tell me I was new, I'd tell them, "No, I'm 31 years old!". They seemed to stop with the smarmy comments after that...
The funny thing is, every fall, he would take 6 weeks off to go back to the Illinois area on vacation. I never had to say a word to anyone on his route after the first week. They just started taking up a collection for his next of kin.
As I write this, the man is about two months from his 76th birthday, still carrying his route five times a week. We make fun of him because we all can only hope to be half as spry and full of energy as him. His sense of humor is also bigger than the fire that would be started were we to give him a birthday cake with the number of candles that we claim his age is.
Blog Post Soundtrack; The latter portion of The Roots Come Alive!