SPRINGFIELD, NJ — This past week, as he had done for the past 40 years, Michael Graziano punched out for the day from his job at the Springfield Post Office.
But this was no ordinary end of day for Graziano, who has spent decades in the United States Postal Service and was finally retiring after a lengthy and varied career with the organization. A small celebration ensued, with his co-workers wishing him farewell and a cake being brought out that helped make the celebration that much sweeter.
During his time in Springfield, Graziano did almost everything. He was a window clerk, back room worker, truck loader, mail sorter, where he joked that he "did just about everything but deliver the mail."
Following his retirement, Graziano sat down with TAPinto Springfield for an exclusive interview, where he talked about his career and experiences in the postal service.
For Graziano, the feeling of retirement is "good, and a big weight off the shoulders." While he said he might look to pick up an odd job and finish his to-do list, it was nice for him to know he'd be free of the 9 to 5 grind of the daily cycle.
As for how he started in the post office, Graziano said his father Tony's career as a Springfield Assistant Postmaster was all the impetus he needed to try to break into the field himself.
"My father used to work for the post office," Graziano said. " He actually retired from the Springfield Post Office also. So out of high school, I took the test and started in the post office. I originally started in Bedminster, and was there for 10 years, and then I came to Springfield and I've been here ever since."
Over those 40 years, Graziano also noted how different every aspect of the job is thanks to technology. He remarked that the sorting process has now gotten faster, reducing the number of mail sorters from 13 to 3 people over the years in the shop.
He said that the town was also pretty good to him and the other postal workers, with few complaints about service.
Not everything was sunshine and roses however. During his time with the post office, Graziano dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Even with the town shut down, he and other workers helped to sort through and salvage mail from flooded post offices, so that it could be delivered.
He also spoke in a more recent setting, about what he and his coworkers dealt with during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Well things slowed down for a bit," Graziano said. "And then, you know, of course with the mask and the shields up for the customers. That was about it. things slowed down for the most part things slowed down a little bit because everybody was at home."
Personally, Graziano also had to maintain a quarantine coming home from work each day in order to protect his wife Toni, who has Alpha-1 antitrypsin, a genetically inherited disorder that left her vulnerable to infection.
Mike and Toni were married in 2013, and when the marriage was official, postal workers in Springfield decorated one of the trucks in the yard with a just married announcement to celebrate.
As the topic of conversation turned to the future of the post office following his departure, Graziano said that he was not worried about the institution, and that the capabilities they provide are not so easily replicated in the private sector.
"I don't think the post office is going anywhere," Graziano said. "They've been around since the 1700s. I just don't see-they say they're losing money but I don't see them going anywhere. No company can go from house to house like we do. Just not going to happen."
Overall, Graziano was happy about the future, and ready to move forward, no matter what happens.
"I'm going to miss the people I work with," Graziano said. "They were all good. It's been a long time, so it's just a good relief to not have to go to work anymore. I'm sure I'll be missed over there [...] But in general it feels good."