Walnut Creek Mailman Formed Unusual Connections With Customers

By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM
How well do you know your mail carrier?
In this week's Difference Makers, reporter Carrie Hodousek profiles a retired Walnut Creek mail carrier who touched the lives of many families during 38 years of service.

It’s not often people get to form a special bond with their mail carrier, yet that's exactly what happened with Joe Bologna who deliverred letters and packages in Walnut Creek for 38 years. 

For Bologna, the job was unique. It didn't require him to sit at a desk in an office. Instead, he was getting involved in the lives of his customers. Bologna ate meals with customers and played games with them during his day.

“You see children grow up. You see people who are like your parents who give you advice,” Bologna told KCBS Radio.

Driving the same route, stopping at the same homes, he got to know his customers like his own family. His fondest memory was when he invited 25 of his customers to his daughter’s wedding.

“The best thing about being a mailman is having that family. I do miss that,” he said. “I had one gentleman who always wanted a hug. They always said hello to you.”

Bologna retired this September. He logged over a million miles of safe driving without any accidents. He has driven the equivalent of 40 times around the globe, all without leaving the city limits.

Rick Watson often invited Bologna inside for lunch during his mail route.

“On one occasion, my son, daughter and I were all out in front throwing a football around. He managed to stop for a few minutes and join in,” Watson said.

These type of interactions that can be few and far between nowadays.

“Where do you find that kind of relationship with a mailman? In today’s hustle and bustle environment, to find somebody who would actually stop and chat about what’s going on in the neighborhood,” Watson said. “He’s made this a sense of community.”

With his five years in the Air Force, Bologna has a combined 43 years of federal service. Naturally, he was always aware of who was home or if doors were left open.

“If you see mail built up, you might want to knock on the door," Bologna said. "Either an elderly person is sick or laying on the ground. You just don’t know."

He said all you can do is lend a helping hand.

“Just go on with your route as long as that person is okay,” he said.

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