For years, Robert Delvishio has been telling visitors to the West Menlo Park post office that he's wanted to have his name in the Almanac. For his retirement, he'll finally get his wish.
Robert Delvishio, affectionately called "Bob Number One" to differentiate him from his coworker and friend Bob Emperador, or "Bob Number Two," brought a unique sense of humor and joy to the post office for 15 years.
As a postal worker, first in Philadelphia and later when he transferred to Menlo Park, he understood that a little levity goes a long way. With the exception of the DMV, people hate standing in line at the post office more than at any other place, he says. He's always tried to ease the pain of this much-loathed errand by being personable and fun.
This occasionally got him into hot water with managers, who tried to force him to act more seriously.
"I mean, we're selling stamps here," Bob scoffs.
Things are not looking good for the U.S. Postal Service, he says, and the last thing officials should do is reduce the experience to strictly business, which will only drive people to use online shipping services. He believes that his customer-driven approach to working the postal counter keeps customers coming back -- people from all over the county.
"This is the best post office on the Peninsula," he claims.
From helping senior customers fill out forms to gently informing Menlo Park mothers attempting to overnight-ship baked goods to their college kids that those brownies will, in fact, probably not arrive still warm, customer service has been a priority. "That's hardly left in a neighborhood," he says.
When Mr. Delvishio departs, he'll miss the people of Menlo Park, he says. "They're the nicest people I've ever met."
He says he got along especially well with what he calls the "Menlo moms," adding, "I watched these people's kids grow up," he said.
In his 15 years in Menlo Park, Mr. Delvishio says, he's learned a lot about the people of Silicon Valley and California. When he first started on the job, his Philadelphia-rooted loud humor didn't fit well with his customers. But over the years, he notes, people have warmed to his humor.
Though he'd like to stay in the area, due to ongoing health problems and increased rent prices, Mr. Delvishio plans to relocate to Las Vegas, where he hopes to learn more about the art, music, and Native American culture there.
Though retirement has come earlier than he expected, Mr. Delvishio says he has made peace with it. "Retiring is weird. You don't want to feel old and ancient. But I'm OK with it. I like not working."
To show their appreciation for Mr. Delvishio, West Menlo Park post office customers requested that he host a farewell party. Community members stopped by the post office on Sept. 17 to wish Mr. Delvishio well, have a cookie, and add a few bucks to Bob's "Gas Money for Nevada" bucket.
One customer called him a "community institution," and said she'd be sad to see him go.
Tom Mein, another local resident, said, "This guy has one of the greatest senses of humor." As Mr. Mein shook the retiree's hand goodbye, he told him with a smile, "You were good to everyone here."