For eight years Ruben Martinez has kept faith with the U.S. Postal Service’s official creed: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Monday was a challenge not on that famous list — extreme cold.
By 3 p.m. the wind chill was 25 degrees below zero and Martinez was trudging through snow drifts as deep as two feet created by 24 mph hour winds whipping across a field from Ray Mellert Park in Medina, all while most of his customers sought refuge inside their homes.
Martinez spends the better part of 10 hours a day outside. He gets the mail to his customers on time with a smile on his face.
“I love my job, even though it is not for everybody,” he said. “I only get two 10-minute breaks and 30 minutes for lunch.”
To keep warm, he wears multiple pairs of pants and shirts while placing hand warmers in between the layers throughout his body including his hands and feet.
“I also keep extra gloves and hats in the truck in what I call my goody bag just in case I need them,” he said.
The boots that he wears tie up around his calves and are waterproof and cold resistant.
Tucked into his boots are blue snow pants, clad with red and blue trim, which match his blue winter coat that is issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
He wears the blue and white eagle logo on his chest proudly.
Each article of clothing is stained the color of white chalk from road salt debris and the harsh elements.
His route takes him through the Birch Manor apartment complex on the west side of the city so he gets intermittent blasts of heat inside the lobby of each building before he has to head back into the polar vortex that has consumed most of the Midwest for the past 24 hours.
“It’s nice to get a little break like that,” he said.
Inside one of the buildings Martinez delivered a package to a short, older woman who exclaimed “Oh I feel bad for you guys!”
Martinez just smiled and said, “Have a good day.”
The longest stretch of exposure Martinez suffers through is the effort to fill the community mailboxes of the Birch Hill Apartments across the street, which can take him over an hour to complete.
“The boxes are right by the street so you have the extra cold factor when cars whip past you and you’re not moving,” he said.
Martinez said he would rather work in the scorching heat than the blistering cold because he can always take layers off in the heat and it’s harder to put layers on in the cold.
Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.