Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Six months after retiring from his career as a U.S. Postal worker, current Swarthmore post office worker Russ Quann “was going stir crazy.” So when he heard about an opening at the college post office from his neighbor, he quickly said yes.
“I couldn’t take retirement,” Quann said.
“It’s something to do,” said John Steel, his co-worker of shorter stature. “It keeps us out of trouble–most of the time.”
Quann and Steel, from their nook in Parrish’s Shane Lounge, observe a great deal about the school and students that may go unnoticed to passers-by.
While a lot of student mail is from the college, groups on campus or family, Quann and Steel, who have worked here for eight and 14 years respectively, have seen their fair share of strange packages.
“We get all sizes and shapes,” said Steel, “big long cartons, and bicycles.”
“Yeah,” Quann added, “ a lot of bicycles.”
“And animals,” said Steel, “for the biology classes.”
Both Steel and Quann delivered mail to individual departments before working at the counter; Quann began working at the counter only a year ago. Manning the counter means working more directly with students than in their other positions.
For Steel, “talking with the students and trying to keep them calm and smiling” has become his favorite part of his job.
“If we can keep them happy,” Steel said, “they’re all right.”
According to Quann and Steel, the best time to visit the post office is in the afternoon, after the mail has arrived and been distributed to mailboxes.
The college post office isn’t an official U.S. Postal Service post office. However, it offers many of the same services, excluding only money orders, registered mail and insured mail.
Quann and Steel, who are both retired U.S. Postal workers, enjoy the company of their co-workers as well as their boss Vince Vagnozzi, who Steel insists is “the main man.”
With a good boss and nice co-workers, Steel said that his least favorite part of his job is walking in from the parking lot when it’s raining.
“If I had a least [favorite part],” said Quann, “I wouldn’t be here.”