Best mailman ever. The mailman of all mailmen. A gem of a human being. One of a kind. Irreplaceable.
Those are just a handful of the accolades that residents of the Las Palmas neighborhood in Sunnyvale have poured onto Salvador “Sal” Vasquez, surely in person and definitely in a petition that went around about a year and a half ago.
That petition was circulated in protest of Vasquez potentially getting reassigned to a different block. But at the end of December, the 64-year-old Vasquez clocked in one last time, hanging up his battered sneakers that had taken him close to 10 miles a day as he stuffed no less than 370 mailboxes along his route.
Vasquez retired from the U.S. Postal Service at the end of December after nearly 33 years. Only now is it dawning upon him how strenuous his job really was: “That was a lot of walking, you know?”
Well, it wasn’t always walking he was doing; sometimes the job required light jogging and even some marathon running. Vasquez recalled a time when a dog he’d known—and lovingly petted—for eight years suddenly turned on him. He had reached over the gate to give the dog’s owner, an elderly woman holding a walker, her mail when her pet—Vasquez guesses it was a collie—jumped up and bit his hand, resulting in one of his nails completely coming off. As Vasquez tells it, the dog then managed to open the gate and chase him around the street.
Once the situation was diffused and Vasquez had a chance to recollect himself, ever the professional, he continued on his route, going to the hospital four hours later after he’d finished.
“I kept on going,” he said. “What the heck. The mail must go through, you know.”