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Billings or bust

One carrier allows fate to choose his home and another marks 60 years of service

A male letter carrier smiling and standing outside a postal vehicle
Donald Gates, a Billings, MT, letter carrier, allowed Google to choose his home.

When Donald Gates felt the need for a life change last September, he did the digital equivalent of throwing a dart at a map of the United States.

The carrier technician, who was based in Portsmouth, NH, typed “pick a random city in America” into a Google search field. The electronic genie offered links to random city generator websites.

When he clicked on one of those, the answer appeared: Billings, MT.

“The next day, I went into work, logged onto eReassign and submitted my transfer,” Gates said. “A few weeks later, I packed a moving truck with some clothes, my truck, my motorcycle and my cat, and we hit the road.”

The change of scene seems to have done him good.

“A lightness has returned to me, my smile has come back,” Gates said. “Just an overall positive vibe.”

April will mark his 11th year with USPS. He started as a city carrier assistant in 2013 and three years later converted to a career employee.

His favorite part of the job is the people — co-workers, customers and passersby on the street.

“Interacting with a community and being a part of someone’s day — there just aren’t words to express how important that is,” he said.

‘If the job doesn’t fit, you must quit’

Charles Lewis, an Oakland, CA, letter carrier, recently marked almost 60 years of federal service.

Lewis began his postal career in 1965 as a mail handler, then left to attend college and later, to serve in the military during the Vietnam War.

He resumed his postal career in 1971, this time as a letter carrier.

“I say, ‘If the job doesn’t fit, you must quit,’” Lewis said.

“If this job isn’t right for you, don’t just stay on the job and collect a paycheck. You need to quit and find another job that you’re passionate about. We have an inheritance from those who rode during the Pony Express. What we do is that important and we owe it to them to do a good job.”

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