â€œMike the Mailman,â€ he says, when asked for his full name.
Mike â€œThe Mailmanâ€ Herr has been punching in his timesheet at 8:29 a.m. for the past 48 years and will do so for the last time on April 1, 2016. He is widely known as one of Penn Stateâ€™s most beloved traditions and whether youâ€™re an incoming freshman or an alumnus, you know this man.
Mike Herr originally hails from Lockhaven, Pa. He began working in the State College post office 48 years ago as he was taking courses here at Penn State. He had been dabbling in the Liberal Arts but wasnâ€™t really sure where to go and took up the position with the hopes that it would give him a sense of direction. Five years later, he found himself working in the University Park location next to the HUB and hasnâ€™t looked back.
â€œWhen I worked downtown, I worked the nightshift. I went to school in the daytime. When this job came up, I said, â€˜This is where I want to be,â€™â€ says the Mailman.
Due to his warm sense of humor and ability to make postal services actually enjoyable, he has made a name for himself and has earned a spot inside the hearts of every Penn Stater.
He says his favorite part about working on campus has been being able to interact with the students, faculty and staff. His least favorite part (and ours too) is closing time on Fridayâ€™s.
Millennials really can take a page from Mike the Mailmanâ€™s book. Heâ€™s found joy and gratification doing one thing his entire life â€” sending mail. Not only does he make this enjoyable for himself, but he does so as well for anyone who walks in. In case youâ€™re ever looking extra stressed, he has a hand-written sign that he holds up, reminding us to, â€œRelax.”
Though he never graduated from Penn State, he learned a few lessons in his time spent on campus.
â€œPeople are people. People are good and its fun for me to help people relax while doing postal work. I make it fun. Some people have a hard time doing postal stuff but I think Iâ€™ve made it fun, not only for the international kids, who Iâ€™m amazed that they can do what they do, but I think Iâ€™ve made it a comfortable place to come whether it’s to mail a package or just to come and say hi,â€ says the Mailman.
You may say 48 years is a long time, but Mike sees it differently.
â€œI canâ€™t imagine doing anything other than the job. Itâ€™s funny, I donâ€™t consider it a job. I like coming to work everyday,â€ says the Mailman. And in case you wanted a piece of Mailman trivia, â€œI wanted to be a professional baseball player until I turned 13 and realized I wasnâ€™t that good and everyone else was. Baseball was my first love.â€
The fact that heâ€™s retiring may not be news to anyone. Word has spread, but when asked about it, he lightheartedly says itâ€™s a joke, and likes to remind everyone that heâ€™s only 55 years old to begin with.
â€œ48 years in one place is probably a while. My wife retired four years ago and I think, although we do things all the time, it would allow me more flexibility to do things we want to do now. Someday, maybe 30 or 40 years from now, we wonâ€™t be able to do those things anymore,â€ says the Mailman, gently reminding everyone that heâ€™s much younger than his looks let on!
He has thought about what he plans to do with all his new time after retiring, and says he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Katie, playing tennis and doing everyday things without having to worry about time. He says heâ€™s happiest with her, a sentiment which reminds us that chivalry hasnâ€™t completely died yet, right?
For anyone whoâ€™s ever encountered Mike the Mailman, consider yourself lucky. There are few people in the world as inspiring and genuine as he is. For those who wonâ€™t get the chance to speak to him over the post office counter, heâ€™d like to pass something along.
â€œEnjoy this life. Enjoy the moment. Live this life. For the students, youâ€™re going to make so many lifelong friends here at Penn State and I think its a great place.”
If youâ€™ve never made it down to the post office, make some time within the next month to do so, if for no other reason than to wish him well and meet the charming legend himself.
The first thing he plans to do when he retires? â€œBuy a subscription to Valley Magazine.â€
Man knows where his priorities lie.