LAST ROUTE: Long-time letter carrier reflects on 41 years of service as he retires

Published 10:58 am Saturday, July 1, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Balloons, cake and smiles from old friends and family from work and at home greeted long-time United States Postal Service employee Adam Welch when he arrived at the Natchez Post Office for his last day of work on Friday morning.

Welch has been employed by USPS for 41 years. He also holds the title of State Treasurer for the National Association of Letter Carriers.

A lot has changed in 41 years, Welch said.

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The days of delivering hand-written letters from one person to the other are all but over now that technology has taken over with faster options of email and text messaging.

Letter carriers are more accurately called “parcel carriers” with online shopping and the delivery of packages on the rise, he said.

Are the days hotter?

“Absolutely they are, probably just because I’m older,” he said. “And where I started, it should have been one of the hottest days because it was all walking downtown.”

Welch has worked the same delivery route, City 13, for 21 years on the South end of Natchez. He much prefers his route today to the one he first started with at the post office, City 7, which consists of roughly 13 miles of walking up to downtown Natchez businesses and houses with mail slots on them instead of mailboxes.

“Back then, we didn’t have a truck. We left here walking and came back here walking,” he said. “It seems like the heat is worse now.”

Welch said it doesn’t feel like he has been working for 41 years.

“August 7, 1982, I walked up those exact same steps,” Welch said. “I was 20 years old, weighed about 150 pounds, and had lots of hair with no gray in it. I was single, and I knew everything. All you had to do was ask me.”

Welch, now 61, recalls being timid when he first started the job but is now one of the loudest of the letter carriers, he said.

“I feel like, in my mind, I’m still 28 years old,” he said. “My body says, and that mirror tells me I’m not.”

He has trained and represented other employees as the president of the NALC. His position required him to butt heads with the postmaster, Kevin Vicknair, from time to time.

“Every day, he is always fussing about something,” Vicknair said.

“Not fussing,” Welch corrected him. “All I’m doing is trying to correct what I see is not right.”

Vicknair added that while Welch may have seemed “abrasive” on occasion, “He only seems that way because he cares so much about this job. A lot of (employees) may not like it because it hurts their feelings, but he only does it so that they may stay here for as long as he did.”

How does it feel to be retiring?

“I got up this morning and Lisa (my wife) said, ‘How does it feel knowing that this is your last day?’ You know, it’s just like any other day,” Welch said. “I put the same uniform on, got into my truck and came to work just like any other day. But tomorrow will be a new day. We will close a chapter of 41 years. On a tombstone, there is a beginning date, a dash and then an end date. … I hope that that dash represents 41 years that I’ve been able to make a positive difference in somebody’s life.”

Welch continued to teach and preach to the younger employees, even on his last day.

“We only have one thing to sell here at the post office, and that is service,” he said. “That little bit extra is what makes it special.”