One of Kirkland’s longtime postal carriers, Phil Hill, is calling it a career after 50 years of service with the U.S. Postal Service.
Known by many within the workforce and the Kirkland community as “Coach,” Hill, 68, is more than thankful for his working experience within the community and is now ready to move on into retirement.
Hill began his service with the USPS in Kirkland back in 1968 at the age of 18. At the time, he noted that there were a total of 13 routes in the community. Now there are more than 60. Since then, Hill has seen many changes throughout the Kirkland area and has witnessed the city transform into an urban area.
“It used to be a sleepy little town on the lake,” Hill said. “Now it’s a major city.”
One of the aspects Hill is going to miss the most about his time as a postal carrier is the long-term relationships he has formed with customers. He said these relationships have transformed into friendships which, for him, has been an unforgettable experience.
Another special experience for Hill has been meeting and getting to know the kids along his routes as they have grown up and become adults. He said he has seen many kids throughout his career grow up through childhood, then go to college, move back to Kirkland, get married and eventually start a family. These are experiences that he’ll never forget.
“Job satisfaction is not up to somebody else. It’s up to you,” Hill said. “That’s what I’ve concentrated on and you only achieve that by doing a good job.”
What may be most impressive about Hill’s 50-year career with the Kirkland post office is his dedication. Hill comes from a very poor background and for him, those experiences and circumstances growing up taught him a lot about what it means to be a hard-working contributor within your community. This greatly influenced his overall work ethic that many see today.
“I’m proud of my attendance. I’m always on time. I take pride in the job that I do and I think that my peers and my managers have all recognized that,” Hill said. “Respect is not a given. It has to be earned.”
Over the course of his 50 years as a postal carrier, Hill has accumulated more than 5,000 hours of sick leave. In other words, he has called in sick to work only once — that one time being about 37 years ago.
To Hill, people can’t have a passion for what they do if they don’t have respect for that passion in the first place. Respect means everything to Hill and is an aspect of his character that has kept him consistently dedicated to the Kirkland community for so many years.
“How do you spend your life doing something that you don’t like?” Hill asked. “I can honestly say I’ve never felt that way.”
Hill remembers a specific time just this past year with one of his customers, an elderly woman and her husband. He saw the woman running out across the street to drop off an outgoing letter into the mailbox rather quickly one day. Hill asked her why she was running so fast and learned that her husband had dementia and she was afraid to leave him alone for even a second.
Since her mailbox was far from their home, Hill made a trip out to Home Depot and bought a mini mailbox. On his day off, he went over to her house and he attached the mailbox right outside her door, giving the woman door-to-door delivery from then on, so she wouldn’t have to leave her husband.
“I can’t tell you what that meant to her and what that meant to me. It’s something that she will never forget and I won’t either,” Hill said. “To me, that’s what this job is about.”
Hill’s last day is officially scheduled for Aug. 3. As his career comes to a close, Hill said he is ready for the next phase of his life.
“I’ve reached my goal,” Hill said. “Fifty years.”