Patmore Meikle makes mailing special
Charismatic postman still on the job after 40 years
He started out filling in for a friend who would take long trips away on the farmwork programme and needed someone to fill in for him as a postal worker. Today, 40 years later, Patmore Meikle continues to shine as a standout mailman, serving more than 5,000 homes in central Manchester.
“One year he, my friend, went and overstayed his time, and so my service was extended. In 1983, I received an official letter from the head office offering me the position, and I have been there ever since.”
From a job as a mail courier transporting mailbags from the Newport Post Office to the Heathfield Post Office in Manchester, to later becoming a postal courier, delivering mails to homes in and around Mandeville, Meikle said he has seen and experienced it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly – but he would not trade the experience for anything.
“I had to walk with a big bag on my back. It even said it in the contract, that you have to walk three miles per hour. We were not allowed to take public transportation, but I would get a ride from the milk van or I would ride my bicycle.” He said.
With strict instructions to carry the locked bag laden with envelopes safely to its destination, Meikle said he could not leave the bag anywhere but at its destination – the next postal agency.
“You couldn’t go shopping with the bag on you. I didn’t take the chance, because if something went wrong, I would be liable. Even in the rain. I got a cloak, but that precious cargo was more protected than I was because it could never get soaked.” Meikle explained jokingly.
STRONG WORK ETHIC
With the public’s strong dependency on postal services then, Meikle said the weight of the responsibilities to ensure safety was equally as heavy, if not heavier than the bag itself.
“But truth be told, because I was in my community, I was very much protected. Nobody tried to rob me or anything. They would more look out for me. If they didn’t see me one day, they would ask if anybody see ‘Posty’.”
Though he was only earning a fortnightly starting salary of $142, Meikle said that payment could do much more than what the salary in present-day Jamaica can handle.
“I remember back then, one pay week I was able to buy a two-burner gas stove, cash, and had enough change left to buy grocery. Now the salary can’t do much in this economy. Sometimes I wanted to leave, but I always ended up back here and found a way to make it work.”
Then, after 10 years, Meikle transitioned to a clerk at the Mandeville Post Office and next to a postal courier at the same agency before being transferred to Hatfield, where he is now based.
“I experienced the joys and equally the sorrows, as people would begin crying almost immediately if I said I had a telegram. Telegrams were either death news or from a farmworker. If you don’t know anyone on farmwork, you know what that meant.”
With a charismatic personality, strong work ethic, attention to detail and ability to organise, Meikle is not the average postman and easily wins the admiration of those he serves and some he works alongside.
“I completed a course in supervisory management at the Management Institute for National Development and could have been promoted, but I love my job. I love being on the road, I love the freedom, and I love serving the people.”
Delivering mail to up to 2,000 houses on his busiest days, Meikle said most of his clients are like family.
“The confidence and the trust people put in me is what I love. I have a client that I had to visit every day, even if I didn’t have mail for her. She was like a mother to me. She recently passed. But before she passed, she told me I had to cook for her funeral because she knows I am good at it, and I had to honour her wishes.”
He continued: “I love the elderly; I love making people happy. They know if they ask, I will pick up their medication, etc. I know all my clients and their special needs. I know those who can’t walk and I have to push the envelope under the door ... .”
This was confirmed by Meikle’s oldest client, 99-year old Gwendolyn Ellis.
“He has been delivering my mail for the past 20 years. He is one of the best postmen I have ever had. I can trust him. I could not desire any better of him, and he is special because of his nature to be special,” she said
Not only did the postal services, other networking opportunities and this special nature allow Meikle to make a life, but he also found a wife.
“We, my wife and I, met while I was at the Mandeville Post Office, where she worked. We started talking and things started to blossom. I proposed to her after six months, and they transferred her to another post office so there wouldn’t be any conflict of interest. I actually set the date for my wedding before even meeting my wife, and that’s the day we got married.”
The two, who have been married for approximately 28 years, have two daughters who recently completed university with degrees in environmental science, and banking and finance.
As he approaches retirement, the 59-year-old said he is thinking about his next moves. He is contemplating starting a catering business or expanding his interests to offer other services.
“I am looking forward to it (retirement) a lot, including travelling. But my major priority is to clear my daughters’ student loans. I don’t want them to carry that burden. I want to carry it for them and see that they are settled in their dream jobs,” he said.