News

Longtime Woodside Postal Service worker hangs up her hat

A miniature brown horse walks into a post office. No, this isn't the start of a bad joke; this was a typical day in Woodside six years ago.

Woodside lead post office clerk Lydia Vasquez on her final day of work on June 30, 2021. Courtesy Lydia Vasquez.

Debra Mattmann, the owner of Twister, the tiny horse in question, pointed out that there were "no dogs allowed" signs in the Woodside Road post office, but none that said "no horses allowed." This is just one fond memory Lydia Vasquez, 57, had as lead clerk of Woodside's post office.

"It's a horsey town," said Vasquez, who worked for the Postal Service for nearly 37 years, 16 of them in Woodside. Her final day was June 30.

Vasquez started out as a distribution clerk with the U.S. Postal Service in Redwood City at 1100 Broadway when she was 20. Her mom felt her job at Advanced Micro Devices at the time "wasn't good enough" and urged her to apply to the USPS, especially since the organization was recruiting Latino people at the time.

Growing bored with her Postal Service job in Redwood City, an opening popped up in Woodside and Vasquez applied. She recalled the warm welcome she received from residents her first week there.

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"I was so nervous — I knew it was an influential area," said Vasquez, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, and now lives in Los Altos. "A customer who reminds me of my mom, Cynthia Jamplis, grabbed my hands and said: 'Welcome to Woodside.'"

At the time, the postal service was switching from manual machines to computerized machines and everything was getting digitized. "The first week was extremely fast training," she said.

Over the years, Vasquez said she tried to keep the office upbeat, playing music on her Pandora, putting candy and doggie treats on the front desk for customers. At one point, she put out oranges at the request of customers, since Woodsiders tend to be healthier, and she displayed a chalkboard by the front window with positive sayings. She said people would come from San Carlos or Palo Alto for the Woodside post office's customer service. Yelp reviewers sing the praises of Vasquez and her former coworker Joe Dizon. (The small post office is just staffed by two employees).

"What I've always loved about living in Woodside is the small-town feeling," said Woodside resident Michele Colucci in an email. "Lydia's face always has a smile on it. ... Does not matter how long it takes you to fumble with your packages or to write the labels. Or how many children are tugging on your skirt and demanding your attention while you're at the window."

Colucci described Vasquez as very patient, defying every stereotype of postal employees. "Lydia has a beautiful spirit and I know she will be sorely missed by us all," she said.

Decision to retire

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In March, Vasquez started thinking about retiring. She said she wanted to "walk," "not crawl" out of her job at the post office.

The pandemic also took its toll on her. The post office kept its normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.), but fewer customers stopped in for fear of catching the virus. She adjusted to wearing a mask, but was unused to customers feeling uneasy and fearful.

"Especially working in Woodside, I got pretty close to my customers," she said. "I shared tidbits of my life. People were afraid of being too close; it took its toll. I wear my feelings on my sleeve. Overall I still tried to create the same dynamics before the pandemic."

She continued to put candy on the counter, but everyone was afraid to touch anything.

With 1,000 P.O. Boxes at the office, there was still an influx of people coming to pick up their mail, but they just were not very social, she said.

Customers commented that Vasquez was too young to retire.

"I'm not as young as you guys think," she retorted.

A 'beautiful' sendoff

Woodside teens Geoffrey Nelson, far left, and Lorenzo Wolczko, center, perform at Lydia Vasquez's retirement party on June 30, 2021, in Woodside. Courtesy Lydia Vasquez.

Vasquez described her going away party as "beautiful." There were balloons, a bottle of wine, a musical performance and so many flowers that her home looked like a flower shop when she brought them home.

She was surprised by the high turnout — about 25 people — given the number of people on vacation and the ongoing pandemic.

She'll miss the banter she had with her coworker Dizon, who she worked with for at least a decade.

"We acted like an old married couple," she said. "We would always tease each other. When I left I said: 'Good riddance.' ... I'll miss having someone to joke with on a daily basis, eight hours a day."

She'll also miss the homemade candy and baked goods from customers, she said.

Residents gifted Lydia Vasquez flowers, wine, farewell letters and other gifts on her final day of work on June 30, 2021. Courtesy Lydia Vasquez.

Vasquez said she received about 35 letters from customers expressing their well wishes and support for her retirement. She's kept a file of the letters, along with her retirement banner, photos from her last day on the job and old Christmas cards from customers over the years.

What's next for Vasquez? She plans to travel with her friend Ana Carmelita, the former Redwood City postmaster.

