Chris Floyd's job in the Air Force was pretty cool: He loaded bombs on fighter jets, the F16s, F15s, F11s, F4s and A10s.
For 16 years he handled "anything that goes boom." It could be scary, but "that was part of the job. I loved it. It was an exciting job."
Ask Floyd about the job he has now, and he says something similar. "It's a perfect job. I get to be outside and on the move." He sees lots of people and walks several miles six days a week, sidestepping crime scenes when he has to. It's all part of the job.
Floyd, 51, of West Ashley, took a job as a United States postal carrier in 2000.
Financial woes plague the Postal Service. The dive in the economy and a spike in the number of people paying bills online have forced it to make major cuts.
Now, it must cut about $20 billion more, lay off 220,000 workers and close several offices to stay viable. Saturday delivery could be on the chopping block, an option favored by President Barack Obama.
About cutting Saturday service, Floyd says, "It just means higher volumes the day before or the day after."
One pooch problem
He said everyone is concerned about job security, but no carrier has been laid off.
Floyd mostly walks East Bay Street from Columbus to Mount Pleasant streets, and parts of Meeting, making about 1,000 deliveries a day.
Crime can be a problem on his route, so he keeps an open eye, but he hasn't experienced any. Be aware of your surroundings, maintain good relations with everyone and show respect to all. That's his best way of staying safe.
He did have a run-in with a family pet, however.
While "most dogs are friendly," Floyd said one once chomped on his leg, but he finished his route, went to the doctor the next day, and delivered the mail afterward.
All walks of life
Carriers get to know their customers well. "We see America. We see children grow up, get married. We see people on their best days and their worst days."
Once he delivered a certified letter informing the recipient that he had been laid off.
There are good days too.
One Christmas he delivered a large package to a Charleston Air Force Base home. A little girl came running out with excitement. "My dad sent me all this?" The father had been recently deployed. "That was cool to watch," he said.
Floyd, one of 147 city carriers, joined the carriers 10 years ago after retiring from the Air Force as a master sergeant.
He said many carriers have worked their routes for years. One carrier with 25 years of service estimated that he had walked more than 40,000 miles during his career.
Floyd said he goes through three pairs of shoes a year, but he has a few more miles yet to go.