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On the job: Detroit Mechanic Anthony Lattimer

Maintenance Mechanic Anthony Lattimer holding equipment
Maintenance Mechanic Anthony Lattimer helps keep forklifts and other equipment moving at the Detroit Processing and Distribution Center.

I’m a maintenance mechanic at the Detroit Processing and Distribution Center. I maintain the battery room so that the forklifts and “tow bugs” always work the way they’re supposed to.

I tell people: Without batteries, the forklifts can’t work — and without the forklifts, the mail won’t move efficiently.

I usually start my day around 6 a.m. The first thing I do is set up my work area: Things have to be clean and organized. I then check to make sure all the batteries are fully charged and contain enough water.

I also keep the batteries clean because they can accumulate acid that will leave holes in your clothes. You have to wear safety equipment and pay attention to what you’re doing because safety is No. 1.

I’ve been with the Postal Service for almost 46 years. I first worked as a clerk, then as a mail handler, then as a supervisor. I became a mechanic in the 1980s. I had to take a test to get the job. Back then, the test was 8 hours long — 4 hours one day, 4 hours the next. Now you can take it in one sitting.

Of all the jobs I’ve had, I enjoy being a mechanic the most because I have to troubleshoot and that keeps my mind active. To give you an example, the mail handlers — the ones who operate the vehicles — come to me if something is wrong with their tow bugs or forklifts. I also help fix battery chargers and the hoist that picks the batteries out of the forklifts and tow bugs.

Technology has caused my job to change a lot. We have different machines now and have to go to Oklahoma for training whenever there’s a change with the technology.

The Postal Service has taken very good care of me and my family. I’m a single father with five kids — three girls, two boys — who all have college degrees. They do a variety of work. My oldest son has a doctorate degree and is a college professor. My youngest daughter is an accountant.

When I’m not working, I’m just a granddad. I have seven grandkids: My oldest is 24 and my youngest is almost 1. I pick my youngest ones up from school and we go bowling or to the movies.

One of the questions I get asked all the time from people, including management, is what’s going to happen with the battery room when I retire. I tell them: “For now I like my job. That’s why I’ve been here so long.”

“On the job,” a new series on individual employees and their contributions to the Postal Service, will appear regularly in Link.

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