SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Since the Pony Express first etched a dusty path across the country, Americans have counted on the postal service whether on horseback or a carrier’s back.
The postal service is only as good as its half a million workers.
“I’m actually a third-generation postal employee. My grandfather and father were both here. My father was here 40 years. I’m not going to match his time,” said Kim Rathman, worker at Sioux City USPS.
But she’s really close. Rathman’s first day wearing the red, white and blue of the USPS was February 2, 1985, also known as Groundhogs’ Day.
“Some days, it’s like the same thing over and over and nothing too different and then other days it’s like there’s something new. Something comes on or there’s a new customer different questions or concerns and it goes like that,” said Rathman.
Since 1992, Rathman has connected with customers at the downtown Sioux City office, but not anymore. After logging almost 38 years, Kim retired early December.
“I have a lot of projects at home that I need to finish. I do thing around the house, and I get to spend more time with my kids and friends. Already promised I won’t be down every month but maybe every other,” said Rathman. “I have 38 years of working here I’d like to have 20 years to enjoy it and relax.”
“It’s kind of overwhelming because you work your whole life and then when it gets here it’s like whew,” said Rathman.
“If you saw the people coming in this morning, they know her by name. They’re going to miss her,” said customer Tracy Kunkel.
But probably no more than Rathman will miss them.
“The hardest thing is going to be missing my customers. It’s like leaving your family and going somewhere else,” said Rathman. “After they come in two or three times, I make an effort to know their names,” said Kim.
During nearly four decades of selling and sending stamps and packages, Rathman’s customers have become kin sharing good and bad news over the counter. Like when Rathman stepped away after being diagnosed with cancer.
“My customers were so awesome. The number of cards I got when I was off. Some people sent plants, some just sent greetings. That made it like you are making a difference and you are impacting everyone you try and encounter,” said Rathman. “Some customers are surprised. They come up to me and ask how do you remember my name. I try and make it a point. Because of my customers I have a job.”
“Some of my best friends are customers. Kind of get to know them and now you hang together and it’s amazing. It’s more like a family than customers,” added Kim.
Like with the job itself, Rathman said she’s OK with change.
“People are emailing and faxing and everything else. That was never around when I started,” said Rathman.
Something true inside the post office and out.
“This winter is going to be nice. I can look out and watch the snow and not have to worry,” said Rathman.