Retired rural mail carrier Dean Lingen looks back on 35-year postal career

Dean Lingen has seen a change or two in the 35 years he's worked for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). "I've seen a lot of change in my 35 years," he says of work – ing the local postal routes, both rural and some city. Retiring this past week to focus on some projects he has waiting, Lingen started part-time back in the 1980s as a rural carrier associ – ate while also fixing cars at a mechanic business he built on a site that now houses Oemig's Sport Shop. So what's involved exactly with daily mail deliv – ery to the countryside? Lingen shared at least one standard prerequisite.

"You have to be able to read mail route numbers and fire numbers," he said. mail route numbers were what Lingen started out with, followed with fire numbers. In case you're wondering, fire numbers are the letter plus numbers seen on many a rural address, telling both the fire department and the postal service how to make it to your house. With the USPS now hiring at, there is also a postal exam. Job opportunities mean – while at the federal agency include becoming a rural car – rier associate like Lingen, but also many other posts. When it comes to driving meanwhile, those like Lingen who use their own vehicles might need one additional skill. Prior to retirement, Lingen delivered the mail by sitting in the pas – senger seat while steering and working the pedals in the driv – er's seat. The skill which he did effortlessly is needed for mail – boxes that are on the right side of the road, allowing for more efficient delivery. Driving, it turns out, is just one part of the job. Enter the house delivery with a dog!

Simply put, if your rural carrier is honking their horn outside the door, chances are they're trying to get your at – tention for a package. It might be time to bring Fido inside, or else come out and retrieve the package. Dogd, while friendly at home, can pose a hazard, and one that Lingen knows person – ally.

"I have been bit," he said of mankind's protective but some – time's territorial best friend. Given reality and experience, carriers aren't allowed to leave their vehicles these days. Now retired from the postal service, Lingen shared a motto of his.

"Treat others the way you would like to be treated," he said of his philosophy over the years. With openings at usps. com in the lower left hand cor – ner under "careers," the need is ever present, and the call goes on.

Dean Lingen on his last day at the Stanley Post Office last week. Photo by Joseph Back.

December 8, 2021