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'A pat on the back': Postal worker delivers meals to those who helped him beat coronavirus

Montgomery post office worker David Love delivers meals Thursday, May 21, 2020, to employees at the Pike Road post office in Montgomery, Alabama.

COURTESY PHOTO/MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER

By BRAD HARPER | Montgomery Advertiser, Ala. | Published: May 23, 2020

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(Tribune News Service) — At 6 feet 9 inches tall and 340 pounds, David Love is a mountain of a man, and plain-spoken. He doesn't get sick much and can handle most things on his own.

But the Air Force veteran struggles to form the words as he describes what post office workers have done to help him, his family and others across the nation during the pandemic.

"They deserve a pat on the back," Love said, his voice choking with emotion.

He delivered one Thursday. Love bought 255 meals from Chappy's Deli to feed everyone on duty at the post office's packaging and delivery center in Montgomery where he works as an automation clerk, and he bought another 20 meals to feed the staff of the Pike Road Post Office.

Love finished the day with a 1:30 a.m. delivery of 45 meals to the overnight staff at Baptist Medical Center East.

Post office workers here and across the nation have been working short-handed to make sure the mail gets safely delivered while colleagues fall ill. In a text early Friday morning, Love said if the donation made just a single worker understand how much they mean to him, "then I know what God sent me to do was worth every penny spent."

For Love, this was personal.

The 45-year-old Montgomery native didn't think much of it when he got a sinus infection while off work in late March, but he just couldn't bounce back from this one like he usually did. He had to call in sick for his next shift.

A few days later, his wife had to call an ambulance.

By the time he was hospitalized, his fever had topped 104 and he was dangerously dehydrated. Over the next 11 days in the hospital he lost 32 pounds.

With the help of the Baptist nursing staff, he made it out of the woods and was released April 15. But things were still tough at home. "Water tasted like metal. Nothing tasted good," Love said. "It looked good. It just didn't taste right."

He had to stay apart from his family and couldn't pick up his kids. He'd try to move and would see stars and be forced to sit back down.

One morning his wife saw him eating cereal and noticed that the box was empty. She asked if he had just eaten the whole box. "I guess I did. I guess my appetite is back," Love laughed.

Through it all, his neighbors, friends and church family – many of whom were his post office co-workers – had helped out. They brought food to his family, did chores and cut the grass, at a time when the post office was short-staffed.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported April 6 that a worker at the Montgomery packaging and distribution center died of complications related to COVID-19, and two days later the USPS confirmed a worker at another Montgomery postal facility had tested positive for the virus. Quarantines and other precautions left the distribution center here working with less than half their usual staff at times, Love said.

"There were a lot of people that worked 20-plus days in a row to get the mail out," he said. "Everybody still got their mail. They still got their packages."

Love said every employee in every post office across the United States is dealing with staffing issues during the pandemic, and he wants them all to know how much they are appreciated "specifically now with the post office in the news and being scrutinized."

"I don't want the folks in the post office to panic because we need to work as one and get the job done," he said. "... We stand together as the backbone of every community, city, and state, along with first responders and (health care workers)."

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(c)2020 the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.)
Visit the Montgomery Advertiser at www.montgomeryadvertiser.com
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