While many mail carriers fear dogs, Fenton resident Jim Hajec considers them friends.
“I haven’t carried dog spray for 25 years because I know my dogs,” he said. “Besides, a little biscuit is all it takes.”
For 40 years Jim Hajec has visited nearly 500 Fenton homes a day and handled area residents important documents and packages. Yes, "The mail must go through," but for Hajec those days are finally coming to an end as he is set to retire from his post as a letter carrier for the Fenton Post Office.
Watch out for dogs...and their owners
Hajec's long career did have a couple run-ins with canines, however.
He was once trying to make a delivery to a house with a dog that was known to be mean. He knocked on the door and the dog charged out at him. Hajec’s instinct was to go into the house and shut the door. He found himself standing in the living room holding a package and no one was around. Suddenly, the homeowner appeared and asked what he was doing. Hajec told the woman, “I’m in here with this package for you and your dog is outside.”
While Hajec was never attacked by a dog, he was attacked by a dog owner.
“A guy’s dog was being aggressive with me and he thought I was going to kick it. He came up and punched me in the face," he said.
Service with a smile
Being a USPS worker means a good salary, exercise and pride for Hajec.
“People get excited. People are waiting for things and for packages. I have pride when I see the excitement in people who are getting their items. It used to be more fun when people were waiting for me to bring their checks in the mail."
One of the most difficult parts of his job is when his customers move or pass away. “I almost don’t want to take a vacation because it seems like every time I come back, someone on my route has passed away.”
Hajec doesn’t just stuff mail into people’s mailboxes and move on. He cares about each of his customers and knows that his job affects others lives. He recalled a Christmas day when holiday packages were still at the post office. He looked at the addresses and knew they were on his route and took the packages to the homes.
“The people were so happy when I knocked on their door and had their packages in time for Christmas,” he said. “It means a lot to make others happy.”
Mary Ann Jackson has been on Hajec’s route for many years.
“Jim is exceptionally happy and the most considerate mail carrier I could ever imagine,” she said.
Jackson shared how she and her husband were having major construction done on their home. They had to put a mailbox on a post and place it in a bucket of sand. They would make the mailbox accessible but they had to keep moving it.
“For at least three months, no matter what, we always got our mail and Jim never complained,” she said. “Someone else probably would have told us to get a post office box until the construction was done, but not Jim. Who else would be that dedicated?”
Many customers recognize Hajec by his red hat.
“People wouldn’t honk or wave at me without my red hat,” said Hajec.
Working for USPS
Cynthia Hogan has worked with Hajec for 25 years. She said he truly represents what the United States Post Office is all about.
“He is dedicated to customer service and he really wants to get it right,” she said. “His customers are his family. No matter what, you can count on his good spirit. When you say good morning to him, you can count on a smile and a good morning back."
Coworker Jerry Kuptz has worked with Hajec for 39 years and has never seen him get mad.
“Jim has been around the longest and everyone knows him. He is easy-going and makes friends easily.”
He added Hajec has scored a 300 game in bowling and also makes award winning apple pie.
Hajec will retire from the Fenton Post Office within the next six months. He plans on spending time with his family, traveling up north, and taking a trip to Panama City.
“I am really going to miss meeting with my customers and getting to know people,” he said. “I think I will leave behind laughter, be known for how to have a good time, and I know I made a difference in the lives of those who had the chance to have my apple pie."
You can read about more Hometown Heroes on Fenton Patch.