It’s not just living somewhere that makes you part of a community, but when you spend nearly every day walking the streets of a neighborhood, sometimes that’s enough to make you one and the same.
This was the case for Mike Herrington, who recently retired from the U.S. Postal Service after nearly 32 years — 22 of which were spent on the same route in Valencia.
While half of his route consisted of curbside mailboxes, the other half required door-to-door delivery.
“As you’re coming up to a house, there are people outside and you introduce yourself and say hello and you get to know these people where you’re really becoming part of a family,” Herrington said.
Herrington really felt like he became part of the neighborhood, even vacationing and backpacking with some of the residents on his route.
“There’s just undeniably a bond between a lot of the families and myself because I do see them daily,” he added. “There were some customers that really felt like I was one of their neighbors.”
Herrington joined the USPS years ago just before he had a child when he needed a stable job with benefits.
And after nine years working in Woodland Hills, Herrington was able to secure a transfer to Santa Clarita where he lived.
As he began his route walking the hills in Valencia, he began to form bonds with the community.
“I treat everybody with respect… You say hello, you wave, they honk,” he said. “You’re there every day. They expect to see you.”
Herrington would notice things that happened in the neighborhood, whether it was when someone didn’t pick up their mail or left their garage door open, and would check in on them. And for some, Herrington became a staple in the community.
“There was a family on one of my streets where their young son wanted to be mailman Mike,” Herrington recalled. “He would be out there every day, and he would emulate the things I was doing like making mail deliveries.”
“You do a lot of extra things for people when you know them,” he added, noting that he and some of his regulars even set up a system where they’d set out orange cones on the sidewalk when they needed a package picked up.
Over the years, he saw many kids grow up and leave the house only to return unrecognizable.
“Kids would come back from college with beards and they look like completely different people,” Herrington said, chuckling. “It’s a crazy thing.”
Since he announced his retirement, he’s received an outpouring of thanks and well wishes, according to his wife Kelley, who said, “People adore him… His customers are so sad to see him leave.”
“It’s overwhelming. You know these people, and you see them frequently, but you don’t realize how much a part of their life that you are,” Herrington added, as he began to get emotional. “I have some of the best customers.”
While a little anxious about retiring and breaking his daily routine after all these years, Herrington is convinced he can keep himself busy and is looking forward to having more time to spend with his hobbies of music and hiking.