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Snow, rain heat and the gloom of night are nothing compared to the hazards mail carriers face on the job these days.
Bedford resident Bob Webb said he’s been bitten by dogs, attacked by a rooster and even shot at during the 32 years he carried mail for the Bedford Post Office. Webb retired from that job Friday, Dec. 3, amongst friends and co-workers who honored him with an open house at the post office.
Oddly, it was the rooster that did the most damage. Lifting up his left pantleg, he showed several patches where the wounds have yet to heal.
“He got me five times before I could get back to my car,” Webb recalled. “I’d kick him away and he’d come right back after me. ... It was a pretty thing, though.”
“You’re the only person I know who got attacked by a rooster,” laughed co-worker Larry Chilton.
One day, Webb said he was shot at by boys who were playing with a .22-caliber rifle. He said the slug shot out the back window of his car and sailed past his head on its way out the driver’s side window.
“I was sitting in the middle,” he said. “If I was at the wheel, it would have hit me.”
He said the kids finally admitted to the incident about a month later, and said they told authorities that they didn’t know a bullet could go that far.
He said he also has found two of his customers dead while making his rounds – one was a good friend who had died in his car.
That same day, distracted by the loss of his friend, he said he opened a mailbox that had been rigged with firecrackers. Fortunately, the blast, rigged by a kid and intended for another kid who lived there, only bruised his hand.
“It was not a very good day,” Webb said.
But most days have been good. Webb joined the post office in 1979 after serving four years as a medic in the U.S. Navy and in the Kentucky Air National Guard.
“I really liked it,” he said, adding that the job was a lot harder back then, before e-mail and the advent of commercial delivery services.
Rosemary Miller, regional manager of postal operations, presented a certificate to Webb during the open house. She said Webb’s 67-mile route serviced 475 customers.
“I know you’re gonna miss that part,” she said, referring to Webb’s record of taking good care of his customers. “We’re going to miss you as well.”
Miller, who lauded Webb for his service on the state board of the Rural Carriers Association and as state coordinator of the mail carriers’ Providence Guild, which provides death benefits to carriers’ families, reminded him that he would soon be receiving his final paycheck.
“I hope my carrier don’t lose it,” Webb quipped.
Denise Dewitt, the sixth postmaster in charge of the Bedford Post Office since Webb began working there, said the entire staff is sad to see Webb leave.
“I’m kind of shocked, really. I thought he’d be here long after I was gone,” she said. “He’s a character; he makes us all laugh. ... He takes good care of his customers, and goes above and beyond. He’s always helped them when they need it.”
Webb acknowledged that his Navy medic and EMT experience had come in handy over the years when he has come across people needing help on his route.
Webb said he didn’t really have any plans for his retirement. “It’s the question everyone asks,” he said, “but why do you have to do anything?”
Still, he has plenty to keep him busy. He will remain active with the Shelby County Habitat for Humanity and continue with the prison ministry program through his church.
“I’ve got lots of things at home for him to do,” assured his wife, Ruth Ann.