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USPS Postal carrier honored for 1 million accident-free miles talks dogs, deliveries and what's changed

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USPS Postal carrier honored for 1 million accident-free miles talks dogs, deliveries and what's changed

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https://www.al.com/news/2021/04/postal- ... anged.html

Postal carrier honored for 1 million accident-free miles talks dogs, deliveries and what’s changed

Dogs of all sizes, kinds and attitudes, of course. Mail carriers and dogs go together like bees and flower gardens or tailgaters and country roads.

But mail carriers like Sherri White of Crossville, Ala., see a lot more than dogs. White talked about the job this spring shortly after earning Postal Service “Club Status” for 1 million miles (or 30-plus years) on the mail route without a preventable accident. It’s a small fraternity with only 13 members among Alabama’s 5,778 mail carriers.

“Seeing it all” is no joke in this job, either. “I had one guy on my mail route one time that really did want me to see him,” White said. “Just about every day.” And, yes, she means see all of him.

White has carried the mail since 1984 and covered the same 68-mile route weekdays for the past 14 years. Half-dirt roads and half-paved, her daily run takes her from a new and maze-like mobile home park that takes an hour by itself to scenic farm land with sunny fields, big barns and large trees to shade the road. “I’m lucky that I still have a lot of country roads and a lot of farms that have not broken up yet,” White said.

White knows every customer and every dog by name. She carries dog spray but rarely needs it, even though dogs have changed over the years, too. Today, there are more “scary dogs, pit bulls and things like that,” she said. That’s the way the world is now, she said, but she’s learned those dog’s names, too, and that’s the secret.

She has a new Jeep to make the route in any weather, and she’s had to get out of that Jeep for more than delivering the mail. “I had an older lady once that had fallen in the yard,” she said, “and I don’t know how long she lay there until I helped her in. Stuff like that happens to us.”

Carrying the mail can be a family business, and it is for White. Her father was a Million Mile carrier, too, and that was a big motivation for her to hit the milestone herself. Her grandfather was a postmaster, too, and his appointment certificate signed by President Herbert Hoover hangs in the Crossville Post Office today.

The job has definitely changed. Every home has what White calls a “9-1-1 address” now. That’s a modern, unique address implemented mainly to make emergency response faster and homes easier to find. When she started carrying the mail, “Route 3, Crossville, would be the only thing we had,” White said. “I remember when we had three Irene Davis’s on Route 3. You had to know her kids and her birthday. If Irene Davis had 20 birthday cards, you wanted to get them to the right one.”

“You knew your people” before the 9-1-1 addresses, White said, “but the physical address is really a good thing. It’s just harder to learn.”

White has new backup now from modern technology. When a reporter wanted to catch up with her on the route, Crossville Postmaster Briana Powchak used a laptop to find White’s exact location by the GPS scanner on her Jeep. Powchak could see a data trail left by every mail stop in that large mobile home park. And she could make a good guess how much longer White would be there and the best time and place to catch up with her.

How did White drive a mail route for 30 years without a crash of any kind? Her jeep is “lit up like a Christmas tree,” she laughed, and she’s always driven slowly. “My daddy always drove slow,” she said, “and I guess it’s because he was a mail carrier for 30 years. One of my cousins rode with him to a funeral in Georgia one time, and my cousin said he felt like he was in a funeral procession the whole way. And that’s the way that I’m, too. I just poke along.”

For three decades and counting. Delivering the mail. Without a single accident.

(In addition to White, Alabama has million-mile postal carriers in its Addison Post Office, Elkmont Post Office, Mobile Airport Station, Mobile Bayside Station, Mobile Loop Station, Mobile Prichard Station and Montgomery South Post Office)
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