NATCHITOCHES PARISH (KTAL/KMSS) – One postal worker in Louisiana really has her work cut out for her. Her route covers a whopping 153 miles through rural areas in Natchitoches Parish, the longest route in the state.
Kim Ferguson loves to serve her community and meet the people along the 500 stops on her route, most of which are individual homes.
“I’ll start in Robeline, Louisiana, and I’ll end up all the way out to the Natchitoches exit on the interstate. And then all in between, not a lot of highway. I have mostly woods,” said Ferguson.
She starts out at 8:30 in the morning and usually finishes her last stop around 4:30 p.m.
Ferguson started in the Zwolle Post Office four years ago before working full-time at the Robeline office. One of her favorite things about the job is the places she gets to see. Most of the route covers dirt roads through wooded areas, where she comes across lots of animals including wild hogs, otters, wild turkeys, squirrels, and a lot of deer.
And yes, she also sees alligators.
“There’s one pond in front of these one people’s house, and I counted. I thought it was just one gator. And one day I went by, and they were sunning out on the edge. It was four gators. And I remember one time it flooded right there and I took a picture. I wish I had it now, but it was two gators and the deer crossing the road right where it flooded at. I thought that was the neatest thing, to have it all in one.”
Ferguson’s favorite by far is her dog, Charley Boy. She met Charley Boy along her route, but he became a part of the family after she rescued him from a shelter in Natchitoches. He would run to greet her nearly every day when he saw her Ford EcoSport coming up the road.
But then one day he just stopped coming to meet her.
“I swear he’d come running from a mile away. He’d come running, and then he was missing. And I asked them ‘Where is my boy?’ and they said he was at the shelter. I said, ‘Oh, he’s not staying there.’ So, I adopted him and brought him home with me,” she said.
Ferguson says what brings her to work every day is knowing how important the mail is to everyone.
“We carry so much medicine for our elderly customers, and most of them get their government checks mailed to them. I don’t see how they could survive without the Postal Service.”
And the United States Postal Service is proud to have her.
“I am so fortunate in that all of my carriers are such dedicated employees,” said Postmaster James Sayles. “I marvel at Kim when she returns from her route and shares some of her backroad stories.”
But being a mail carrier isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The position comes with its challenges, too.
Bad weather, like Tuesday’s line of storms, makes some rural roads impassable. That can add an extra 25 miles to her route. She occasionally gets flat tires but says the Postal Service gives her money to cover them.
Because of her rural route, she has learned to change them herself and is handy with a tire plug.
But Ferguson says the post office is a great place to work, and she’ll help anyone interested in joining. Sometimes she rides along with new hires on her off days, helping them learn their routes.
“I’ve actually tried to talk my boys into coming and doing it, but when the position was available, they got new places. Now I’ve got grandbabies coming. I actually got one due tomorrow. That’ll be my third little grandson, so I’m super excited about that! And I told my little girl. She said, ‘Mom, I want to go to college.’ I said, ‘You can, but I would rather you work for the Postal Service. Great benefits, and if I can get you in early, it’s awesome.”