Zachary Sherrod hung up his U.S. Postal Service uniform for the last time. Delivering mail in the rain, snow, sleet and hail since 1980, the beloved mail carrier starts each morning with the alarm clock off because he is officially retired.
The 61-year-old Beloit native said the decision was bittersweet.
In a telephone interview, Sherrod explained how working at the post office was not his first choice. After giving factory jobs a try, he said he realized he needed to find a different occupation.
“There was nothing out there when I tried to find a job,” Sherrod said. “I heard the post office was doing some hiring and since I was a vet, I got extra points from being a veteran. So, I took the test and that’s how I ended up in the post office.”
One of the beneficial parts of his job was the customers he got to know day after day and building long relationships.
“I had this family that lived on the corner of a busy street and the kids walked from school every day,” Sherrod said. “Their mom always met them. One time she didn’t meet them because she must have been running late and one of the little boys says, ‘Zach can you help me get the key out of the garage’ because it was up too high for him. And he knew where the spare key was in the garage so I had to get the key for him and unlock the door and once they got in a few minutes later their mom shows up and thanks me. I watched those kids grow up.”
Unlike most postal workers, Sherrod had five different routes, which expanded his reach of customers he served. Known as reliable and someone who conducts himself with the utmost honesty and integrity, the comradery with the colleagues are equally memorable.
“I’ll miss the customers and everyone I knew,” said Sherrod, a Beloit Memorial High School alum and former U.S. Marines. “I’ll miss watching their kids grow up because most of them had families and I’ll miss all the older people I knew as well.”
The years of walking on concrete and carrying bulks of mail and packages ̶ no matter the weather ̶ began to wear on his body.
“The things that I won’t miss about the job is that the mail is very dry so my fingers would get very dry,” he said. “I won’t miss the cold, I won’t miss the packages and working late at night. It’s hard, I sat in a truck all day because I did curbside delivery so that puts a toll on your back because you’re sitting there all day long for seven hours driving. It can give you shoulder problems and you do a lot of repetitive stuff with your hands so I ended up having problems with my fingers from grasping mail all the time.”
Sherrod plans to travel with his wife and spend time with his 23 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.