When Marathon’s new postmaster showed up on March 5 to take over the local office, he took one look around and promptly exited the building.
“I told them I would be back in 15 minutes. I went home and changed into sweats and a T-shirt to start putting this office back together,” Erik Pendlebury said. “After the hurricane, things were still a mess. I didn’t even have a desk.”
This isn’t his first rodeo. In fact, this is his 22nd office in 16 years. His district encompasses Long Key, Key Colony Beach, Marathon Shores and the main Marathon office. There are about 25 employees who work the desks, seven city routes and two rural routes.
“There’s about 11 people on the road on any given day,” he said.
The rebuilding of the Keys after the storm doesn’t stop at the physical offices, some of which sustained damage. As the Keys rebuild, many residents are ordering supplies to be delivered — by the U.S. Post Office, not one of those other companies.
“We’re taking back the package business,” Pendlebury said. “We can do it better and cheaper.”
In the meantime, he’s consumed with replacing as many damaged “cluster boxes” – the multiple boxes at apartment buildings, for example – as possible. He also wants to raise the visibility of physical addresses so mail can be delivered more easily. Finally, it’s about partnering with the entire community. Pendlebury said his work in the post office often intersects with law enforcement to communicate trouble areas or an unexplained change in routine. He’s joined local service clubs, too, to work more closely with local business owners and professionals.
When he relocated to Florida, Pendlebury thought he would settle around the Sarasota and Tamp area, where he has family. On a whim, he took a drive down to the Keys and found it would suit him much better. We think so, too.
Full name: Erik W. Pendlebury
How long have you worked at USPS? 25 years and 10 months.
Most challenging aspect of your job? Keeping a positive atmosphere.
Easiest part of your job? There is no easy part of the job.
We assume you used to be a carrier; what was the weirdest thing that ever happened on your route? When I was delivering mail to a two-story home, the dog jumped out a window from second floor on to the garage, then down off the garage to the ground, and chased me back to my mail truck.
How is postal delivery in the Keys different from New Jersey? The Keys are way more laidback and friendly compared to the non-stop, on-the-go lifestyle of New Jersey.
Dream meal: you are sitting at a diner counter eating; who walks in and sits next to you? My “Pop” Grandfather Robert Sulzer … he passed away in 2002.
Favorite Keys thing to do? Sombrero Beach, then stop at Porky’s for happy hour special.
Which TV or movie character is your alter ego? Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” or “Tears of the Sun.”
Favorite guilty pleasure? Reese’s peanut butter cups.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Professional baseball player.
What is your most treasured possession? My wine bottle opener.
Finish these sentences …
When the post office gets letters to Santa … I personally deliver them to Santa and make sure to get them back to the sender.
The Keys are like … the B.E.A.C.H – Best Escape Anyone Can Have!
I live by the motto … Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.
When I go, I will go … with my toes in the sand and a beverage of choice in my hand.