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In spring of 1986 I took a part time job at Canada Post sorting mail. I had an art habit, a bad one, and I needed a day job, or as it turned out, an evening job, to support it. I recall I even wrote on my application that I would only need this work for a couple years while I worked on my art career. OK, I was being very optimistic. They hired me anyway.

After they called me, I had to go for a dexterity test. I was given a one hand keyboard and a list of postal codes. The idea was that I punch each postal code in using the keyboard, except I was only allowed a limited number of errors – oh and there was a time limit. I recall thinking, oh no, I’m not very good at this sort of thing. I’ll never pass. However, I was determined to make no errors so I really took my time carefully pressing each button accurately. I was really nervous. When I finished, I looked around and everybody else was still working. I must have done something terribly wrong. Oh no, I’ve blown the mission. I sat there for several minutes and everybody else just kept working. Finally, I thought I might as well just leave, since I’ve failed the test anyway, so I did just that.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. I didn’t make any errors and I completed the test in about half the allotted time. All that was left for me to do was carry a bag of mail across the room to show I could lift it, and swear allegiance to the Queen (honest), and the gig was mine.

Canada Post has been good to me. I’ve been able to reinvent myself several times over the years, and do a number of different jobs, some of which I never for a moment I imagined I’d be doing. At one point I managed the biggest shift at the biggest parcel plant in the country. More recently I’ve done a variety of communications and media relations work. I think I’ve done some of those jobs pretty well, and I’ve always tried to give a strong effort. Along the way, I’ve had more than a few adventures.

When I started as a part time postal clerk, I looked at the benefit structure and saw that if I stuck it out with the company for 7 years, I would get an additional week of vacation leave. 7 years. That’s a long time, I thought. Who knew it would in fact be a blink of the eye. Fast forward 30 years. I’m still working at the post office. I still have the art habit (it’s still bad – I’ve tried to quit, but always I need just one more hit, and then I’m back to it again).

My various jobs with Canada Post have afforded me a good living, and now I find myself with a new prospect. I can retire from the work-a-day world. The word scares me a little. It makes me feel like a dinosaur. I’ll get over that, though, and I’m going to start that retirement in April. Working at the same place for a really long time is something that doesn’t happen so much these days. I can tell you it is a strange feeling, having picked a date to leave, knowing after all that time being associated with the same organization, I will be leaving it behind me in just over 2 months.

I’m really looking forward to the prospect of spending lots more hours in the studio painting and also making mosaics. I have a painting exhibition coming up at Yumart in September, which will include a suite of new encaustic paintings along with a selection of older paintings, including works from as early as the 80s. As regular visitors to this blog know, I’ve also been writing stories, and I want to invest more time in making up more of those. And then there is the banjo. One thing I’d love to do is find a couple other old time players who are interested in getting together to play music regularly, and work up a bunch of tunes together.

New adventures ahead.




  1. Congratulations Eugene!! A full-time second career around the corner! And won’t your pet family love it too!! I remember when Jim and I left our jobs in 2000 to then devote full-time energy and passion to our vintage poster business. We never called it “retiring.” You are no dinosaur! 🙂

  2. Congrats, Eugene!
    Sounds like you’ll have an amazing retirement. Having personal time for creativity is a dream! Looking forward to seeing more of your stunning mozaics 🙂

  3. Deb

    Our previous mailman was also a photographer, I had known him for years as a photographer before he took on our route. He struggled with the idea of retirement until a leg injury pushed him in the direction to finally do it. Retirement has been good for him, he is back to shooting for love. And guess what, he still pops by on a summer day, sits on the deck with us and shoots the breeze just like he used to do over the mail box. Enjoy retirement….it will be good to you!

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