After working 28 years at Middletown's
U.S. Postal Service, Gerard "Jerry" Winzer decided to it was time to
retire. Winter, he learned, is not the ideal time to call it quits.
"November was a bad time to retire,"
the 62-year-old says. "I wasn't too crazy about just hanging around. I
needed to keep busy."
To beat the winter blues, Winzer
took up a part-time position at Wesleyan Station delivering mail.
Part-time evolved into full-time work, and, this year, the assistant post
office manager will celebrate 12 years working at Wesleyan, and his 40th
year in the postal services profession.
Winzer's workday begins at 7 a.m.
when he's greeted by heaps of unsorted mail. A mail messenger picks up the
parcels an hour later to deliver.
"By 8, I've already sorted a lot of
mail," he says noting the dozens of wood shelves he packs with envelopes,
papers, publications and packages. "You can't be a slacker in the post
Lisa Davis, the post office's
manager deals with budgets, equipment and bill paying. That leaves Winzer
to oversee 20 student workers, two full-time office clerks and two
full-time mail messengers, who each cover a specified route twice a day.
They make approximately 80 stops per route, delivering and collecting mail
at more than 100 departments.
Every letter or publication that
comes through Wesleyan Station is hand sorted. With no mail delivery on
the weekends, the postal workers have to deal with twice as much mail on
"You should see it in here on a
Monday. It's crazy," he says.
Campus mail used to be sorted
alphabetically, but Winzer has since developed his own sorting system.
Now, mail is bundled up inside Wesleyan Station in order of the carriers'
"It runs in order," he says,
glancing over the mail shelves. "If the carrier is in North College, he'll
go to the cashier's office, then to the top floor for payroll, the
trustees, academic affairs, then to the dean's office, and then he'll go
over to where you're at, in South College, to communications, to the
president's office, public information, and administration. He just
follows that route, so it's a pretty good system. It's easy to follow."
In addition to mail sorting,
rerouting letters, managing the staff and working the window, Winzer
spends a portion of his day on a postage metering machine.
Winzer examines the machine's counter.
It reads "337,062."
"Three-hundred-thirty-seven thousand," he says. "That's how much money
Wesleyan has spent on mailing through this machine, since we've got this
machine. And the machine is going on its third year," he said, while
metering two envelopes from the Psychology Department.
Before any letter goes through the
metering machine, Winzer types in a department code, to assure proper
billing. Each department has its own six-digit code, but Winzer rarely
sneaks a peek. He usually types in the codes by memory.
"I know a lot of them. I guess
they're just in my subconscious," he says.
His good memory also is put to the test
when he meets customers at the transaction counter.
"Somebody will say their name, and I
just know what box number they have, and they are just amazed," Winzer
says. "It just becomes a habit."
The post office has moved to
different locations throughout campus. First in the Downey House, and then
Fisk Hall, Wesleyan Station now occupies space in the Davenport Campus
Center, formerly the John Bell Scott building's science laboratory.
With barely enough room to pass a
mail cart through, Winzer is eagerly awaiting the much larger mailroom
that will be housed in the Usdan University Center. Construction will
begin early this year.
According to Alan Rubacha of
Construction Services, a mail receiving, sorting, distributing and package
handling area in the basement will occupy 1,230 square feet. Another 1,700
square feet of space will accommodate 3,000 post boxes, two transaction
counters and additional mail sorting space.
The postal workers can use the
space. In the 2002-03 academic year, Wesleyan Station received and sorted
more than 3.5 million pieces of mail and packages. Winzer and his staff
handle approximately 8,000 pieces of campus mail every week.
The current facility is about 1,000
"I wish more people from the
departments would come over here and see what we do," Winzer says. "We do
After Winzer leaves the office at
3:30 p.m., he returns to his home in Middletown. He spends his leisure
time jogging or with his wife, Missy, and nine grandkids. He's also the
vice chairman of the Board of Education, and hosts two television shows on
public access television titled "Today's Issues" and "Spotlight on
But Winzer never minds coming back
to work -- well, all but one day of the year.
"Valentines Day. It's by far the
worst," he says. "Worst than Christmas time. Grandmas and grandpas and
everybody is sending tons of candy and flowers here. There's those
chocolate kisses all over the floor. There's lots and lots of mail around