It might be an understatement to call Cody Hershaw dependable.
The United States Postal Service carrier has never been late to work in his 48 years on the job. He’s missed five days of work, four of which came last year after he had a left knee replacement. Hershaw, 76, has never been involved in an accident at work, either.
“I’m lucky,” Hershaw of Vancouver said. “You have to watch. People don’t watch or stop at stop signs.”
For his 48 years of accident-free work, Hershaw was named by the National Safety Council as one of the nation’s seven safest U.S. Postal Service drivers. Each of the postal service’s seven areas has a safest driver honoree, and Hershaw was named the Western Area’s safest driver. The Western Area encompasses 15 states, according to Tyrone Williams, district manager of the East Vancouver post office where Hershaw works.
On Friday, postal service employees from the area and many of Hershaw’s co-workers celebrated his award, many yelling his mantra back at him: “here and loving it.”
Hershaw’s co-workers are younger than him, but he still has one of the larger mail routes from his post office. He has previous experience as the oldest person in a group. In 1967, Hershaw was drafted into the Army for the Vietnam War.
“I showed up for training on my 26th birthday, and I was surrounded by 18 year olds,” he said. “It wasn’t a fun way to spend a birthday.”
Hershaw said his age doesn’t bother him, and he gets along with all his co-workers.
“He made my job easy,” said Carmen Arthur, who was manager of the Vancouver post office where Hershaw worked for 25 years. “His attitude is contagious.”
She’s not the only one who felt that way.
“It’s motivating,” said Nicole Ceron, Hershaw’s granddaughter. “You think about him and if he doesn’t call out sick, how can I justify calling out of work?”
Ceron, 25, of Vancovuer said she remembers going over to Hershaw’s house growing up and him always getting home from work around 6 p.m., although on some days she had already seen him.
“My mom and I would go find him on his route sometimes,” she said. “We’d find him and give him milkshakes.”
For as long as Ceron could remember, she would also playfully punch Hershaw in the stomach a few times while he flexed his biceps for good luck. She said he’s always in a good mood.
Arthur said the same thing. She said Hershaw is always upbeat, and whenever he would see her looking stressed out, he’d ask how he could help. She left the Vancouver office earlier this year to take a position in Ridgefield, and before leaving recommended Hershaw for the award.
“It was a way of saying goodbye to him and thanking him,” she said.
It’s not the first honor he’s received from the postal service. Hershaw has already received the Expert Driver Award and his Million Miles plaque, given to drivers who have drive more than 1 million miles for the postal service. Hershaw received his plaque about 20 years ago and has driven slightly less than 2 million miles. He has also accrued more than 4,000 hours of sick leave.
Next up, Hershaw will attend the National Safety Council award ceremony on Sept. 26 in Indianapolis, with a chance to be named as the top driver of the year nationwide.
After that, Hershaw said he plans on working another few years.
“I want to get to 50,” he said.