Two Jemison mail carriers to retire Jan. 30
After more than 25 years of delivering letters and packages to residents in Jemison, two mail carriers will retire at the end of January.
Michael Williams and Donna Griffin have both worked at the Jemison Post Office since the 1980s.
Griffin started working in June of 1983, and Williams started working at the post office in September of 1987.
“I got interested in being a mail carrier because of a friend,” Williams said. “I took the test you have to take to become a mail carrier and passed it, and got into it that way.”
Griffin had a similar experience in that she decided to become a mail carrier because of her uncle who was also a mail carrier.
“I had children and wanted to be able to find a job that I could work with hours that didn’t interfere with me raising my kids,” Griffin said.
Both Griffin and Williams, who are “rural mail carriers,” have methodically spent each day sorting and delivering mail to be delivered to the residents who live along each of their routes.
“This is not a job for a scatterbrained person,” Williams and Griffin said standing in front of rows of letters and magazines already sorted for the morning delivery. “You have to be very organized and efficient with your time to do this job well.”
Each mail carrier has his or her own “signature” way they package the mail to be delivered including “bundles” wrapped with a rubber band.
“I personally like for the mail I deliver to have a rubber band around it,” Williams said. “Each mail carrier has their own way of doing things.”
Williams takes the “West Route,” which stretches from County Road 42 to Interstate 65, and up Highway 31 toward Calera.
Griffin’s route is the “East Route,” which includes the east side of Interstate 65 and borders the Clanton routes.
Each route is designed to be 9 hours and 40 minutes.
“The routes are honestly what make the job the most fun,” Griffin said. “I love being outside driving around, and you get to know people by going by their homes every day.”
Williams echoed Griffin’s statements and said he has watched children grow up at the houses he delivers mail to each day, and has interacted with different people so much they almost seem like family.
“When you interact with people on a daily basis, they become a part of your life,” Williams said. “It becomes so much more than just delivering mail to houses each day.”
Although pesky dogs, unruly drivers, grumpy residents and small children running around can be difficult parts of the job, Griffin and Williams said it is the people who make the job enjoyable.
“You have to deal with a lot when you are driving around each day, but it is the people who make the job fun,” Williams said.
When Griffin and Williams both started working as mail carriers, technology was not as advanced, and many people still wrote letters as a form of communication.
“We have definitely seen a decline of people writing letters, but people still receive a lot of things by mail,” Griffin said. “Whether it is their newspaper, or magazines, or bills, people still get them by mail, and packages have really picked up within recent years. It is sort of a known fact that people we deliver mail to can tell time by their mail carrier. They can usually know that it is a certain time of day when we show up because we try to make it a habit of coming at the same time every day.”
Griffin and Williams both recently received their “blue books,” known to many mail carriers as the “confirmation” they can retire. The two will have a retirement dinner Jan. 27 and their last official day on the job will be Jan. 30.
“I plan to spend my retirement enjoying my family; I want to travel and have my own schedule,” Griffin said.
Williams said he has not been fishing since his 20s and would like to purchase a camera to take pictures of wildlife.
“We are looking forward to retirement, but it is definitely bittersweet,” Griffin said. “The people you work with are your friends, and that will be the hardest part of leaving.”