Rural mail carrier Bob Bergman drove his last route on Friday, Jan. 8, ending an impressive 41-year career with the U.S. Postal Service. It’s been a good run, but he says it’s time to enjoy a less demanding schedule.
Bob has driven much of the same approximately 110-mile daily route for all of his years of service. The Maynard native qualified for the post office after passing a civil service test. He then subbed for two years on Warren Trotter’s route, taking over when Trotter retired.
The first 35 years of his career, Bob worked out of the Maynard post office. He transferred his starting point out of the Oelwein post office six years ago, but the route he drove stayed the same.
Some may see a rural mail carrier with a flashing light on the vehicle and think his or her only job is putting mail and packages in mailboxes. Bob explained they are like a rolling post office on wheels for people living in the country, bringing stamps, weighing packages and taking items to be mailed with them and back to the post office for sorting.
“Pretty much any transaction that is made in the post office, we can make from our vehicle for rural customers,” he said.
“I like to think I have taken special care of all my route customers over the years with good public relations and service.”
Knowing the families on his route over the years also helped his PR with their pets. He said he never had an issue with a mean dog, mostly because he already knew them by name.
After 41 years of driving a route, Bob says he could do it in his sleep, but then he knew the area pretty well having grown up in Maynard, where he has lived his whole life. He and his wife Janell and their son Benjamin and daughter Bailey live in the house he grew up in.
As the years have gone by, so have his route customers. He says some of his customers now are fifth generations of the people he served when he started working for the post office. And then there are the cars he has had — too many to remember, along with myriad sets of tires, brakes and oil changes.
Bob chuckle when he mentioned his new truck he had been driving the last month. He had hoped to end his career with his old truck and then get a new one, but the old truck conked out just before Christmas.
“It was ready to quit before I was, I guess,” he said. “But, I have always had a backup vehicle – you have to in this job.”
The familiar inscription from the General Post Office in New York City, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” has long been associated with mail carriers and is sometimes referred to as the “mailman’s motto.” Although the USPS has no official motto, Bob has upheld the aforementioned phrase to the best of his ability in four decades. He said there were very few times when he couldn’t finish the whole route because of bad weather and even fewer times that mail service was suspended due to weather conditions.
“It’s been a good living, bought a house, raised two fantastic kids, so there are no complaints,” Bob said of his long career. He’s going to enjoy some vacation time and get used to not having a routine before he tackles a few house projects.
He also has horses and is getting a new one, so he hopes to have it ready for trail riding this year. Not one to stay idle, Bob also officiates high school sports, something he thoroughly enjoys and plans to continue. Football, basketball and softball are his areas of officiating.
“It’s going to be kind of different for a while,” he said of his retirement, “but I don’t think I’ll have a problem keeping busy.”