Hi from Happy Valley! My name is Mike Herr, but most people know me as Mike the Mailman. I am so honored to be half of this Mike & Mike team that runs every Wednesday and includes my teammate and good friend, Mike Poorman.
I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you and share a few things about myself. For those of you who know me, you will get to know a little more. And for those of you who don't (hopefully, you all are excellent bakers) I will start off with my “Cookie of the Month” contest. Actually, that's a bit farther down, so give me a minute or two...
MINUTE NUMBER ONE:
I first started working at the University Park Post Office at Penn State 30-plus years ago. My postal career actually began in April 1968. I worked the night shift for my first 10 years, attending Penn State for four years during my early postal days.
In 1978 I finally got to work at the window counter in the downtown State College post office. Having that job gave me the opportunity to be the assistant window clerk for the University Park Post Office.
For the next five years I worked as an assistant to Elliott, the manager of the location I am still at and a very knowledgeable and caring guy. When Elliott retired, I became the manager of the University Park post office.
After becoming the manager of what I now fondly refer to as the “Park Post Office,” I slowly began to establish an environment that reflected the attitude that I have always wanted to exude -- professionalism with personality -- and also reflected the surroundings of the proud college campus where it is situated.
Aesthetically, I started to achieve this environment by hanging such things as: any posters I could find of Penn State Sport's team schedules; little phrases that customers could read and reflect on while waiting in line (“No Shoes, No Shirt, No Sweat”); and other miscellaneous fare (i.e., the JoePa cutout) that welcomed my visitors.
The more signs and pictures I put up at the Park, the more positive feedback I received from the university’s staff, students and faculty. I quickly was known as The Mailman. But it wasn't until I was recognized at a Penn State football tailgate when a student who had been into the Park Post Office earlier that week shouted, “I know you…you're The Mailman.” Since I wasn’t at work, I re-introduced myself to her as Mike.
And that, I guess, is where Mike the Mailman began.
MINUTE NUMBER TWO:
About 20 years ago, two other monumental events were introduced to the Park Post Office (and me).
A lovely lady came into my office with freshly baked cookies -- and not to mail. They were for me! After one bite I immediately declared her the winner of my “Cookie of the Month Club.” She was the only entrant, but those cookies were so good it started my monthly contest that still continues today.
(Is now where I insert the delivery address for this elite and delicious competition?!)
In 1989 I was approached by the Dance Marathon committee to assist with one little activity segment portion of THON. The committee decided to call this portion “Mail Call.” I was asked to show up and deliver to each of the dancing couples support and encouraging mail from their friends and family.
To me, looking back on this event, it was the first time I was involved in something directly involving Penn State. I have been a part of Mail Call every year since its inception, and every year I am in awe of how so many students unite by being involved in all aspects of this phenomenal event for such a great cause.
I could write a whole article on my first Mail Call experience, as well as the amazing commitment this school, its students, faculty and staff have made to the Four Diamonds Fund. Actually, since this column runs every other week, maybe I will!
For now, I will just say that to be a very small part of the largest student-run philanthropic event has been such a humbling and touching experience. From this event came offers from fraternities and sororities to help judge everything from Christmas lighting contests to Greek singing events.
Other campus organizations have invited me to be a part of several events, including one of my favorites, the Homecoming Parade. I've been in the parade, a judge for the floats and, most recently, the honorary Grand Marshall of the 2008 parade.
For the last 30 years of my career, becoming part of what Penn State is all about has made me so very proud. I happy and grateful to not only respond to Mike, Mr. Herr and Dad, but Mike the Mailman as well.
MINUTE NUMBER THREE:
Time to go eat some oatmeal raisin cookies….quite possibly this month's contest winner.