The postie has just been. Like any large organisation there is a lot of internal mail and communications and an RAF base is no different.
We have a “Central Registry” that organises it and distributes the mail – with different posties having different routes to go round a couple of times each day. It’s all very organised and all very sociable as, the posties become regulars in the places they visit. Normally you can set your watch by their visits.
Here at Benson the posties – or should I say postie – Nathan – a civvie – who comes to our workplace is the guy who does what we call the “Outer Circle Route” – visiting the sections well away from the Central Registry, ourselves and a couple of the more remote buildings over on the airfield. He does this in a little white Corsa van.
Posties are the lifeblood of information flow – and we always ask Nathan if he’s got the low-down on the latest news or gossip about the station and are pretty much the same all the RAF over. For instance the system was pretty similar when I was back at Cosford on my last posting.
Here though the poor posties had to do their routes on specially purchased bikes – trikes actually – with a large basket between the rear wheels…I say poor posties because they did this whatever the weather. And at Cosford they weren’t young fellas like here at Benson.
I am sure one of them who’s name was Al, must have been into his 60’s. Possibly older. In fact thinking on, I remember him riding his bike around the station when I was in my training there back in the late 80’s…and he was an oldish chap then. He must be getting into his 70’s. A wiry, sinewy man, as he spends his day on a bike, he was an excellent – if slightly doddery bloke. Doddery as he used to have just one conversation that lasted all through his round.
He’d go in to one work place and say “Hello” and get a similar reply, but he was speedy in his job and was out before the next line of the conversation which would probably be something like “Nice weather we’ve been having.” But he’s save that line for the NEXT place he went too – and then it would roll on from one place to the next. He’d often ignore any questions or comments he’d get given and continue with his OWN conversation irrespective of those replies.
And Al was rubbish at names. Well, he had his own names for people. For 4 years I was called “Andy” by him – despite my name being Alex, and after so long it becomes, well, a bit rude to tell him that he was getting my name wrong. I was often called Andy by my workmates for a couple of minutes or so after he’d been. Sigh.
And the final thing about him – ace as he was – was this. After spending all morning pushing his bike around the station and before he would spend the afternoon doing the same – guess what he did at lunchtime?Ohhh yes…you’re right. He went down the gym. Yep and no prizes for what this near-OAP did down there, bearing in mind he spend the day on a bike. Yep. 30 minutes on the exercise bike.
But you know what. Actually, I didn’t know how old he was. As I said, he MUST have been in his late 60’s at least. But it was difficult to tell. Simply cos he was so fit. He spent all day, well most of it, outside. In the spring and summer, on a day like today in mid-April with the blossom heavy on the trees and the sun shining, it must have been lovely. Ok it might have been a bit grim in the winter or on wet days but all jobs have a bit of rough and smooth. He gets to meet different people all through his working day, and chat to the people that he’d meet.
Here’s the thing, I love being outside. Even in my job as an instructor I used to take the trainees outside as often as I could. Being couped up in this office kills me sometimes. And today is one of those days. Sitting here in my office, looking out the window right now…I sort of envy him to be honest.