40-year postal worker honored, plans to continue

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Aledo Postmaster Jennifer Clark held a special recognition for 40-year employee Charlie Douglas on Friday, Oct. 31, 2008.

Charlie Douglas claims to have lived a very mundane life, but anyone who knows him, knows better. He was surprised Friday, Oct. 31, 2008, with a pizza breakfast party and special announcement from his boss Jennifer Clark, Aledo Postmaster. Clark read a proclamation and handed Douglas a 40-year ruby pin from the postal service, for his time with the company.

Douglas says he has been a postal clerk for a good many of those 40 years. "I'm pretty well wore out," he said, adding he has no plans to retire. "I'm going to hold on as long as I can."

Douglas was born in Keithsburg and then moved to the Aledo area, working first at Kimball Cleaners, then a stint in the US Air Force, before starting at the Post Office.

Douglas is the officer in charge, when the postmaster is absent from the office.

His government service actually counts towards his time with the Post Office, as he started out in 1972 delivering mail. "They had just got ZIP codes the previous year," he said.

He has seen other changes as well, such as how the mail is metered. "Before we used a manual scale," he said.

Now everything is computerized.

"I started out as a PTF clerk carrier and now after 40 years I'm a PTF clerk carrier," said Douglas. PTF stands for part time flexible.

He is married to his wife Dawn, who works at Wal-Mart and they have three children: Christopher, 26, who is in Japan teaching English; Andrea, 24, who is in Chicago attending Northern Baptist Seminary working on her master's degree and Heather, 24, who lives in Indianapolis and works with high schoolers for Campus Crusade for Christ.

Working for the postal service requires a good memory and the ability to recognize number sequences, at least initially.

"I can ask him where does so and so live and he can rattle it off," said Postmaster Clark.

The Aledo Post Office has four city carriers, three clerks, three rural route carriers, three rural route associates and the postmaster. "Plus Susan Parkinson, who cleans here every day," said Clark.

Charlie has had encounters with dogs, but has never been bit by one. "Pretty close," he said, but never. He came up with a funny story about one encounter with a dog. "Dogs have senses of humor," he said.

The great dog spray fiasco

This happened probably about 20 years ago.

The Postal Service had a requirement that carriers must have Dog Spray in their possession when on the street. That morning we had a service talk about using it when threatened, so it was fresh in my mind. Well, as luck would have it, a dog came running at me growling, barking and baring his teeth, as dogs do. So, I whip out my dog spray, push the button to spray the dog and find I have the spray in my hand backwards and end up spraying myself instead of the dog.

When I did this, the dog stopped barking and just looked at me, standing there with dog spray running down my arm and I knew he was laughing at me, because he just turned around and trotted away, thinking, 'Stupid Humans!'

Needless to say, I have not attempted to use my dog spray since. It's just too embarrassing.