After 28 years of distributing mail to rural western Wisconsin, Dan Anderson has retired from his post at the United States Postal Service. His last day was Friday, March 27.
Anderson mostly covered the Ellsworth area, but has delivered routes in Beldenville, River Falls and even across the river in Stillwater.
He began his career in the 1990s by taking a postal carrier test. The higher individuals scored the more likely they were to become a part-time carrier, according to Anderson.
“The nice thing about being part-time is, if you want to make some extra money, you make yourself available to learn more routes,” Anderson said.
Occasionally he would fill in for other carriers when they got sick or had to take some time off. The duration of these jobs varied -- from every once in a while or six months, as was the case when he filled in for a regular River Falls carrier. Anderson eventually worked his way up to full-time status after close to 12 years.
A typical day began the post office at 6:30 a.m. He sorted the mail according to route and then put it in a case in order of delivery. He also organized packages and identified which person will be getting a package that day. Every mailbox has a size-adjustable slot in the case. The mail, ads and magazines are then pulled down for delivery, placed in trays or bundles and taken out to the vehicle along with the packages.
“And the first stop is the first stop and the last stop is the last stop,” Anderson concluded with a chuckle.
Anderson drove and delivered mail through all sorts of weather.
“There was a time, I could hardly see a hundred feet ahead of me, but I just kept going in the snowstorm,” Anderson said.
He recalls being stuck in the ditch and one of the people on his route pulled him out with their pickup.
“People are nice, they are willing to help you,” Anderson said.
Anderson says the best part of the job was his coworkers and the people he met on the routes.
“I talked to a lot of people at their mailbox or when I brought them a package to their door or house, we had conversations,” he said.
He says the relationships will be the thing he will miss the most about his move into retirement. People on his route will likely miss his presence too.
“There are people on my route, patrons who are waiting to see who is the next person to fill in.”
Anderson plans to spend the next year to think things over and relax. He hopes to travel to areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota he has not visited before, grow a vegetable garden and spend time with his friends and family.