Post office clerk to retire after 31 years
Mukilteo will say goodbye to a familiar face at the post office tomorrow.
After nearly 16 years working there as a window clerk, Pamela Schroeder is retiring so that she can raise her granddaughter. Her last day of work is Jan. 31.
Schroeder, 54, of Coupeville, who calls herself “just the lady at the post office,” has brought countless smiles to customers as she helped them mail their packages, buy stamps or get a P.O. box.
When she retires, Schroeder will have worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 31 years, four months and 12 days – she remembers the exact number of days because it says so on her retirement paperwork.
She’s gotten very attached to some of her customers over the years. She has too many favorites to count. She’s watched many of them get married, have babies, see those children off to college – and some of them move or pass away.
“You kind of get to the point where you know them so well that you’re closer than family sometimes,” she said. “I’m about choking up, up at the window sometimes.”
Schroeder wasn’t always behind the front counter. She started as a carrier in California, and did that for four years. When she and her husband moved to New York, Schroeder decided she didn’t like delivering mail in the snow and came inside.
She’s transferred seven times to post offices in California, New York, back to California, Maine and lastly to Mukilteo in 1997.
“It’s the best office I’ve worked in, absolutely the best,” Schroeder said of the Mukilteo office. “The customers make all the difference in the world.”
About 20,000 other USPS employees will be retiring with Schroeder due to an early-out incentive. She was going to wait until she was 55, but decided to retire now.
“A lot of us older people are seeing it’s time to go,” she said. “All of the post offices are slowing down, all of them. People aren’t sending mail. Everything is being done online.”
She can remember Christmases where the line for the front counter wrapped all the way to the back of the post office. She doesn’t see anything like that anymore.
“I’m going to cry on Thursday when I say goodbye to my customers,” said Schroeder, who will be wearing street clothes that day. “I’m really going to miss the job – but I’m not going to miss the commute.”
Schroeder gets up at 5 a.m. to drop her granddaughter off at the babysitter’s and make the ferry from Whidbey Island to Mukilteo before she starts work at 9 a.m. Then she gets off work at 5:30 p.m. and doesn’t get home until 8 p.m.
“[My granddaughter] spends 12 hours a day at the babysitter’s, which is too long,” she said.
Pamela and Bill Schroeder adopted granddaughter Heidi Joy on Oct. 31, 2011. Heidi, now 5, had come to live with the couple when she was 13 months old.
She will start kindergarten in September, and Schroeder wants to be there for her.
Heidi’s father is in the U.S. Merchant Marine and is gone 11 months out of the year, so he can’t take care of her. Her mother is “out of the picture,” Schroeder said.
“I’m mom again,” she said. “She doesn’t call me ‘Grandma,’ she calls me ‘Mom.’ I’m the only mom she knows.”
Her co-workers and boss said they’re going to miss Schroeder, but that they’re happy for her.
“She knows most of the customers on a first-name basis, so she’ll be missed by a lot,” Post Master Michael Lyons said. “I think [retirement] is going to be real good for her, mainly because of the commute… she’ll be able to spend more time with her granddaughter.”
Patsy Rodriguez said she and the other clerks won’t know what to do without her because Schroeder knows more about P.O. boxes than anyone else in the office. The boxes are her specialty.
“The two of us close at night usually, so it’s going to be hard to have her go,” Rodriguez said. “She is someone who is fun to work with, she’s become a friend. I just wish her well.”
Say goodbye: Schroeder will be on the other side of the counter on Jan. 31 with coffee and cake for customers who stop by to wish her well. The post office will be open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It would sure be nice to see as many of my customers to say goodbye to as I can,” she said. “I am going to miss them all so much.”