Three decades after she sold her first stamp to Denise Goglin, Elaine Lawton completed the circle by selling her last stamp as she officially retires from the postal service after 36 years.
“Thirty-six years, that’s two-thirds of my life,” said Lawton, who is now 54 and retired from the first job she started out of high school. Lawton spent three years in Chilliwack working for Canada Post, and the remaining 33 years at the Hope post office.
She kept her retirement secret save for a few colleagues who knew. Jackie Miller, a co-worker originally from the Fraser Canyon who has been at the post office for 19 years, also retired last week.
“You know when somebody has died and you sort sympathy cards, you know when somebody’s had a baby and you’re part of their life. You know it all,” Lawton said of a role which everyone in the entire community connects with at one point or another.
The best and worst thing about the job are the people, she said, and she finds most pleasure in knowing that she has made an impact on them. “But I don’t think I did anything special,” she added.
Despite the many people coming in and out of the post office, Lawton hasn’t seen any proposals or love stories start here. She did encounter a man with the last name Honey and a woman with the last name Sugar, “and I really wanted them to get together,” she said. “Honey and sugar. That’s funny, they were both here about the same time and they left about the same time.”
“It’s about the community and getting to know the people. I’ve met customers who have become friends,” she said. “Someone moves to Hope and you meet them. There are so many people who have said ‘you are the first person that I met when I came to Hope’.”
Denise Goglin is one of those customers, in fact, she was Lawton’s first customer at the post office. She returned Thursday to buy one last stamp from her.
“They’re always friendly and happy,” Goglin said of the ladies at the post office. “You can come in and ask them anything you want, and they’re more willing to help. They tell me what to do and I listen,” she said to laughs from the soon-to-be retirees.
Retiring in the midst of labour negotiations is ironic, Lawton mused, yet she has seen a few of those over the course of her career. Some more happy memories include taking on elf duties one Christmas.
“Getting a message Christmas eve, about a parcel that had been misdelivered. And the person had the key, but there was no parcel in the box. So Cory and I went out at midnight and met the lady and got her her parcel. And it was for her child, it was a Christmas present for one of her three kids. And so, we saved Christmas. Santa came through,” she said.
Now she looks forward to finally getting Christmas Eve off, a luxury she only enjoyed once in 36 years when she took the date off in 1992, the year she married Cory Lawton. Now it is travels —to Las Vegas, Costa Rica and Christmas in Mexico — on the horizon.
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