Friday, June 18, 2021
June 18, 2021

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Working in Clark County: Cody Hershaw, mail carrier with USPS

By , Columbian Staff writer, news assistant
Published:
4 Photos
U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Cody Hershaw looks down the street as he gets back into his delivery car on a recent Thursday while on a route in the Cascade neighborhoods in Vancouver.
U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Cody Hershaw looks down the street as he gets back into his delivery car on a recent Thursday while on a route in the Cascade neighborhoods in Vancouver. (joshua hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The U.S. Postal Service had a doozy of a year.

It endured a period of chaos during the presidential election, in which an unprecedented 46 percent of Americans voted by mail, according to the Pew Research Center. Now, the federal agency is slammed by a “historic record” of mail and packages, according to a Dec. 14 news release. The reason? A huge rise in online shopping during the pandemic.

Vancouver has felt the effects.

“We’re about 64 percent (more parcels) over the same period last year,” said acting Postmaster of Vancouver Trisha Adams. “It’s big. We didn’t get extra staffing for that extra volume. We didn’t get holiday help.”

Adams said the hands they do have are all on deck. That includes 79-year-old Cody Hershaw, a 50-year post office employee in Vancouver who has a nationally recognized safety record.

Though he has heard murmurs from fellow employees wanting to leave during the chaos, Hershaw has a motto of his own: “I always say, ‘I’m here, and I’m loving it.'”

He started his job on Aug. 6, 1969, just after serving in the Vietnam War as a mechanic and machine gunner between 1967 and 1968, he said.

East Vancouver Post Office

401 N.E. 136th Ave., Vancouver.

www.usps.com

• Number of employees: 120 mail carriers at east Vancouver.

• Bureau of Labor Statistics job outlook: The bureau projected employment of postal service workers to decline by 14 percent through 2029, according to May 2019, pre-pandemic data. "Automated sorting systems, cluster mailboxes, and tight budgets are expected to adversely affect employment," the bureau reported. "Some job openings will result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation or the labor force, but strong competition should be expected as the number of applicants typically exceeds the number of available positions." The average salary for a postal service worker in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore., metro area was $24.69 per hour or $51,360 per year, according to May 2019 data. Hershaw said he earns $65,300 per year.

“There was a guy over in Vietnam. He said he worked for the post office. He said, ‘When you get back, take a (post office) test; it’s a good job.’ That’s what I did. I took the test at Bonneville Power, then the post office called.”

Since then, Hershaw has seen many changes to the U.S. Postal Service.

Early on, he said, some carriers drove a three-wheeled scooter to deliver mail. Then, he used a Jeep. Now, residents on Hershaw’s usual 14-mile route will find him in a white Mercedes Metris van. Working a typical five-day week, no matter the weather, Hershaw delivers parcels to 1,051 homes, including residents at Touchmark at Fairway Village, he said.

“This Christmas, I see people mailing a lot more cards than they have in years,” he said. “They can’t go see anybody. I suppose they can do it on the internet, but a card is more personal than the internet.”

Hershaw had no worry about the rise in mail. He also didn’t fret about the election.

“You know we’ve been doing it for years here, and we never had a problem. I think more people would vote if the whole country voted by mail. It’s more convenient. You don’t have to wait in line,” Hershaw said. “People, they come and ask, ‘Is the mail safe?’ I say it’s safer than you going down somewhere else. I think it’s all a bunch of crap. Somebody’s a sore loser I guess and has to create problems.”

porch Lights on

Acting Postmaster of Vancouver Trisha Adams said it's too late to mail Christmas packages on time, but one thing that could help for packages already in the mail is for people to keep their porch lights on and have a clear address number on their home. This could prevent some delays. "Sometimes we're delivering late in the evening or early in the morning. It can be difficult to see the address," she said.

As for the future, Hershaw said he “could have retired 20 years ago.”

“Outside of going to the casino once in a while, not much (planned),” he said. “Do a slot machine and have a couple beers. I don’t have a house in Southern California or Arizona or wherever. I’ll work as long as I’m able to.”

The future for postal carrier work is a bit bleak with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasting a 14-percent decline in employment due to automation and installation of cluster mailboxes, something Hershaw has taken notice to over his years with the agency. But he doesn’t think it will cease to exist.

“I think it’s an essential thing; there should always be a post office,” he said. “I know automation will take a lot of things, but it’s still a useful tool, especially for people getting medicine. I deal with a lot of medicine by mail. Fairway Village is a 55-and-older community. I deliver a lot of pills by mail. I think it’s essential.”

WORKING IN CLARK COUNTY

Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Lyndsey Hewitt: lyndsey.hewitt@columbian.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

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