Teri Eifert, a rural mail carrier at the Douglassville Post Office, began the morning of Aug. 1 as she always doesordering her envelopes and parcels in preparation for delivery.This was no ordinary day, however. Eifert, a Shoemakersville resident, is retiring from her position after 23 years as a rural carrier.

"It's been a great job," Eifert said. "Once you get out on the road, you're your own boss. I wouldn't trade it for anything."

To mark the occasion, Eifert's co-workers threw a retirement party with food and decorations.

"She's a great worker," said Susan Ayers, a fellow rural carrier. "Just really dedicated. Really pleasant to be around. Never has a bad day. She cares about the customers."

Eifert said that she will miss the people along her route more than anything. Knowing of her retirement, many have given her cards.

Throughout the years, Eifert said that her customers have left snacks in the mailboxes, handed her cold drinks on summer days, helped her change a flat tire and tried to give her kittens. When her car broke down, residents invited her into their homes.

Eifert became a part-time rural carrier in the early 1980s, in part because the job allowed her to care for her young children. In time, Eifert moved on to full-time work.

As much as she enjoyed the job, Eifert said that there were occasional difficulties.

Winter weather once caused her to slide into a mailbox, and she drove into a ditch more than once. Snow and ice could turn a four-hour route into a six and a half-hour trial.

In the winter of '96, she drove to work through three-foot snows only to find that the post office was closed.

In the summertime, Eifert drove her route armed with a can of bee-killer in case she encountered a hive in one of the boxes.

In her retirement, Eifert plans to visit her two grandchildren, one three years old, the other only seven months.

She and her husband have also scheduled a summer trip to Alaska and a skiing outing in Western Canada next March. The couple bought a camper to make the drive more pleasant.

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