By Carol Masshardt
There are people who are at home in an office and only go outside to get back inside, but Nicole Alfano, a mail carrier for the past seventeen years, is not one of them. Serving the community on a route of six hundred addresses that takes up to six hours to complete, Nicole, at 42, is undaunted by weather, the weight of a bag or city streets.
“I love the South Boston community. There are so many nice people on my route and beyond. I see the same people every day and try to remember all the names on my route,” she said. This is no small goal in a community where she notes that many houses that were single family now have many units, and people move more than in years past. Still, it seems to be a natural fit for this Malden native and UMass Boston graduate.
“I think it all goes back to walking the streets of Cambridge with my Nana when I was a kid. Walking around and being outdoors has always been good for me, and is so much better than being inside,” she said.
Originally thinking of nursing, she was drawn to mail carrying after she finished school, and heard about the benefits of the post office, and so she started at Fort Point from 2005-2014, and has ever since been in South Boston. In addition, she is a marathon runner, and the job is in sync with her belief in using her body in both recreation and vocation.
” I love to run and did the Berlin, Germany Marathon in September, 2021. I also did New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Maine, and am planning some half marathons, and the Run to Remember in the Seaport. My dream is to run Boston, of course, but I don’t have the qualifying time, and to enter otherwise, the fundraising is difficult,” she said.
“The job is a workout, and I usually do it six days a week,” she said, as if it is just one more training regimen. “It is a satisfying job, and sometimes I deliver happy mail, such as college acceptances this time of year. A lot is electronic but still real mail, too.”
The daughter of a firefighter and accountant mother, Nicole is as reliable as she is strong, and is ready for anything. “Of course, the weather gets tough when there’s ice and snow, but you learn how to dress for it, and in the hot and humid times, I stop for extra breaths,” she said.
Nicole worked through the pandemic while many worked from home. There were more packages being delivered as people ordered online, and the same challenges with weather, and there are always some issues with dogs (and she is a self-described “dog-lover.”) She has a matter of fact way of talking about the weight she carries, or when a man on a motorized scooter fell and she intervened. It is all a part of being committed to the community.
The summary of her feelings about her job are clearly stated. “I love the outdoors, and I feel appreciated. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to use their body and walk,” she said. Nicole Alfano is unlikely to be tethered to an office as she continues to grace our changing streets.
(Carol Masshardt can be reached at email@example.com)