SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Since the Pony Express first etched a dusty trail across the country, Americans have relied on mail service, whether on horseback or on the back of a porter.
Swiss Post is only as good as its half a million employees.
“Actually, I’m a third-generation postal worker. My grandfather and father were both here. My father was here for 40 years. I’m not going to keep up with his time,” said Kim Rathman, a worker at Sioux City USPS.
But she’s really close. Rathman’s first day to wear the USPS red, white, and blue was February 2, 1985, also known as Groundhogs’ Day.
“Some days it’s always the same and nothing special, and other days it’s like there’s something new. Something comes along, or there’s a new customer, different questions or concerns, and so it goes,” Rathman said.
Rathman has been in touch with clients from the downtown Sioux City office since 1992, but no longer. After nearly 38 years of logging, Kim retired in early December.
“I have many projects at home that I need to complete. I do household chores and spend more time with my children and friends. I’ve already promised I won’t be down every month, but maybe every other month,” Rathman said. “I’ve worked here for 38 years and I want 20 years to enjoy and relax.”
“It’s kind of overwhelming because you work your whole life and then when it gets here it’s like phew,” Rathman said.
“If you saw the people coming this morning, you know them by name. You will miss her,” said customer Tracy Kunkel.
But probably no more than Rathman will miss her.
“The hardest thing will be missing my customers. It’s like leaving your family and going somewhere else,” Rathman said. “After they come in two or three times, I make an effort to know their names,” Kim said.
In nearly four decades of selling and shipping stamps and parcels, Rathman’s customers have become relatives, sharing good and bad news over the counter. Like when Rathman resigned after being diagnosed with cancer.
“My customers have been so great. The number of cards I got when I was free. Some people sent plants, others just greetings. It made it seem like you were making a difference and affecting everyone you meet,” Rathman said. “Some customers are surprised. They come up to me and ask how you remember my name. I try to make it a point. I have a job because of my clients.”
“Some of my best friends are clients. Get to know them somehow and now they hang together and it’s amazing. It’s more like family than clients,” Kim added.
As with the job itself, Rathman said she’s OK with changes.
“People email and fax and everything else. It never existed when I started,” Rathman said.
Some truth inside and outside the post.
“This winter will be nice. I can look out and watch the snow and not have to worry,” Rathman said.