REDLANDS, Calif. – It wasn’t snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night that stopped Chester Arthur Reed from his appointed round. The mail handler just felt it was time to call it quits at age 95.
The fork lift operator retired Wednesday as the nation’s oldest postal worker, ending a career without taking a single sick day. It’s a feat he attributes to a healthy diet of watermelon, alkaline water and an onion sandwich with mayo every day.
“If everyone in the nation ate watermelons, they’d get rid of all the doctors,” Reed said.
Despite being partially deaf and walking with a stoop, Reed has worked for more years than many of his co-workers have been alive and has accrued 3,856 hours — nearly two years — of sick leave for not missing a shift in 37 years.
Reed has been a U.S. Postal Service mail handler and forklift operator since he was hired in 1973, making $4 an hour. He hit the $25-an-hour ceiling about 10 years ago.
Reed said he likes his job because “one, it’s a steady income and, two, they don’t hassle you.” But he also knows when to leave, reasoning: “The Bible says there’s a time for everything. Well, it’s time to retire, and that’s it.”
Reed worked the 2:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift and logged in more than 12 hours some days, his 55-year-old manager Mary Brunkhorst said. “We’d have to force him to go home, and he’d say there’s still work to do. It takes a special person to work to age 95. Our generation would not do that.”