SANGERVILLE, Maine — Sangerville rural postal carrier Barry Ellis had turned to retrieve a package from his back seat one minute, and the next minute, he was eyeballing a pigmy goat.
“The goat had hopped onto the hood of my car and was looking at me through my windshield,” Ellis recalled Sunday.
When Ellis began his career with the Postal Service in 1989, he was aware of the mail carriers’ motto that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” would keep him from his duty. He was warned about dogs, but no one ever said anything about goats.
Ellis, who retired from the Postal Service on Friday, laughed Sunday as he recalled the goat incident that occurred several years ago. It wasn’t his only brush with the pigmy goat, however.
Sometime later, Ellis said, he left a package on the doorstep of the same homeowner, who had the goat. The homeowner and Ellis had a pact that if the door was unlocked, he was to leave packages inside, but if the house was locked, he was to leave the packages on the doorstep.
Greeting the resident a few days later, Ellis said he asked whether she had found her package. The homeowner chuckled and replied that she had, but only a small piece of it. The goat had eaten the box and its contents.
“All that was left was a piece of cardboard,” Ellis recalled.
Ellis said the pact was quickly altered.
Ellis had been working full time for the former Guilford Industries when he decided to fill in Saturdays for a Guilford rural carrier. He later resigned from his mill job and eventually became a full-time rural carrier in Sangerville.
It was a move Ellis said he never regretted, despite the few disgruntled residents who didn’t get the mail they expected and the occasional slick roads. The worst day he ever encountered on the job, he said, was when ice coated the state in 1998. The ice storm made it treacherous driving, but the mail had to be delivered.
While his job was not the most exciting, Ellis said a couple of suspicious packages spiked the anxiety level a bit. He said a small box with no writing placed in an outside mail drop box was cautiously removed by the postmaster to a bucket outside and later was given to postal authorities, as was a letter that was terribly stained. Ellis said he never learned what the box or letter contained, if anything, and that was just fine with him.
“I’ve really enjoyed the job,” Ellis said, adding that he will miss the senior citizens he served.
Ellis, who never had an accident while on the job, was recognized Friday with a certificate of service from Sangerville Postmaster Ron Fowle.
Of his retirement, Ellis said, “I plan to lay low for a while, but I may get itchy feet.” If he does, he said, he will look for work in the volunteer field.