Retiring postmaster will miss the people

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Altamont Postmaster Bob Bailey smiles as he hands a package to post-office patron Doug Peterman on Friday.

ALTAMONT — “I’m going to miss them. Now you’re going to make me cry. That’s the hardest part of leaving — the people.”

That was the last sentence of Bob Bailey’s response to: What do you want the residents of Altamont to know?

His answer began, “Oh my gosh, it has been a pleasure, I mean a pleasure  — underline pleasure. Meeting everyone here in the village and up the Hill, that come in here frequently; daily, weekly, monthly.  And it’s been my honor, my pleasure to work for them — serve them would be the proper word — for all these years.”

After 27 years of service with the United States Postal Service, the last five as Altamont’s postmaster, Bob Bailey is retiring.  

“He’s probably one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. He goes above and beyond for not only us, but for everyone in the village as well. He’s extremely understanding. He wants to make sure that we are happy and ok before himself,” says Martyna Crisafulli, who has worked in the Altamont post office for the past two years.

She says, “We’re all devastated that he’s leaving, we’re just so lucky to have a boss like him … he’s the best boss I could ever ask for.”

Bailey began sorting mail at the Albany Processing and Distribution Center on Karner Road in Colonie, in the fall of 1990. He worked the graveyard shift for seven years, before moving to days and into customer service for the next nine.  Two years in finance was followed by short stints as postmaster in Feura Bush, and acting postmaster in Glenmont and Voorheesville, ending with his time in Altamont.

His immediate post-retirement plan includes sleep. “I’m here at five every morning, I look forward to sleeping until at least six,” he says. Looking ahead, Bailey says he has home renovations he wants to tackle and plans on buying a home on the Delaware shore to bring his family to.

Bailey said his favorite part of being a post office employee all these years, was“dealing with and working with the public, I absolutely love that. I love being on the window.”

Asked about one moment that stood out for him, Bailey cited a moment that happened repeatedly over the years. “Most of the time, if people want to see the postmaster, they have a complaint. So, what I like the most — I assume they have an issue or concern — and they, instead, want to compliment my staff here in Altamont, or myself, for something that we’ve done. That makes my day,” he said.

And Bailey’s workers praise him as well. Nicole Robertson, who has been in the Altamont post office for 11 years, says, “He jumps in, he goes beyond” what is required of his job. “He will bend over backwards for you, he’ll work 12-, 14-hour days. Yup, he will definitely be missed.”

Patrons appreciate Bailey, too, including the co-publishers of The Enterprise, Marcello Iaia and Melissa Hale-Spencer, who mail thousands of newspapers each week.

“Bob Bailey is a caring man.” said Hale-Spencer. “Last year, just before Christmas, I noticed a red mailbox on the post-office counter for letters to Santa. I thought it would make a nice story and started peppering him with questions like, 'Where do the letters really go?' He said, 'The North Pole.' Or, 'Who really answers the letters?' He replied, 'Santa.' He had noticed something I should have — a wide-eyed little girl standing beside her mother at the counter.”

Iaia says, “Bob’s very good at customer service at both ends, not just the customer at the counter, but also those of us coming through the loading dock,” adding,”He helps unload and organize the newspapers on the dock, which he doesn’t have to do.”

Reflecting on her time in the Altamont post office with Bailey in charge, Crisafulli says, “This is an office that we can call home.”

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