FARMINGDALE — A joke between town office staff and a retired postman birthed one of the strangest oddities in Farmingdale’s Town Hall: A comb in the bathroom.

Town office staff hung up this comb in the restroom on Tuesday at the Farmingdale town office as a joke for now retired USPS letter carrier Eric Anderson, whose route used to cover the office.

A brown comb, labeled “Eric’s Comb,” sits next to the bathroom’s mirror, a nod to former mail carrier Eric Anderson’s signature euphemism for using the bathroom.

Assistant Town Clerk Natalie Jackson said office staff would need a little extra time to prepare their mail when Anderson would arrive, presenting the mailman a chance to take a quick bathroom break.

“If we weren’t ready, he’d loop around back,” she said. “He’d say, ‘I’ll go in and comb my hair.'”

Anderson, of Augusta, spent 42 years as a mailman, including 17 years working from the Gardiner postal office and 25 in Presque Isle. He said his favorite parts of the mail-carrying job were spending time outside and interacting with customers.

“When you’re dealing with the same people day in, day out … they know quite a bit about you,” Anderson said. “You do that year after year, you get to develop a bond almost like family.”

Anderson said he had a number of elderly customers on his route who required some extra service, like hand-delivering mail instead of dropping it in their roadside box. He said these small actions are worth the extra time, because those customers may only interact with a few people each day.

Eric Anderson, seen at the Gardiner Post Office on Dec. 31, 2018.

“It was more than delivering mail,” Anderson said.  “It’s the little things that people remember and appreciate.”

Kathy Keeney, acting supervisor of the Gardiner Post Office, worked with Anderson during his full tenure in Gardiner. She said he would often bend rules to help out customers on his route.

“Sometimes he’s too nice, if that’s possible.” Keeney said. “He broke the rules, going too far sometimes; even though we’re supposed to deliver to a certain point.”

Keeney said Anderson had a number of signature sayings, including, “It’s a good day to deliver mail,” along with “combing his hair.” He was known as Mr. Rogers in the mail room, Keeney said, because he would often change his sweater and shoes before going out to his route.

“He would come back from his route, and I would say I had something to say to him, and he said, ‘hold on, I have to comb my hair,'” she said. “Just his demeanor was a lot like (Mr. Rogers).”

Cindy Burnham, Farmingdale’s deputy town clerk, said the comb was put up around Christmas time in 2017 as a joke. She said Anderson was always a treat to deal with in the town office.

Town Clerk Rose Webster, left, and Eric Anderson talk about the comb hanging in the restroom during an interview on Tuesday at the Farmingdale town office. The comb was hung up by town office staffers as a joke for Anderson, who recently retired as a USPS letter carrier for the office.

“He was always so cheerful; he could never say a bad word about anyone or anything,” Burnham said. “That made him so different.”

Jackson said she was “devastated” when she was told he was retiring after Dec. 31, 2018. She said the office staff asked Anderson if he wanted his comb from the bathroom, but he declined.

A new temporary carrier runs Anderson’s route, and Burnham said they have big shoes to fill.

“We think he’s wonderful, but he’s not Eric,” she said. “We wouldn’t expect him to be like Eric, but we’re training him.”

Anderson called the people of Gardiner and Farmingdale the “salt of the earth.” He said he would miss seeing his customers every day, but he would stay busy by performing a list of tasks his wife has for him around the house.

 

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666
[email protected]
Twitter: @SamShepME

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