“Mike the Mailman,” he says, when asked for his full name.
Mike “The Mailman” 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 State’s most beloved traditions and whether you’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 wasn’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 hasn’t looked back.
“When I worked downtown, I worked the nightshift. I went to school in the daytime. When this job came up, I said, ‘This is where I want to be,’” 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 Friday’s.
Millennials really can take a page from Mike the Mailman’s book. He’s found joy and gratification doing one thing his entire life — sending mail. Not only does he make this enjoyable for himself, but he does so as well for anyone who walks in. In case you’re ever looking extra stressed, he has a hand-written sign that he holds up, reminding us to, “Relax.”
Though he never graduated from Penn State, he learned a few lessons in his time spent on campus.
“People 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 I’ve made it fun, not only for the international kids, who I’m amazed that they can do what they do, but I think I’ve made it a comfortable place to come whether it’s to mail a package or just to come and say hi,” says the Mailman.
You may say 48 years is a long time, but Mike sees it differently.
“I can’t imagine doing anything other than the job. It’s funny, I don’t consider it a job. I like coming to work everyday,” says the Mailman. And in case you wanted a piece of Mailman trivia, “I wanted to be a professional baseball player until I turned 13 and realized I wasn’t that good and everyone else was. Baseball was my first love.”
The fact that he’s retiring may not be news to anyone. Word has spread, but when asked about it, he lightheartedly says it’s a joke, and likes to remind everyone that he’s only 55 years old to begin with.
“48 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 won’t be able to do those things anymore,” says the Mailman, gently reminding everyone that he’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 he’s happiest with her, a sentiment which reminds us that chivalry hasn’t completely died yet, right?
For anyone who’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 won’t get the chance to speak to him over the post office counter, he’d like to pass something along.
“Enjoy this life. Enjoy the moment. Live this life. For the students, you’re going to make so many lifelong friends here at Penn State and I think its a great place.”
If you’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? “Buy a subscription to Valley Magazine.”
Man knows where his priorities lie.