For the first time in more than 23 years, Chuck Ferguson doesn’t have to roll out of bed, don his uniform and head to his post at the counter of the local post office.
“I’m not going to miss getting up early in the morning,” laughed Ferguson, whose postal career ended last Friday, December 30, with his retirement. “That getting up at 4:30 or 5 every morning gets old after a while. It will be a while before I can sleep past then, but at least I won’t have to get up. I can roll over and go back to sleep. I don’t plan on getting up (that early) unless I have to.”
Ferguson, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who has been a fixture at the U.S. Postal Service’s Atmore branch since 1993, said the time had come to turn in his keys to the facility. He considers himself lucky to have worked inside the building throughout his career.
“Twenty years is enough,” he said. “I was 20 years in the Navy, and I’ve been here 23 years and 20 days. I’ve been at the front desk up there since 2000 and I worked in the back for my other seven years. I’ve always been inside where it’s cool, dry, warm or whatever.”
Ferguson moved to the front counter when Marvin Risher retired and was there when local postmaster Lester Cogollo came on board. Cogollo said he quickly learned to rely on Ferguson to handle things at the counter without much oversight or interference.
“I got here in 2000, and he was already here,” Cogollo said. “He’s been the cornerstone here at the window; he takes care of everything. The postal service has gone through a lot of changes since then, and Chuck has kept up with everything. As far as the customers, he gives that extra, goes that extra mile. We’re here to give the customer service, and that’s what Chuck is all about.”
SOX, the common term for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, was enacted to “improve corporate governance and enhance the accuracy of financial reporting” in the wake of several corporate scandals that erupted in the late 20th century and early 21st century. As far as USPS is concerned, the requirements are designed to reinforce public trust in the postal service, strengthen financial integrity and accountability and standardize processes and systems to reduce costs.
“Chuck has made sure we met all our SOX requirements, and we’ve done well,” Cogollo said.
Ferguson said the memories he would take with him are of his former co-workers and the customers he has served for the past two-plus decades.
“The people I work with and the customers up at the counter, that’s what I’ll remember most,” he said. “I’ve met some good people, and I know some of them just by their PO box numbers. I’ve seen kids grow up from babies to high school. Their mamas used to carry them into the post office; now some of them pretty much carry their mamas. I always tried to the best I could for them. About 99 percent of them, maybe more than that, are good people.”
He also asserted that he and his wife have no plans to leave Atmore.
“Atmore is the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “I grew up in a town of about 1,000 people (Athens, Ill.), so this is a big town to me. I’ve made some lifetime friends here, so I’m not going anywhere. If I do, it will be to the (William F. Green) Veterans Home in Bay Minette.”
The retired postal clerk and his wife, Jamie, have four children: Sandra, who lives in Atmore; Amanda (Columbus, Miss.); Chris (Virginia Beach, Va.); and David, who lives in Canada and is the father of the couple’s two grandchildren, one of whom they’ve never met. He and Jamie plan to rectify that, now that he has retired.
“I’m sure she has a ‘honey-do’ list for me, and I now have two yards to take care of since I inherited my mother’s yard when I retired,” he said. “That will keep me busy for a while. We’ll probably do a lot of traveling, too. We’ll go to Canada to see my son and our grandkids. One of them is 2 or 3 years old, and I’ve never seen her, except on Facebook.”
Does he have any regrets over leaving his job?
“I’m good,” he said. “Twenty-three years is enough. I’ve enjoyed all but about five minutes of it. I’m not sure where, but I am sure that there’s five minutes somewhere that I didn’t enjoy.”