THAMESVILLE – From surprising a goose in a mailbox to white-knuckle drives through blowing snow on back roads around this East Kent community, Betsy March has seen a lot in the more than half-century she’s served as a rural route mail carrier.
Friday marked the final day she travelled her route as a Canada Post employee.
“I’m really nervous. I’m shaking and I just hope I can get through it,” March, 75, said during an interview with The Chatham Daily News prior to heading to make her final deliveries.
She began delivering mail on Nov. 1, 1968, following in the footsteps of her mother, Betty Cofell. She did her first route for 11 years until another one became available in 1979. Then, 20 years later, she returned to her original 84-kilometre route and its 215 mailboxes.
“The people are so nice. I’ve made a lot of friends,” saidA March, adding she’s delivered mail to four generations of some families.
She’s also had some amusing and memorable moments on the job.
“A goose was in a mailbox when I opened it up,” March said. “It just flew out, but not at me.”
She also recalled the time a young man chased her down the road in his vehicle, shouting: “Betsy, Betsy, Betsy, smell me.”
She said he had been sprayed by a skunk but, since some of the spray got into is nostrils, he couldn’t tell.
Doing her five-day-a-week route, and many years working Saturdays as well, March has gone through several vehicles.
“I’ve taken off many right-hand mirrors,” she said.
While the job requires working during the winter, there’s one weather condition that puts her on edge.
“I’m not going to kid you, I’m scared in the blowing snow,” March said.
She used special glasses with yellow lenses to help see better in those conditions. She added rural route carriers are not required to go out if its not safe.
Other than some technological advances, March said the job is essentially the same.
Fellow rural route mail carrier Laura Wright said she brought her good friend and co-worker “kicking and screaming” into the modern age by training her on the PDT (personal data terminal) used to scan parcels.
“I trained her no matter how hard she hated it,” Wright said.
The two have only worked together for five years, but Wright said, “I love it – from Day 1, her and I clicked.”
Noting that March is affectionately known as “my Momma Bets,” Wright said they often came into work early just to talk.
“Now, I’m not going to have that,” Wright said.
Although March is heading into retirement, she “can’t think that far ahead.”
She and her husband Charlie have a trailer by Lake Erie they plan to spend more time at once the restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic ease up.
“The first summer I can go out (all the time) and now we can’t go,” she said.