"I wanted to spend time with her and live the life she was living," Vasquez said. They plan to travel to Ecuador and Vasquez plans to spend time with friends and family she wasn’t able to see during the pandemic -- "my job being so in the face of the public" -- over concerns about COVID-19 exposure.

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Longtime Woodside Postal Service worker hangs up her hat

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Jul 28, 2021, 11:27 am

A miniature brown horse walks into a post office. No, this isn't the start of a bad joke; this was a typical day in Woodside six years ago.

Debra Mattmann, the owner of Twister, the tiny horse in question, pointed out that there were "no dogs allowed" signs in the Woodside Road post office, but none that said "no horses allowed." This is just one fond memory Lydia Vasquez, 57, had as lead clerk of Woodside's post office.

"It's a horsey town," said Vasquez, who worked for the Postal Service for nearly 37 years, 16 of them in Woodside. Her final day was June 30.

Vasquez started out as a distribution clerk with the U.S. Postal Service in Redwood City at 1100 Broadway when she was 20. Her mom felt her job at Advanced Micro Devices at the time "wasn't good enough" and urged her to apply to the USPS, especially since the organization was recruiting Latino people at the time.

Growing bored with her Postal Service job in Redwood City, an opening popped up in Woodside and Vasquez applied. She recalled the warm welcome she received from residents her first week there.

"I was so nervous — I knew it was an influential area," said Vasquez, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, and now lives in Los Altos. "A customer who reminds me of my mom, Cynthia Jamplis, grabbed my hands and said: 'Welcome to Woodside.'"

At the time, the postal service was switching from manual machines to computerized machines and everything was getting digitized. "The first week was extremely fast training," she said.

Over the years, Vasquez said she tried to keep the office upbeat, playing music on her Pandora, putting candy and doggie treats on the front desk for customers. At one point, she put out oranges at the request of customers, since Woodsiders tend to be healthier, and she displayed a chalkboard by the front window with positive sayings. She said people would come from San Carlos or Palo Alto for the Woodside post office's customer service. Yelp reviewers sing the praises of Vasquez and her former coworker Joe Dizon. (The small post office is just staffed by two employees).

"What I've always loved about living in Woodside is the small-town feeling," said Woodside resident Michele Colucci in an email. "Lydia's face always has a smile on it. ... Does not matter how long it takes you to fumble with your packages or to write the labels. Or how many children are tugging on your skirt and demanding your attention while you're at the window."

Colucci described Vasquez as very patient, defying every stereotype of postal employees. "Lydia has a beautiful spirit and I know she will be sorely missed by us all," she said.

In March, Vasquez started thinking about retiring. She said she wanted to "walk," "not crawl" out of her job at the post office.

The pandemic also took its toll on her. The post office kept its normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.), but fewer customers stopped in for fear of catching the virus. She adjusted to wearing a mask, but was unused to customers feeling uneasy and fearful.

"Especially working in Woodside, I got pretty close to my customers," she said. "I shared tidbits of my life. People were afraid of being too close; it took its toll. I wear my feelings on my sleeve. Overall I still tried to create the same dynamics before the pandemic."

She continued to put candy on the counter, but everyone was afraid to touch anything.

With 1,000 P.O. Boxes at the office, there was still an influx of people coming to pick up their mail, but they just were not very social, she said.

Customers commented that Vasquez was too young to retire.

"I'm not as young as you guys think," she retorted.

Vasquez described her going away party as "beautiful." There were balloons, a bottle of wine, a musical performance and so many flowers that her home looked like a flower shop when she brought them home.

She was surprised by the high turnout — about 25 people — given the number of people on vacation and the ongoing pandemic.

She'll miss the banter she had with her coworker Dizon, who she worked with for at least a decade.

"We acted like an old married couple," she said. "We would always tease each other. When I left I said: 'Good riddance.' ... I'll miss having someone to joke with on a daily basis, eight hours a day."

She'll also miss the homemade candy and baked goods from customers, she said.

Vasquez said she received about 35 letters from customers expressing their well wishes and support for her retirement. She's kept a file of the letters, along with her retirement banner, photos from her last day on the job and old Christmas cards from customers over the years.

What's next for Vasquez? She plans to travel with her friend Ana Carmelita, the former Redwood City postmaster.

"I wanted to spend time with her and live the life she was living," Vasquez said. They plan to travel to Ecuador and Vasquez plans to spend time with friends and family she wasn’t able to see during the pandemic -- "my job being so in the face of the public" -- over concerns about COVID-19 exposure.

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