Driving can be a challenging task on its own, let alone driving one million miles without getting into a car accident. Six mail carriers at the U.S. Post Office in Turlock recently achieved this remarkable feat, however, and were honored during a special ceremony this week.
Mail carriers Rosendo Flores, Taase Jennings, Rose Martinez, Agi Perez, John Marson and Michael Cowern joined the Million Mile Club on Thursday morning — a status meaning they’ve served the U.S. Postal Service for more than 30 years and driven a million miles without a preventable accident.
According to the USPS, which partners with the National Safety Council to present the Million Mile Award to carriers, postal drivers operate over 213,000 vehicles throughout the country as the world’s largest civilian fleet. The job is a challenging one, as drivers face hazardous road conditions, gridlock, uneven terrain and inattentive drivers seven days a week.
Turlock’s safe postal drivers received a special plaque with the Million Mile Club emblem, the NSC logo and an engraved personalized nameplate, as well as a black letterman jacket embroidered with their safe driver status.
Turlock Postmaster Neil Gonzalez said he wanted to do something special for the drivers who accomplished such a prestigious goal, so he put together a breakfast for them and organized the painting of a new mural in the employee break room.
“I really care about them and wanted to recognize them because safety is a big deal,” Gonzalez said. “The community deserves safe carriers delivering mail. We can't be reckless out there, and have to do the job diligently and safely.”
Featuring a stamp, a bald eagle and each new Million Mile Club member’s name, the large mural was painted by mail carrier Sebastian Ernest, who said it took him about 35 hours to complete. Ernest said he often sketches portraits of his coworkers, which led Gonzalez to approach him about painting a mural.
“When [Gonzalez] asked if there was an artist in the building, people kinda forced me to raise my hand,” Ernest said. “He said it would boost the morale, and I think he was right.”
As one of six mail carriers honored during the ceremony, Marson said that the past 33 years working at the Turlock Post Office have been nothing but fun. Born and raised in Turlock, he knows where every street is and has watched young children on his routes grow into mothers and fathers themselves.
“I feel like everybody is family to me here in Turlock, and now here I am working just a few blocks from where I grew up,” Marson said. “I make new friends every day and I feel like everybody’s uncle out there.”
Nationally, postal drivers log more than 1.5 billion miles annually while delivering to more than 157 million homes and businesses in every city, suburb and town in America. It’s not a job to be taken lightly, Marson added.
“A lot of people see us on the street delivering mail and go, ‘Wow, that’s kind of an easy job. I want to do that!’ Well, it takes a lot of energy,” he said. “You’re always ‘go, go go.’ It’s good though, because it’s good exercise.”