Canada’s Most Enthusiastic Postal Employee

By Cam Mather

I love living in a small town. I love knowing who my neighbors are. I love knowing all of the merchants in town where I choose to spend my money. There’s Kim and Larry at the grocery store, Tim at the video store, Kulwant at the hardware store, Marg in the Tea Room and Robert at the bookstore, just to name a few. Tamworth is a great town with great people.

We even have Canada’s Most Enthusiastic Postal Employee, Katie MacDonald. Now there’s a story here that starts with my cousin Dave Flett who is a chartered accountant, and a frustrated stand up comedian. This sounds a bit like a Monty Python sketch in which an accountant comes into a career counselor’s office and announces that he wants to be a “lion tamer” in keeping with his formal training. Many years ago, Dave was working for a large accounting firm in Toronto and his firm sponsored a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation called “Canada’s Funniest Accountant.” You’ve got to admit it’s a great premise. Just in case you are unaware of the stereotype, accountants have a bit of a reputation for being boring and not having a sense of humor. So having a contest where you try and find the funniest out of a group of unfunny people is hilarious. This was years before any of these reality TV shows came along.

I didn’t attend the event but it sounds like there were some pretty brilliant sketches, including one group of performers who danced to a song that was popular at the time… “I’m, too sexy for this shirt, too sexy for these pants.” These are accountants remember.

Turns out Dave won the competition! I wasn’t surprised because he’s always been a pretty funny guy. The line from his sketch that I can still remember was his first line and it went something like this.. “Hello, I’m Dave Flett, a contestant to be Canada’s Funniest Chartered Accountant, which ranks right up there with “Canada’s Most Enthusiastic Postal Employee.”

Now I don’t want to disparage postal employees, but some of them can be a little surly. I’m sure it’s tough working with mail all day, and dealing with fickle customers. So when you meet someone who completely disproves the stereotype, they shine like a shooting star. And that’s our Katie at the Tamworth Post Office. Katie is the happiest, cheeriest, sweetest retail employee on the planet, and get this, she works for Canada Post! It’s a miracle.

Katie is chipper and bubbly every day that you see her. She never has one of those “I’m in a pissy mood days”. She doesn’t talk speak negatively about people. She is just a great human being.

In a small town like Tamworth, the large and bureaucratic Canada Post tries to save money while providing as much service as they can. Our post office is open 5-1/2 days a week, Monday to Friday as well as Saturday morning. In order to spread out these hours they close the post office from between 11:45 am and 2:15 pm everyday. It’s one of the worst examples of bureaucratic stupidity I’ve ever encountered. Someday I’ll tell you what I really think of it in person. I’ve written letters to Canada Post and spoken to the folks in charge, but they aren’t budging.

Of course these are prime hours for us to do our shipping. As we receive book orders in the morning we package them up ready to take them to the post office. Customers are usually pretty anxious to get their orders promptly and we make a point of shipping within 24 hours of receiving an order. We also know that the truck arrives in Tamworth in the middle of the afternoon, and so if we don’t get to the post office in time, our packages will be delayed by a day. So we have to time our visit to the post office in such a way as to avoid the 2-1/2 hours that they are closed in the middle of the day, but be sure to get there before the truck arrives. Sometimes we have other plans that get in the way. Katie is great. If we call her and tell her when we will be in, she’ll often make a point of opening the door just for us. That’s right. She belongs to one of the most powerful unions in Canada and yet she’ll come back early from lunch. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe this is really happening.

So last month Aztext Press presented Katie with our first (and probably our only) Postal Employee of the Decade Award. Katie really deserves it. Shipping books is a huge part of our business and Katie is incredibly helpful in this regard. She takes what could be one of those tasks you dread, like going to the dentist, and turns it into something you look forward to. Isn’t that amazing?

This should be everyone’s goal in life. I’d never make it because I’m way too bi-polar. Flying high and bouncing off the walls one day, ready to jump off a bridge the next. But at least I acknowledge this and try and stay clear of humanity when I’m being a jerk. Katie MacDonald is consistently wonderful. Katie is building up good karma in this life. She’s on a path I want to emulate.

We sent a Press Release about our award to the local media and it got some great coverage. Poor Katie was embarrassed by all of the accolades, as you might expect her to be. But ever since the story hit the local papers, lots of people in Tamworth have said to me “Great award, way to go! Katie deserves recognition!” In other words, it’s not just me. Everyone gets it. Katie is a gem and we all know it.

Small towns have lots of characters. You might have heard of Super Solar Man who predicts the end of the oil age and drags solar powered bubble machines through the streets in the Canada Day parade. And we have a postal employee who defies all stereotypes to make her customers’ day a little shinier. So often when I’m in the post office there will be a line up of people and half of them are there to just buy one stamp. I used to wonder why more people didn’t just buy a book of ten stamps, or whatever, to avoid having to come to the Post Office to buy them one at a time. Now I get it. They want an excuse to come to the post office. Now that’s an accomplishment! Thanks Katie!

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One Response to “Canada’s Most Enthusiastic Postal Employee”

  • Carolyn Butts:

    Thanks Cam. As a recipient of your generous accolades, I need to say it makes all the difference to be noticed. In a world of increasing self focus consumers, those who serve might be appreciated but rarely get deserving acknowledgment.
    If we could all tell anyone who is doing a great job, “hey, thanks for doing a great job”, we could
    have your dream of a blissful service industry. Maybe just more smiles, that would be nice.

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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