Today is my Nevada-adopted-Mom's birthday. It's some anniversary of her 38th birthday. Whereas most women stop aging at 29, she stopped at 38, which just so happens to be her route number (yes, she's a mailman, too). How did she become my Nevada adopted Mom? Glad you didn't ask...
I had just transferred to Henderson, Nevada from the Long Island, New York area in mid-March of 2000. One of the best things about this job is that you can do things like that. By transferring, I lost all of my in-office seniority, but still kept my overall time in the Post Office. So as far as bidding on routes and vacation time and things like that, I was at the bottom of the totem pole, but I made it up in so many other ways.
The P.O. does not have area wages. The salary is the same across the country. So, while doing this job in New York and Los Angeles and Chicago and other major metropolitan areas leaves something to be desired as far as cost-of-living, if you're willing to relocate to smaller markets, you can have a much better quality of life. I've had my own home out here since July of 2001, and that was perhaps the biggest reason I came out here in the first place. Living in New York, on a P.O. salary, I was most likely either never going to have the house, or I'd be living check-to-check forever to finance it if I did get it.
Having been out here only a few weeks, I really hadn't gotten to know many people yet. I came from a small office in New York which only had about 15 routes in it. I carried in a fairly affluent section of Long Island, where each house had a little bit of property to it, so walking routes covered more geographical space than they did houses. So there weren't a lot of carriers in the building, and our office wasn't too big, so we all knew everything about all the co-workers...whether we wanted to or not.
In switching out to Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, I went from an area of the world where all of the space had been maximized and used, to an area of extreme growth and change and upheaval. At that time, the area was the fastest growing in terms of population in the United States. Houses were going up as fast as they could be built, and were being sold even faster. Overnight, new streets would open, and nearly on a weekly basis, new neighborhoods would spring up. As a consequence, the P.O. was struggling to keep up with all the rapid growth. There were new routes being created practically every month. By the time I transferred in, the office I walked into was huge, and still rather tightly packed. There were so many people there on any given day it seemed like I'd never get to know everyone by name.
Music has always been a very important part of my life, and my working day was no exception. At the time I either carried a Walkman or a small portable stereo mini boombox kinda thing, depending on the route I'd be on that day. On this particular day, as I came back into the station, I had my boombox blasting Motörhead covering a song written by Richard Berry, but made most famous by The Kingsmen. As I got out of my truck and wheeled my stuff into the office, some woman I sorta recognized came up to me, hands on hips, and said, "Is that Louie Louie?" To which I replied, a little hesitantly, "...yeah..." The hands now rose from her hips to her ribcage, and the voice also rose a little in pitch and volume as she queried, "How old are you?!?" Hesitancy rising to match the hands and tone, I responded, "...28..." The hands now shot up to meet her armpits, and the voice now rose accordingly to a near-shriek, with a volume to match; "I HAVE CHILDREN OLDER THAN YOU!!!"
Once I was able to stop my eardrums from bleeding, I started to beam, threw my arms out as wide as possible, and responded in kind...
That was over 11 years ago. We've gone on to become very good friends. I played tour guide for her and her husband (also a good friend, was a carrier for many years, and is now a high-ranking local carrier's union official) on their first official vacation to New York back in September, 2003. There are plenty of stories from that trip I need to write-up...ask Mom about the cab ride to go see The Producers on Broadway...
What probably kills her the most about her "name" is the fact that our resident fossil, who is now 77 years old (which would make him nearly 2 decades older than her), and still carrying mail...calls her Mom too.
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