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Seasons of life

On the Job: Carrier has seen customers grow

West Chicago, IL, Rural Carrier Trea Ratliff loading a truck
West Chicago, IL, Rural Carrier Trea Ratliff enjoys providing reliable service to her customers.

My name is Trea Ratliff, and I’m a rural carrier in West Chicago, IL. I deliver mail and packages to about 630 business and residential customers each workday.

I begin my day by sorting the mail and parcels I’ll deliver, then I listen to our office’s daily stand-up talk. Next, I do a safety check on my vehicle before hitting the road. I then make my deliveries before returning to the office to dispatch the mail and packages I collected.

My Postal Service career began 41 years and three months ago. I started as a 90-day casual employee before becoming a substitute rural carrier and finally a rural carrier. I met my husband, Tim, at work. He worked one route and I worked another — the same route I work today. We’ve been married for 34 years.

The job has changed a lot. Everything used to be sorted by hand. There was no automation of mail. When I started, I would get 10 parcels per day, with no scanning. Now I get 150-200 daily packages — and I scan each one at the point of delivery.

Part of my job is watching out for my customers. Eight years ago, I was recognized through the Postmaster General’s Heroes’ Program for rescuing a customer who had fallen because of a stroke. That customer is still alive and I give him a fruit basket every Christmas.

I’ve enjoyed providing mail service to customers as they have gone through different seasons of life. For example, a baby is born and they get packages. Then those kids grow up and go off to college and I pick up care packages from parents who send goodies to their kids. My customers have enjoyed my consistent presence and reliable service through many years of changes.

When I’m not at work, I enjoy going to the gym, spending time at my parents’ summer home in Minnesota and being with family and friends. Tim and I have four children: a daughter who is a social worker, another who is a chemist and two sons in high school.

The Postal Service has helped us provide for our children. I’ve watched a lot of non-postal friends get laid off from their jobs, but USPS has kept me employed all these years.

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

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