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Constantly moving

On the job: Duluth, GA, Mail Handler James L. Etchison

Duluth, GA, Mail Handler James Etchison
Duluth, GA, Mail Handler James L. Etchison helps USPS keep the mail moving.

I’m a mail handler at the North Metro Processing and Distribution Center in Duluth, GA. It’s a large facility that processes mail from Atlanta to Tennessee.

My shift is weekdays from 3-11:30 p.m. It’s my responsibility to collect mail that is dropped off at our facility’s Postal Store, as well as mail that is dropped off curbside. I’m like a shark, moving back and forth. If you’re not constantly moving the mail, it will pile up.

I believe attendance is essential when striving to render above average service as a postal worker. That’s why I have a balance of more than 1,500 hours of sick leave.

I try to operate by a higher standard. I don’t just do enough to get by. Supervisors know that I will do whatever is required to fulfill my service as a mail handler.

I’ve been on this shift, also known as “tour 3,” since I became a postal worker 30 years ago. My wife, Iris, and I have two lovely daughters, and working tour 3 allowed me to be home when they were growing up. After my daughters finished school, I decided to stay on the tour because as my father used to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

When I’m not on the job, I serve in my church as an assistant pastor. In 1988, I was called into the ministry. God has established me to be his servant. Our pastor has been ill for a couple of years, so I am serving as the pastor now.

I’m 70 years old. Before the Postal Service, I spent three years in the Army. I was set to retire about a year and a half ago, but I was given an opportunity to work at the Postal Store. I felt it was a blessing and canceled my retirement plans. I plan to work at the store for several more years to use the income to pay off our mortgage.

The Postal Service is a great organization. It has unlimited opportunities for anyone that desires to take advantage of them. Working here has been a blessing. I couldn’t ask for a better situation. 

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

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