Carole Chadler is familiar to most Gardner residents because she has been working as a clerk at the Gardner Post Office since the 1980’s. She is retiring soon, after 33 years of service at the post office. Staff photo by Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Long time postal clerk retiring after 33 years in Gardner
Carole Chandler is a longtime Gardner resident and a familiar face to many people in the community. She has been working at the Gardner Post Office since 1985 and is now retiring after 33 years of service.
She was originally hired by the Gardner Post Office as a part time clerk and mail carrier, working about 15 hours a week. She’s worked under four different postmasters during her career.
With the exception of three months at the Edgerton Post Office, where she worked as officer in charge during an interim period, all of her career has been at the Gardner PO.
Chandler grew up in Olathe and remained there for the first six years of her employment. She got married in 1989 and moved to Gardner in 2001. She’s raised two kids here, who are now in their mid twenties.
From the beginning, the job at the post office seemed like a natural fit for her.
“I grew up with the post office. My father used to work for the post office, and my brother used to work for the post office until he retired,” she said.
She recalls dressing nicely for her original interview. Later, after she had been on the job for a while, she heard that one of the interviewers had noted the nice outfit she was wearing, as well as her long fingernails and had commented that she looked “too girly,” and might not be prepared to handle the hard work.
“Here it is 33 years later, so never judge a person by their looks,” she says with a chuckle.
Like most every post office employee who has worked as a carrier, she remembers a dog biting her once in the early years.
“He just kind of sneaked up on me while I was talking to the customer and bit me on the calf. I just said, ‘uh, he just bit me,” she recalls, adding there was more shock involved than pain.
Chandler remembers when her first postmaster had a heart attack and how that scared her. As a result she learned CPR, so she would be ready to help in an emergency situation.
Back in the early days a lot of the work was done by hand. Things have changed over the years, and now almost everything involves some kind of computer work. She says the technology improvements have been really good.
She’s seen people mail all manner of things in her three decades of work.
She recalls handling a big box once that had a grown rooster inside, crowing loudly. Another time, a container burst open and a mass of worms spilled out all over the floor, which she had to clean up.
“That was nasty!” she says. “There’s just never a dull moment. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone will bring in something else, and you just go… ooo-kay?”
Working at the post office is harder work than people might assume. Years of standing on hard floors and handling packages accumulates and results in wear and tear on a person’s body. Chandler is still wearing bandages from recent surgery on her hand to repair carpal tunnel syndrome damage.
Over the years, she’s had to learn how to stay calm with angry customers who sometimes lose their temper, sometimes cursing and calling her names.
Holidays, especially Christmas, add extra stress to postal workers busy jobs – so much so that that it takes away from them being able to enjoy the holiday like almost everyone else. Chandler says one of the things she looks forward to in being able to enjoy Christmas away from the hectic activity at the post office.
On the flip side, one of the best things about her years at the post office has been getting to know regular customers and watching their children grow up.
“I’m going to miss my customers. I’ve had a lot of customers who come in with their cute little babies that I’ve watched get older. I’ve watched them grow up and seen some have kids of their own now. One little girl really touched my heart when she told her mother that when she got older she wanted to come work at the post office with Carole,” she says.
She says people come up to her when she is out in public places, like restaurants and the airport, and say ‘I know you from somewhere but just can’t figure out where,’ and she just says ‘post office’ and then it registers with them immediately.
“It’s been nice to be able to help people who don’t know how to get their packages to where they need to go, especially the elderly, you know, gotta take care of them,” Chandler said.
After retirement she plans to travel a little to see relatives and visit other parts of the country.
“I told my husband he can’t retire yet because he’s got to make money, and I like to spend money,” she jokes. Her husband runs his own construction company.
She also enjoys doing party planning for small events, like parties and baby showers, and probably will do more of that now that she will more time.
There will be a retirement party for Carole Chandler on Aug. 3 from 3-7 p.m. at Austin’s Bar and Grill, and it is open to the public.