Long-serving post office stalwart never out of sorts

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Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
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It's the end of the mail run for Wayne Smith, a 50-year Australia Post employee.
Camera IconIt's the end of the mail run for Wayne Smith, a 50-year Australia Post employee. Credit: Peter Sweeney

Wayne Smith scored an unbeaten half-century on Monday but on Tuesday his innings was over.

Mr Smith has notched up 50 years with Australia Post, being one of only two people to have worked in the three main post offices the port city has had.

He started his post office life as a telegram boy in Marine Terrace in the school holidays of 1968, and leaves Durlacher Street as a senior postal sorting officer.

In between, there was a stay at Chapman Road, when the post office headquarters was there.

Geraldton-born Mr Smith recently bumped into Les Rowe, the only other employee to have served at the three post offices.

“I told Les I was leaving and thanked him for what he taught me,” Mr Smith said.

“I said I had done 50 years and had been offered redundancy. Les said to me ‘I did 44 years, and they didn’t offer me redundancy’.”

Obviously, there have been countless changes over the years. The biggest?

“The change from bags to cages and the decline in letters,” Mr Smith said.

“Mail used to come here in bags, now it’s in cages — and 80 per cent of it is pre-sorted.

“And in the last five to 10 years, there has been a decline in letters. We constantly handled 30,000 letters a day (especially at this time of year), but now it’s down to eight or nine thousand.

“But with people shopping on ebay and Amazon and the likes, there has been an increase in parcels and packages.”

Asked to describe his career, Mr Smith doesn’t even have to think about his answer.

“I must have done OK. When I started, the mail room was full of a hard bunch of blokes and if you didn’t do your bit, you didn’t last,” he said.

“I’ve seen many postmasters or managers or whatever come and go.”

And the future?

“I’ve got a few things to do around home, like putting in a new kitchen,” he said.

“Put in solar panels and spend some time and money on the place. And maybe some travel in 2020.”

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