Adeoye Ladipo loves his job with a rare and vivid kind of enthusiasm.
He’s a Woodinville mail carrier and a well-known face around the 540 houses and 28 businesses he delivers to on a daily basis.
“We get comments all the time from people on his route that they just love him,” said Lisa Curtis, a window and distribution clerk at the Woodinville Post Office.
Originally from Nigeria, Ladipo has been working for the Woodinville Post Office for years, and became a full-time carrier about three years ago.
Prior to his current position, Ladipo worked as a nurse. “One of my patients thought I had the gift to relate to people,” he said. That patient suggested that Ladipo try out for the postal service.
“It’s been exciting to get to know people, their culture,” he said. “I love Woodinville.”
Ladipo talks about his work with sincere deference and respect. The mail he delivers isn’t just a stack of papers. It is something to be protected, safe-guarded. “Like a baby,” he said.
As much as those on his route enjoy their mail carrier’s gregarious presence (they affectionately call him Ade, pronounced “Ah-dee”), Ladipo might enjoy theirs even more.
“I like coming to work every day just to see the people,” he said. “They depend on you. They rely on you. You don’t want to break that trust.”
Curtis is another of the post office’s dedicated workers. She relocated to Woodinville from Salem, Oregon to take a job as a clerk and is now in her second year.
“I like it as much as when I started, if not more so,” she said. “The longer you’ve been there, the more you understand the more complicated aspects of it. There’s always something new to learn.”
She works both as a dispatch clerk, shipping out mail and packages that need to be sent to Seattle for processing, and as a window clerk, helping customers with stamps and mailing.
“I like the idea of mailing, helping people’s packages get to where they need to go,” Curtis said. “It’s always different.”
Another part of the job she appreciates are the regular customers. Some people come in every week, some even every day.
“We know them by name, and they know us,” Curtis said. “Some of the customers that come in tell us that they like that they can come in and actually talk to somebody.”
The Postal Service is one of the oldest institutions in the country. George Washington signed the Postal Service Act, which established the United States Post Office Department, in 1792. At that time, there were only 75 post offices in operation.
Today, there are about 31,000. That number reached its peak in the early 1900s and has been dwindling ever since. And in an increasingly digital world, that isn’t the only number that has been shrinking over time.
According to the U.S. Postal Service website, both annual revenue and mail volume have decreased slightly over the last decade. In 2006, almost 700,000 people were employed with the postal service. In 2015, that number had dropped to less than 500,000.
Still, it’s hard to envision a world without brick and mortar post offices. Despite changes to the mailing industry, the United States Postal Service still delivers over 154 billion pieces of mail each year. That’s 47 percent of the world’s mail.
“There’s just something nostalgic about the post office,” Curtis said. “It’s been around for so long that I couldn’t imagine it going away. I wouldn’t want it to.”