After 37 years with the Post Office, I now have my own route. As of the first of the year, I've been assigned to a nice route in Bridgeview. It runs from 79th St on the south, to Archer Ave on the north, and from Roberts Rd on the west to 77th Ave on the east. It is almost entirely a "mounted" route, meaning I deliver from the Postal Van, and the houses are predominently Cape Cods with no basements, built during the 40s & 50s. (A couple restaurants and a few manufacturing businesses thrown in.)
I like it - less stress on the mind and the body. (I haven't gained any weight yet, but the weight is "redistributing". And the sore back and kness is from lack of movement rather than muscle strain. My late friend Russ Niemann lived on the route, and used to take Sheba "the Wonder Dog" on long walks along Resurrection Cemetery (which borders on the west) and the stretches of the train tracks which border on the east.
Russ often talked of his neighbor, Pearl, a sweet little old lady for whom he shoveled the snow and cut the grass and ran errands and took to appointments. I had only met her once, but was glad to be "her mailman" now. (I still write to the little old ladies on my old routes, but I haven't seen them since I started this route.) I began a friendship with Pearl on my second day on the route. (We had constant snow cover in January, so I made a point of bringing her mail and putting it inside her screen door. She would leave a shopping bag on the door knob so that I could drop off her mail without having to distrub her, and without her having to pick it up off the stoop. Sometimes she would be waiting, other times she would leave a can of pop or a candy bar.)
Pearl is about 4 foot nothing, and weighs about 75 pounds, "fully clothed and soaking wet."
Her birthday was today. So I bought a card and some potted flowers, and I knocked on the door. She was real pleased, and then I asked for her blessing. (Each SLOL seems to have her own way of doing it. One would place the tip of her pointy finger on my forehead, much like E.T.) Pearl places the palm of her hand on my forehead, then against each of my cheeks, so she can bless "all of you".
She gave me a can of Diet A&W Root Beer, and a bill she wanted mailed.
I turned to leave, then turned back and enthusiastically asked, "Would you like me to sing for your birthday????"
She thought for a moment, smiled brightly, and replied..............
I heard Russ laughing all the way back to my truck. A loud, hearty laugh, the kind where you can't even breath.