GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — United States Postal workers are asking their customers for patience as they attempt to get through the snow.
Rusty Bussler, a Wyoming native, has been working for USPS for over 32 years. He has been delivering mail for 31 of them.
"I enjoy my customers, I enjoy delivering the mail to all my customers and they're like family to me," Bussler said.
He has been walking the same route for 22 years. He knows most neighbors by name, bringing more than just letters to his houses; he has also been serving as the eyes and ears of the neighborhood during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Internally, the pandemic has caused employee shortages as people call out sick and stretch the workload to fewer mail couriers, according to Bussler.
But his main issue is one that many pedestrians can relate to: ice.
"It's the ice. This right here is kind of the most dangerous part right here because you got that little bit of snow on top of ice. So that's where you're going to fall the most," Bussler said.
A ProPublica report states that postal workers made up almost half of the injuries filed by federal employees back in 2019, even though they only make up 20% of the federal work force.
"I have fallen. About once a year I fall, I fell probably a week and a half ago and took a pretty good spill. I just get back up and keep on going," Bussler said.
He doesn't plan to keep falling as he finishes out his 31st winter delivering letters and packages, but he says some community shoveling does nothing but help everyone using those walk ways.
"I think that's the importance of getting to know your customers. They take care of you, my customers take care of me, I take care of them and it just makes working that much better," Bussler said.
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