The truck was parked in front of the walkway for more than 20 minutes.
It might seem strange to see a mail truck at one home for so long, but if you knew mail carrier Mike Mulholland, it wouldn’t seem odd at all.
Mike, 56, has worked for the for 30 years, 15 of those on Mercer Island.
“I became a mail man because I wanted to be with people and be outside. To me, I saw the post office as a perfect opportunity. I could be a public servant and take care of my customers, especially the seniors.” That is exactly what he does.
For many of his elderly customers, Mike delivers the mail right to their door. If he hasn’t seen a customer for a while, he makes sure to go to the door. He keeps an eye on them. If they need to talk, he’ll visit with them.
With the elimination of four carriers last year and a consolidation of routes, Mike has less time to visit. His day starts at 7:30 a.m. with the sorting of oversize and catalogue mail. He then puts them in delivery sequence and into trays. After two hours of sorting, Mike heads out to deliver the mail for the next six hours.
But he delivers much more than just the mail.
Mike spends many of his lunch breaks visiting with seniors. “One lady has macular degeneration. She can’t see. At lunch, I sit with her, help her with her mail. She has no children, just a relative in Portland. If she didn’t have me, she would be in assisted living. It is helpful to have someone look in on her everyday.”
Mike is not the only local mail carrier in tune with their customers. In fact, not too long ago on Mercer Island, another mail carrier — too modest to share their name — alerted police that an older customer hadn’t picked up her mail in two days. Knowing she had no relatives nearby and that she hadn’t mentioned a trip, the carrier was adamant something was amiss. When the police knocked down the door, the elderly customer was lying on the ground, dehydrated, having fallen three days earlier. The postal carrier saved her life.
Mike could retire now after his 30 years of service, but he wants to stay a few more years. “I have so many seniors on my route,” Mike recalls, “and often I am the only person they see all day. It is not just the mail that is important, but that they get to see some one.”
“For me, it’s almost a ministry to look after the people.”
The post office has received bad press lately due to rising postage costs and possible delays in service. But Mike gives it his stamp of approval. “ from here to New York? When you think about the price and what that one letter goes through, it is an amazing system. When you compare rates to the rest of world, it is half the price.”