By Pat Caldwell
VALE — Carla Campbell never intended to make a career out of the U.S. Postal Service.
It just kind of worked out that way.
Campbell, the Vale postmaster, stepped into the ranks of the retired Friday, capping a 30-year career in the mail service with a lot of good memories.
For Campbell, it isn’t difficult to identify what was the best part of her job.
“The people I worked with. They are all excellent employees. They give it their all,” Campbell, who grew up near Adrian, said.
Campbell, 61, stepped into the postmaster job in Vale in 2012. Before that, she was the postmaster in Adrian and worked at the Nyssa Post Office for 18 years.
“When I first started, it actually wasn’t a really big goal of mine. It was more of my mom’s goal,” Campbell said.
Campbell didn’t get hired right off, she said.
“I was on a list for five years before they called me for an interview. When I was hired, I was surprised,” Campbell said.
She worked meantime for Hopkins Wholesale Meats in Nyssa and then was hired only part time at the Postal Service.
“I started out as a clerk/carrier so I did both office and outside work part-time until I got a fulltime position there,” Campbell said.
Campbell, who lives on Lytle Boulevard, said she carried a misconception onto her postal service job.
“I didn’t think postal workers worked hard,” she said.
She soon discovered she was wrong.
“Delivering mail – there is a lot more to it. Remembering where all the addresses go, who has that address, who has moved on. It is quite a challenge,” Campbell said.
A big change over her career was automation.
“All the computer work that a manager has to do now, keeping up with the paperwork,” she said.
Other changes are less obvious. For one, she said, people write fewer personal letters now. The evolving nature of the American consumer was also obvious over the years, she said. In the not-to-distant past, big retail firms such as Sears and JC Penney – put out a seasonal catalogue.
Postal workers didn’t look forward to the bulky products landing, she said.
“Every time we would walk in and see a stack of those we’d groan,” she said.
Campbell said this winter was the worst she encountered in her career. The heavy snowfall created an array of difficulties for her postal carriers, Campbell said. From closing off mailboxes to producing unsafe conditions, 2017 will be one she remembers.
“I probably would have been tempted to go out on the 30th of November,” she said.
The Vale Post Office – which boasts a staff of 12 – processes about 6,500 letter-sized pieces of mail each day, including about 250 packages.
Campbell said she is ready to retire.
“I’ve seen people work until they die. I don’t want to do that,” she said.
Now, Campbell said, she can focus on her hobbies – fishing, reading – and spending time with her husband, Bruce.
Campbell said she will miss the people she works with.
“I will remember the good times. There has been a lot of good times,” Campbell said.