Kodiak Daily Mirror - Mailman retiring after 30 years of doing Kodiak routes
Mailman retiring after 30 years of doing Kodiak routes
by Peter J Mladineo
Jun 23, 2014 | 214 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Steven Tyner will be stepping down as one of Kodiak's long-time mailmen on July 1. (Peter J. Mladineo photo)
Steven Tyner will be stepping down as one of Kodiak's long-time mailmen on July 1. (Peter J. Mladineo photo)
For Steven Tyner, retirement from 30 years on the job as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Kodiak beckons on July 1.

He has a mixed mind when it comes to the day — especially when it comes to what to do with all his new leisure time.

“I’m relieved to be retiring,” Tyner told the Mirror. “I started part-time work when I was 12. I used to clean charter boats in Westport, Washington. It’s been so long. I’ve never not worked, to be honest. That’s going to be the biggest transition.”

From his unique vantage point as a mailman, Tyner, 55, has seen Kodiak grow from an off-the-charts parcel-only zone to a boomtown to the complex city that it is now trying to rebuild its downtown while its nearby Coast Guard base expands.

He has counted the stair steps on the downtown route – 1,260 in all -- and has worked all five routes in town. He remembers the snowstorms like no one else and has deep fondness for the Coast Guard community.

Tyner was born in Kodiak, left and returned to the island. His father was the first commanding officer of COMMSTA – the communications station – at BASE Kodiak.

He waxes a bit wistful about the thought of not having the Coast Guard route anymore.

“It was an honor to work for the people of Kodiak and for my extended Coast Guard family. And it’s going to be weird driving off that base on July 1 knowing I can’t ever go back on it,” Tyner said.

Tyner started at the U.S. Post Office in 1983 as a clerk.

“When they re-established home delivery I was on the team that set up the routes and the first letter carrier in the modern era,” Tyner added.

“When we first started there was a parcel route, because there was no UPS and FedEx and I’d carry over 400 packages a day,” he said.

He has a few standout memories of his time as a post – most of them are weather-related.

Winter of 2012 brought “blizzard after blizzard after blizzard. It started snowing in late October and didn’t stop until May 10. It was brutal,” he said.

He recalls a windstorm in February, 1985. “We had a windstorm that winds were steady at 85 with gusts to 110 and they still sent us out to deliver mail. That was the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane,” he said.

The gusts blew over some of the Sea Land cargo vans and blew out of windows in downtown buildings, he said.

Perhaps even harder than the weather was dealing with Christmas rush.

Last Christmas, he reports, “a coworker and I took 8,500 packages to the Coast Guard Base in a three-week span.”

“I used to double load a two-and-a-half-ton truck at Christmas time. My personal best was 612 packages in a two-ton van. That was this last Christmas,” he added.

He’s also seen the downtown area retail stores close while parcel traffic increases.

He attributes some of that to the sales tax.

“With the increase of the sales tax, people are going online and ordering tax free and free shipping,” he said.

“Our parcels have doubled in last two years.”

The midtown could use some uplift too while the Coast Guard is doing nothing but getting busier for the post office, he maintains.

“Mill Bay used to be plum full of businesses. We’d just take one two-ton truck full of packages just for Mill Bay and one two-two ton truck for downtown. Now we service both areas with a one-ton box van. But I still do the 2,500 people at the Coast Guard base with a two-ton. The base is going to expand,” he added.

Perhaps the biggest change for him is not social or commercial but personal.

“I think one of the biggest differences is 30 years ago I could delivery 500 packages and then go play a softball game. And now it’s go home and take a nap,” he said.

Tyner hopes he and his wife Kate, a retired schoolteacher, will have time to do a little “battery recharge” and spend a little extra time in Florida during the winter.

“It’s time to travel now. Time to do stuff,” he said.

One thing he’ll have time to do is bowl.

An avid bowler, Tyner recently bowled his best frame in peculiar circumstances.

He learned from his wife that his sister-in-law had an inoperable brain tumor.

“She got medevaced to Seattle and my wife called and say they found an inoperable brain tumor. It was Tuesday night bowling. And told her I’ll dedicate my first game to your sister Chris, and threw my first 300. I wasn’t even nervous,” he said.

Contact Peter J. Mladineo at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com

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