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'The cackle is leaving': Longtime post office worker retires

You don't need to see Marj Hendershot at the downtown post office to know she's there

Published on April 2, 2017 8:40AM

Last changed on April 2, 2017 12:32PM

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS - In this Monday, March 20, 2017, photo, Marj Hendershot helps a customer at the United States Post Office on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton, Wash. You don’t need to see Marj at the downtown post office to know she's there. The Kitsap Sun reports that a charming demeanor, combined with her unmistakable laugh, has made Marj an institution for anyone who's mailed a package in Bremerton. But March 31 was her last day there. (Meegan M. Reid/Kitsap Sun via AP)

The Associated Press

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS - In this Monday, March 20, 2017, photo, Marj Hendershot helps a customer at the United States Post Office on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton, Wash. You don’t need to see Marj at the downtown post office to know she's there. The Kitsap Sun reports that a charming demeanor, combined with her unmistakable laugh, has made Marj an institution for anyone who's mailed a package in Bremerton. But March 31 was her last day there. (Meegan M. Reid/Kitsap Sun via AP)

Marj Hendershot marks a package at the US Post Office on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton on Monday, March 20, 2017.  Around 40 of Marjorie Ann Hendershot’s 62 years of life have been spent with the United States Postal Service in Washington. A charming demeanor, combined with her unmistakable laugh, has made Marj an institution for anyone who’s mailed a package in Bremerton. (Meegan M. Reid /Kitsap Sun via AP)

The Associated Press

Marj Hendershot marks a package at the US Post Office on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton on Monday, March 20, 2017. Around 40 of Marjorie Ann Hendershot’s 62 years of life have been spent with the United States Postal Service in Washington. A charming demeanor, combined with her unmistakable laugh, has made Marj an institution for anyone who’s mailed a package in Bremerton. (Meegan M. Reid /Kitsap Sun via AP)

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS - In this Monday, March 20, 2017, photo, Marj Hendershot carries a mail bin through the United States Post Office on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton, Wash. You don’t need to see Marj at the downtown post office to know she's there. The Kitsap Sun reports that a charming demeanor, combined with her unmistakable laugh, has made Marj an institution for anyone who's mailed a package in Bremerton. But March 31 was her last day there. (Meegan M. Reid/Kitsap Sun via AP)

The Associated Press

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS - In this Monday, March 20, 2017, photo, Marj Hendershot carries a mail bin through the United States Post Office on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton, Wash. You don’t need to see Marj at the downtown post office to know she's there. The Kitsap Sun reports that a charming demeanor, combined with her unmistakable laugh, has made Marj an institution for anyone who's mailed a package in Bremerton. But March 31 was her last day there. (Meegan M. Reid/Kitsap Sun via AP)


BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — You don't need to see Marj Hendershot at the downtown post office to know she's there.

At the bottom of the marble staircase, the first place customers reach earshot of its cavernous lobby, the sound of her voice is striking.

"Soon as you get off the ferry, you can hear me," Hendershot joked about how far it carries. "But the noise is going away. The cackle is leaving."

Around 40 of Marjorie Ann Hendershot's 62 years of life have been spent with the United States Postal Service in Washington. A charming demeanor, combined with her unmistakable laugh, has made Marj an institution for anyone who's mailed a package in Bremerton.

March 31 was her last day.

Even in the most trivial of tasks, Hendershot was a ray of sunshine, recalled Illahee resident and customer Darin Lesmeister recently. He had trouble setting up a post office box until he met her.

"She's just got this great positive spirit," he said.

A bowl of candy for kids, a bag of treats for dogs and even Italian plums when they're ripe — throughout her years at the counter, Hendershot often has something to offer customers.

But colleague Anna Gilman said it is Hendershot's "warmth" she'll miss most. In a job where customer service is key, Gilman said the affable Hendershot is able to remain personable through the most stressful of encounters.

"She is positively exuberant in a way no one else is," Gilman said.

Mayor Patty Lent, who plans to present Hendershot with a key to the city, called her the "den mother" of the downtown branch.

She might be leaving, but it's impossible to erase the mark she's made there. Pictures of frequent visitors — in this case, canines — adorn the wall by her desk. Little solar-powered figurines line the walls, projecting a sense that, like Hendershot, everything's in motion.

In retirement, Hendershot said she's heading out on a road trip to see the country. What she'll miss most are "the people and the stories."

"They're all my friends, all my family," Hendershot said.

One thing you might not expect as she retires: Hendershot considers herself to be quite bashful. At the post office, she says her "red counter" gave her the confidence to interact with customers.

"This is my territory," Hendershot said. "But when I'm out there in the world, I'm a pretty shy little girl."

The Central Kitsap High School graduate — whose class voted her "biggest flirt" and "most likely to be remembered" — had taken a job at Templeton's grocery store in Tracyton when two postal employees rushed in to see her one day in 1975. "We have an emergency," she remembers them saying — and they needed her almost immediately.

So she went to work for them, although she took time away when each of her three children — first Miranda, then Melissa and finally Alex — were born.

She's worked and managed post offices in not just Tracyton and Bremerton, but also Silverdale, Union and Olalla. For a time, she was a "bulk mail" technician, tasked with keeping mail sorting machines going. And since January 2011, Hendershot has been a permanent fixture behind the counter downtown.

Hendershot jokes that she'll have to create a "cackle button" for her colleagues to push when she's gone.

But who will replace Hendershot, a customer asked the 62-year-old recently?

"Someone quieter," Hendershot responded.

___

Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/



 

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