- Courtesy of Jamie Carroll
- Rita Glück
Hand-painted signs and bunches of balloons adorned downtown Montpelier businesses on November 30. The decorations honored Rita Glück, a mail carrier who was retiring that day.
Glück, who started working at the Montpelier Post Office in 1991, hadn't told many people about her retirement, but her partner, Julia Chafets, put a notice on Front Porch Forum. So Glück was surprised on her route by cards, gifts and hugs that Tuesday.
Later her fans threw her a surprise party at North Branch Café. She teared up. "It became a whole different day for me when I realized all this stuff was happening for me," Glück said.
Montpelier's downtown district is tiny, with just one stoplight, and it is close-knit. A busy Facebook group for downtown business owners has about 40 members, "and the chat goes on all day," said Jamie Carroll, who manages North Branch Café and will soon become a co-owner. "It's not competitive; we really want success for everyone."
With her friendly, low-key presence, Glück fit in well and became close with many of the people on her route.
"She doesn't judge; she just listens, and she's curious. We love her for that," said Carroll, who helped organize the party. "She seems to be our city therapist."
Glück said she approached the U.S. Postal Service 30 years ago. After a seasonal job at a flower farm, she was looking for winter work.
"It's been a really good job for me both physically and mentally," said Glück, who once clocked her daily route at 24,000 steps, or more than 10 miles. She likes to be physically active, and she loved being invited in on occasion for coffee, birthday cake — and "OK, booze," she said, maybe once or twice.
"So many of these people I consider to be my family," Glück said. "And I know they considered me to be part of theirs."
Glück said she'll miss her route, but she's looking forward to having December off after years of working overtime around the holidays.
"I am excited about the possibilities that seem to be just sort of dropping in my lap right now," she said.