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Cultivating kindness

This postmaster walks the walk when it comes to helping customers

Smiling woman stands in Post Office lobby
Postmaster Arlene Harper stands in the Simpsonville, MD, Post Office.

My name is Arlene Harper and I’m the postmaster in Simpsonsville, MD, a Baltimore suburb.

One of my favorite aspects of the job is interacting with customers. I’m a working postmaster; I work the window, and some customers become like family after a while. You build a rapport.

Every day is different. As I tell my retail associates, we don’t know what people are going through when they walk through those doors. Just be kind, smile and give the best service you can give.

I started with USPS as a part-time flex automation clerk in 1998 at the Dulles, VA, Processing and Distribution Center. After 90 days, I became an acting supervisor. I supervised bundle sorters and got to see how the mail came in — a little bit of everything. It’s an experience everyone should have.

I transferred to the customer services side around 2003, starting as a retail associate in Columbia, MD. I then became a supervisor at several Post Offices and completed detail assignments as an officer in charge before becoming Simpsonville’s postmaster in 2015.

I enjoy being a mentor for my employees, and I am always looking for ways to improve my operation.

My greatest accomplishment is my children. Having a job at the Postal Service enabled me to take care of them. When I started at the Dulles plant, I had two young sons. Working the overnight shift meant I was able to make their breakfast and pick them up from school before I headed to work.

It also helped me put them through school — both now have master’s degrees.

When I’m not at work, you might find me watching a rom-com or working on my Barbie collection.

Barbie teaches women and girls you can be anything you want to be, and so does USPS. The opportunities to learn and grow through the Postal Service are endless.

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