Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

The Warmth of Summer

It brings more than just the sweet smell of the flowers to the Four Corners in Upstate NY… Well, autumn is here. Time has passed. It takes me quite awhile to settle back into the regular atmosphere here. It also takes me about that long to get passed that bit of sadness I get when the summer season is over. It means that the wonderful summer weather has moved on and the summer residents have gone back to their city homes. I work for the United States Postal Service in a summer resort area in Sullivan County, New York, with a high Orthodox Jewish population. I have been in the same office for nearly 28 years. My customers and I have become friends. Some are like family. Around the beginning of May, I start to feel the excitement growing. We start to get things in place, in the office, for the influx of people about to arrive at the end of June. Everyone will be coming back to the country to spend the summer in their homes.

The closer it gets, the more lighthearted I become. I so look forward to seeing everyone again. It’s always such a joy. People pop in just to say hello. They’ll stop for a minute or two to ask how I am, how the children are, and now the grandchildren as well. They’ll come to exchange pleasantries as they buy their stamps or send packages to their kids in summer camps. The children I greeted when their parents brought them in 28 years ago are now bringing in their own children to introduce to me. It is a lovely feeling to be a part of another’s life, even if just a small part, especially when I meet the new additions. There is such brightness in their eyes, and as with all little ones, they are quick to smile.


The customers who come to this office are very special to us. We see the kindness that they share with others and with us all the time. We have seen young and old alike help others with heavy packages or just hold doors because it is difficult for others. It has happened so many times that one customer will give another a few cents if they don’t have enough to pay the postage. I once saw one customer give another many dollars because he didn’t have all the money he needed to buy the postage for his daughter’s wedding invitations. The man who gave him the money, when told that he would be paid back, just said, “Mazel tov,” and that the person needn’t worry.


They seem like common courtesies, but all too often the simplest courtesy is forgotten in today’s rush. When done, though, they will be remembered, by someone, forever.


We really do not have enough parking to accommodate our office. It’s much worse in the summer time. Our year-round customers know this.  They help the situation by what I call “mail pooling.” One person will bring their mail and maybe one or two friends’ mail with them to send out. It helps with the congestion and people having to wait for a space to park. Everyone is really so nice and understanding that it leaves little time to waste in conflict.


Our office has adopted a few troops in Iraq, and while I have customers who give to worthy charities even though they need money themselves, they always find a little extra for the troops.  The troops include the sons and daughters of our locals. It has been an amazing experience to see how people go out of their way for others. To see the appreciation they have for the troops who are doing what they do to protect our freedoms and to help others is amazing.


One customer, who has a summer home here, is affiliated with a large Jewish summer camp on Long Island. When told what we were doing at our post office for the troops, they got the kids and their families involved. They were given a two-week time frame. It is always hard for me to tell people what they did without my eyes welling up. At the end of the two weeks, the camp sent a truck to our back dock with two men to unload an absolutely unbelievable number of things to send to the troops. They sent necessities to help make their time there more bearable while in the desert. They sent cleansing wipes for the men and women who are not near any water for weeks at a time and dozens of pairs of white socks to make them more comfortable. They sent tooth brushes, toothpaste, healthy snacks they can carry with them when on the move, and many boxes of zip-loc baggies to help keep their things sand-free. The children attending the summer camp also made soft portable pillows so that the soldiers could rest their heads when they are able to.  We have photos for people to see. It has been an incredibly touching experience and one that has been felt by the whole community.


Our office is also a passport office. We are a full-service office. We provide the convenience of being able to have your photos taken on-site for passports. For the people who come in from the city, it is a huge convenience. They are used to having to go somewhere to have photos taken first before going to the post office. In the city, it can take hours to apply for passports for a family. When dealing with whole families, it can be a nightmare. When we first began accepting passport applications, we were a little nervous. The lobby is small, and with too many people, we thought it could become a bit difficult to maintain cohesiveness. That worry was dismissed so quickly that we wondered why we worried at all. Whole families come in to have their passports done while they are up for the summer. Sometimes, a family may have four or quite a few more children of all different ages. Usually, there are at least two families in at the same time. Sometimes, on Fridays, there are way more than two families. The parents are so patient, and the children are so well behaved that it is a ‘mechaya.’ Everything is done in a timely fashion and the parents can’t thank us enough. We really feel that it is we who have to thank them more.  They really help to make it as much of a pleasant experience as we do.


Our situation changes dramatically during the summer. The area swells by about 3-4 times its normal population. It would seem that such mass entrance to the area would be cause for concern. Perhaps it is on some levels, but for us it is a cause for joy. People ask why I have stayed in this office so long when so many in this business move around and transfer to other offices. The answer is simple. I love the people who frequent my office. I am so happy to see them when they arrive for the summer, but as happy as I am, I am also very sad when they go home. I really hate to say good-bye.  Then I think to myself, without the good-byes,there would not be the happy hellos! That gets me past the sadness as I begin to look forward to the next time I will see everyone again.


Until June 2011,




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