Imagine driving 1 million miles accident-free. It takes care and attention to accomplish such a feat, and Tina Martin, a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) letter carrier in Kennesaw, can say she’s achieved it.
The Million Mile Award is presented to letter carriers who safely drive 1 million miles or 30 years without a preventable incident. Joining the Million Mile Club is a major honor among letter carriers nationwide, as the USPS has one of the largest civilian fleets in the world — more than 230,000 vehicles.
Martin, who has served her community for 34 years, said she wasn’t striving to achieve this goal. Safety is simply a key part of her daily routine on her route, which is 21 miles round-trip from the post office. As for how she’s avoided accidents for so many years, Martin said she drives very defensively, looks two to three times to make sure it’s clear and checks her mirrors constantly. She also said that, if there are children playing in the road, she counts to make sure they are all in her view as she’s driving.
In her time as a rural carrier delivering outside the city limits, Martin has noticed that, as Cobb County has grown, so has the traffic. Another recent change is the volume of mail. With more people ordering online during the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of deliveries has increased, but the number of delivery locations has remained the same, she said.
Martin’s desire to serve her community seems to run in the family, as her brother has worked for the U.S. Postal Service more than 30 years, and her father is a retired postmaster.
Asked about her favorite part of her job, Martin said it would be “my customers.” She has been on the same route for 19 years and has seen customers get married and have children who have grown up and had children. “It’s like being with family,” she said. She shared a story of a woman who comes out every day to greet her and tell her to be careful on her route.
The most challenging part of Martin’s job is the brutal summer heat and the snow, if there is any, in winter. “The ice and the snow do not do well with the mail trucks,” she said.
With more than three decades on the job, Martin still has a contagious, positive attitude about delivering mail to her customers and keeping herself and those around her safe in the process. The world could use a million more Tinas.
– Nicole Smith is a public health professional living in Kennesaw with her epic houseplant collection and two senior dogs, Jax and Lily Grace.