Feb. 4 is National Thank a Mail Carrier Day—a time to appreciate the work of those in the profession, which, in places like Cleveland, often takes place in the blowing rain or heavy snow. To recognize the many people who deliver mail for Case Western Reserve University, The Daily spent time with Nick Palermo, one of the team’s most familiar faces. Read on to get to know him—and don’t forget to thank your local mail carrier!
If you’re wandering around Case Western Reserve’s campus and find yourself lost, you can only hope to run into Nick Palermo.
Palermo has been a member of the university community as a mail carrier for more than 10 years, and in that time, he’s come to learn where every building, department and unit is located on campus—and many of the people who work in them.
As a result, his supervisor, Tristan Edmondson, service delivery manager for Exela Technologies—which the university contracts with for mail services—is convinced no one knows campus better than Palermo.
“Once, someone was looking for a package that Amazon had delivered to the wrong place, but only had a single photo the driver had taken to help find it,” said Edmondson. “Nick identified the room and building it was in by looking at just the carpet. It was incredible.”
From room locations to other staples of his routine, Palermo’s work day is centered around numbers.
When he wakes at 4 a.m., he has two cups of coffee (with cream) before leaving for the office. Upon arriving at the university’s central mail hub on Cedar Ave. at 6 a.m., he has about two more cups as he begins sorting through hundreds of pieces of mail and organizing them into bins.
Four hours and a few rounds of deliveries later, he hops in his van (with sounds of Nirvana and Pearl Jam in the background) and grabs another cup of joe on the road—his last of the day—from either Dunkin’ or Burger King, as he isn’t a fan of “Staryucks.”
One could say all of that coffee—a staple in Palermo’s life since he was 8 years old—is what powers him through walking 26,000 steps a day during his 20 stops on campus, and it could be the reason he has his routes down to a science.
Marvin McMichael, one of three couriers Palermo supervises, confirmed his manager is not one to deviate from his routine; he need only look at the clock to know where Palermo is and what he’s doing.
“He’s a character; he finds a lot of humor in a lot of things,” McMichael laughed. “I used to ride with him, we would laugh all day—my face would hurt from laughing so much.”
Whether he’s overseeing his team or working his routes and catching up with acquaintances across campus, Palermo hopes McMichael’s perception of him as a “nice guy” is commonplace.
“I mean, I finish last all the time so I must be a nice guy,” Palermo joked.
”I like the people here, I really do,” he continued. “The [students], they’re all nice. I’ll [have my hands full] and they’ll get the door for me. One time I fell over my own two feet and two or three of them came and said, ‘Are you okay?’ and picked up my stuff.”
It’s not just the students he’s come to be grateful for. Palermo said just hearing a simple “thank you” from CWRU employees while he’s on the job is “better than getting money or a gift,” especially if it comes from his friend, Cookie Shade.
The front desk receptionist for Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at the Health Education Campus, Shade has known Palermo since he first started at CWRU a decade ago.
“Whenever I see Nick, he always comes in with such a positive aura that feels genuine,” Shade said. “No matter what the climate of the day is, he makes you smile with his positive and courteous demeanor.
“He often says that I make his day,” she added, “but he really makes my day.”
Palermo wanted to work for the Postal Service since he befriended his mail carrier, Lester, when he was a teenager, so it’s no surprise he takes pride in—and thoroughly enjoys—his line of work.
While his work isn’t the greatest joy of his life—that’s an honor reserved for his five grandchildren—it’s one he relishes. And everyone seems to notice.
“He cares about getting the job done right and making sure his team does as well,” Edmondson said. “We’re really lucky to have him as part of our campus community. The only drawback is that he’s a Steelers fan, but nobody is perfect.”