Mail carrier makes final delivery

Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

Almost everyone knows the motto associated with the United States Post Office: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Familiar as the words are, they are not the official motto of the postal service, even though they certainly apply to most delivery men and women. Those familiar words actually trace to a Greek historian writing of Persian postal couriers delivering messages about 2,500 years ago.

He isn't a Persian, and he's never made his rounds on horseback as they did, but Scott McGinnity has lived that motto, delivering mail on local postal routes -- never in gloom of night, though -- where he came to be a familiar figure to generations of local residents. And his presence will surely be missed after he distributes letters, postcards, ads, magazines and bills for the last time on Aug. 3, when he'll drop off his last mail after nearly 39 years on the job.

Scott, who turns 57 in November, started in January 1974 as a mail handler at the airport, followed by working in special delivery for a year, eventually moving to the Bellevue branch in 1981.

"Until 1988, I was a floater, which meant I rotated on five routes when the regular letter carrier had a day off. I then bid the route at the Avalon Loop area, where I stayed until March 1991, before moving to my current route in Emsworth, where I have remained 21 years later," Scott said.

While the average person shifts jobs five to seven times over a lifetime, Scott says he will take good memories from his lifelong career in postal work.

"The best part has been all of the great friends I have made at the post office and on my mail route. The people have been so kind to me. They always offer me water, shelter from the storm, and food -- I don't have to be afraid to ask for anything. It has been an enjoyable route to be on these past 21 years."

Part of Scott's satisfaction with his job comes from "…being out on my own, doing a job outside and not being stuck in an office."

He admits that there have been a few downsides. "Delivering mail in the rain, thunder and lightning -- I think that is the worst weather condition. You can't stay dry. I am not really fond of extreme cold and heat."

But humorous moments have balanced out the tough times. He recalls delivering mail on a small hill in Avalon, when freezing rain came. "I had to use my mail bag as a make-shift sled to get down the hill. I laid it out and sat on it and slid down the hill."

And then there was his harrowing relationship with a bird that had built a nest under an awning.

"Every day when I delivered, it would dive-bomb at my head. I had to wear my plastic sun helmet for protection."

Dive-bombing birds, but not many problems with dogs, usually portrayed as being the arch enemies of postmen. Scott explained his method of avoiding canine encounters. "I was bitten by a dog only one time. My first line of defense was to try to keep my mail bag between me and the dog and yell at it. Second, was to use pepper spray, but I tried not to because I like dogs. Third, was to just start running!"

Walking approximately five miles per day kept Scott in great shape. The shoe-of-choice that kept him going? "Rocky Walker Athletic Oxford -- always such a comfortable shoe, but now it is discontinued. Good timing, because I won't need to wear them anymore!"

Good timing for Scott, but bad timing for Emsworth borough secretary Cathy Jones who spoke for residents when she said, "Everybody loves him. He looks out for everyone. He does more than just deliver the mail. He's just one of those good guys."

With free time beckoning, Scott has kept his future plans simple. "I hope to enjoy spending more time with my family and friends, go bike riding with my wife, sleep in more, avoid the rain and snow and find a part-time job."

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