The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 19, 2003


Postal carriers take to the road in new vehicles to deliver the mail

Mail carrier Donna Cantrill loads up her new USPS vehicle and heads out on her route to deliver the mail. (Photo by Ellen Huber)

If you haven't noticed, take a look the next time your mail carrier stops for a delivery at your mailbox and you'll see a new official USPS vehicle out there on the road. Or better yet, pull into the Carlisle Post Office parking lot after hours and you will see four new trucks parked side by side. A recent ruling from the Postal Service requires each mail carrier to drive an official vehicle. So far, Carlisle has four trucks, but eventually there will be six, one for each mail carrier.

We recently spoke with Carlisle resident Donna Cantrill, who has worked as a postal carrier in Carlisle for the past 20 years, first as a substitute, then as a regular for the past four years. The five other carriers, Cantrill tells us, are Rosemary Geis, John Belleville, Alan Comeau, Dan DeSantis and Eliza Vaillant. Gerry Poitras is the substitute.

There are six routes that vary in mileage. Cantrill's route, which is about five miles, starts at Virginia Farme Lane and goes on to Acton Street, Heald Road, Berry Corner Road and Lane, Judy Farm Road, South Street, West Street, Log Hill Road, some of Westford Street, returns on Cross Street and finishes up on a final segment of South Street. After four years on her route, Cantrill says she knows most of her "customers" and finds them to be nice people.

Cantrill starts out her seven-and a half-hour workday early in the morning, sorting the mail in the post office. She usually gets out on the road between 11 o'clock and noon, and finishes her route around 3:30 p.m. Now that the post office has changed its opening hour to 8:30 a.m., clerks and carriers are starting later, thus mail delivery occurs at a later time of day.

Driving the truck

Getting back to driving a new vehicle, Cantrill admits to not wanting it. "I was used to driving my own station wagon, a Ford Taurus. I had done it that way all these years," she explained. "But for safety reasons," she continued, "we are more visible in a truck; it saves the wear and tear on our own vehicles and it is more economical for the post office."

Cantrill says she was ready to quit after that first day with the truck. "I was so nervous. I had never driven a truck or a van. But each day it gets easier," she admits, "and after a month I'm okay with it. Today I was nervous because of the snow, but I am beginning to realize you can always learn something new."

As Cantrill explains it, everything is completely different now that she is using the truck. She has to load it differently; she has to sit and drive on the right-hand side of the truck and she has to drive without a rear window. All the carriers are advised not to back up, if at all possible, and to be cautious at all times. Cantrill believes that after a month out on the road in her new truck, she is not as tired at the end of each day. Seated on the right side, she finds it is much easier to reach over and place the mail inside the box.

The holiday season

Postal workers are now dealing with their busiest time of year, which started even before Thanksgiving. There are more packages, more fliers, more catalogues, and of course the December blizzard of Christmas cards. If customers will keep their mailboxes shoveled out after a snowstorm, Cantrill says she and her cohorts will be there with the mail. Inga MacRae, a 90-year-old, longtime resident of South Street, who has been crippled by a stroke and heart attack, and gets around in her home using a walker, has this to say about mail carrier Cantrill. "I have a very caring mail lady who brings the mail into the garage or leaves it on a table in the breezeway. She also makes sure before leaving that she sees that old person inside, moving around." There are others on Cantrill's route who have fond memories of receiving several copies of the newspaper on Friday when an article dealing with a family member has appeared in the paper.

Surely there are similar stories of mail carrier thoughtfulness on the other routes in town and let us not forget those kindly clerks behind the counter in the Carlisle Post Office Kevin LeBoeuf, Rick Moscatel, Andrew Comjean, Loraine Pasquantonio and Mark Harmon. (Behind the scenes are Wendy Wallerstein and Postmaster Bill Ponte.) They are all responsible for making a stop at the Carlisle Post Office a pleasant experience, especially in the crush of the holiday season.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito