He’s the kind of mail carrier who can remain unruffled while delivering live bees to a beekeeper. And yes, that really did happen. He has the honey he got for Christmas to prove it. David Blair is a quiet, steady gentleman, unassuming and not much accustomed to being the center of attention. He started working as a mail carrier in the days when mail was sorted by hand – and before mail carriers delivered parcels (that’s Post Office for packages). And while he may have an impressive 33 years of service under his belt, two of his coworkers have even more. The Post Office Carrier Annex on Minuet Lane is the kind of place people tend to put down roots.
He’s tall and slim, but strong. He pulls bins of mail and carefully loads them onto his vehicle with the confident muscle memory that takes years to develop. He has the strength of character to conscientiously stay the course in his job for decades. Plus, he has the tenderness of heart to arrange for an elderly couple to have daily front door delivery, even though it means extra work for him daily.
COVID has changed parts of his job, but his steadfast habit of being conscientious still serves him well. “I try to stay focused, pay attention to what I’m doing,” says Mr. Blair. “Being an essential worker, I have to be consistent with remembering my mask, remembering my gloves. That’s the first thing I look for when I leave home. And the Post Office has made sure to provide enough PPE and sanitizing wipes. I don’t want to contract the virus, take it home, and pass it to someone else.” To support social distancing, the Post Office has staggered start times so that there are fewer employees in the building and developed a touch-free system for deliveries that require a signature confirmation.
When asked about the extra delivery work generated by shelter-at-home policies, Mr. Blair replies, “We don’t see it as extra work. That’s where the business is – people are on-line shopping. We know people are depending on us more than usual. People are expecting medications, checks, Mother’s Day cards. Making sure people get what they need is rewarding to us.”
Another rewarding part of his job is building personal relationships with his customers. Stopping by every house nearly every day for years has helped him become a good neighbor to everybody on his route. Once he noticed a five-year-old girl he didn’t recognize sitting on the sidewalk. After a conversation with her and a phone call, he learned that she was lost and had been missing long enough for the police to be looking for her. “Getting that five-year-old back to her family was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” says Mr. Blair. And he is no doubt one of the best things that ever happened to that family.
Caring is a two-way street on Mr. Blair’s mail route. “Even though some of my customers have lost jobs and had other serious issues, they are still concerned about me. They let me know they appreciate me. It’s very humbling,” he says. “We’re all going through COVID together. We’re like a family here.”
This story was written by Teresa K. Cain with photos by Sabrina Robinson