But, maybe lightning.
Despite City Letter Carrier Joey Byas’ biggest fear, this postman keeps the creed, delivering mail on his Fondren route, always with a courteous attitude – and an inviting smile.
Postal customers from Warrior Trail to Meadowbrook and West Street to Hawthorn know “Joey the mailman.” They often greet him with their own smiles and he, with the tip of his hat. Byas explains his now trademark tradition: “It started with a young lady recognizing it one day and it stuck. It’s brought smiles and so I’ve kept doing it. It’s different and it’s polite.”
Byas celebrates thirteen years with the postal service this month. His career began while still in college at the University of Mississippi and later Hinds Community College. He was a “casual,” a carrier without benefits or guarantees, during summer months. “I cried my first day on the route by myself,” he says. “We had these things called Dollar Savers (a direct mail piece), it was hot and the bag was heavy. I thought ‘How can I do this?’”
Thinking school was the better option, he returned to the classroom in the fall but by the next summer, his casual route took him to full time. Byas says he has stayed for all the right reasons. “It’s the people I work with and for,” he explains. “It sounds sappy, but it’s true: I love working with people!”
And people love him. Annually, Byas is invited to a Halloween party on Hawthorn, receives baked cookies on Robin, and gets a daily dose of sweet tea from “Mrs. Berry.”
He has his fair share of four-legged fans, too. He says there’s a cat that talks him to death on Hawthorn and, sometimes, he stops to pet a miniature horse named Willow on Chickasaw Avenue.
Byas is quick to serve. He can be found taking a trash can up from the street for an elderly customer or being an extra set of eyes and ears for police officers who ride the streets of his route. One customer says she will always remember him for leaving the flag up on her mailbox when a letter from her solider-in-training husband had arrived for the day. “If I told this to my average friends, they’d think it was so corny, but it’s the simple stuff,” he says. “I think of a billion ways to solve the world’s problems on my route every day.”
But why? Where does it all come from for “Joey the Mailman?” Maybe it’s that he was taught well growing up. His mother, a retired health care professional, is a people person. “She’s the one you saw and said, ‘I want that to be my nurse,’” Byas explains. “My dad gave me my work ethic, so, with the personality of my mom and dad put together, you get Joey.”
In elementary school, Byas wanted to be last in line to the lunch room so that he could turn off lights and shut the door, helping the teacher. He explains “It’s just kind-hearted, I guess.”
For customers who think they’re lucky enough to have a mail carrier like Byas, he says, “My pleasure.” With every cookie baked, every glass of sweet tea, a wave or honk of a horn, Joey says thank you. “These are my friends – and I love them.”
Update: Byas had been a supervisor at the Northside post office but chose to return to a mail route. Postal customers on Oakridge gleefully report seeing him at their boxes these days.