Having spent more than 32 years in government service — four years in the U.S. Navy and 28 with the United States Postal Service — Blake moved to the postmaster job at the Cartersville Post Office on Liberty Drive more than a decade ago.
“I was in Dallas for a year before I came here in Paulding County, but I came here in 2001,” he said. “I came for the pay grade increase. … Plus, I like the community. The community is really nice.”
The outdoorsmen, an Alabama native, came to Bartow County following stints in Marietta and Paulding County, bringing with him the “overflow” of taxidermied animals that adorn his office.
When asked about the 59-inch rattlesnake strategically placed between guests’ chairs, Blake admits to killing the serpent with a grapefruit-sized rock several years ago while picking blackberries.
Although the snake lost length when it was mounted, Blake said on the day he killed it “that snake was as big as an anaconda.”
Name: Greg Blake
Occupation: Cartersville Postmaster
City of Residence: Acworth
Family: I have a wife and one son who is a sophomore at [Kennesaw State University].
Education: Butler High School in Huntsville, Ala., and two years at Jacksonville State University
What does the postmaster do?
A: Basically, we regulate and make sure the service for the ZIP codes that we are responsible for, which for me is — right now, I’ve got several ZIP codes that we run mail for but that’s going to change — but right now, [30120, 30121 and 30137]. You know, I make sure we provide the delivery for those ZIP codes.
What is the biggest obstacle facing the U.S. Postal Service?
A: You just want one? … The decline in mail volume, service issues, just the red tape we have to deal with going through being a government institute where we have to have permission to do things unlike a lot of other companies that they do. The decline in volume is probably our biggest one.
How did you become the postmaster in Cartersville?
A: I bid on it when I was the postmaster in Dallas. I bid on the postmaster job in Cartersville and went through the review process and ended up getting selected.
What makes the postal service viable in today’s world of technology and shipping options?
A: There’s still a need for hard copy. We are really trying to make a push to come back on parcel delivery and priority parcel and express mail to get that. We visit every box every day unlike a lot of our competitors. With the community involvement that we have with our customers … We have some bad things but we try to make them right. When you deliver as much as we deliver, not everything always goes smooth.
What is the most unusual thing you have seen come through the post office?
A: Mail? ... Some we can talk about, some we can’t. I mean, there’s just all kinds of things. I guess sometimes some of the Christmas cards and stuff that come through that just say, “The first house on right. The red house in Cartersville,” that kind of stuff. We normally know where it goes because it’s not the first time we’ve got a landmarks that are addressed, envelopes that are addressed with a landmark. We go, “OK, they’ve got to be talking about the house behind the stone wall” or stuff like that … Those are some of the issues. But you know we have so much mailing restrictions that it’s either a letter, … parcel. It’s gotta meet the dimensions and certain things, so those oddities are gone that we deal with so much. We are not in the freight business. We try to make sure that we give our customers the best we can. And I think, overall, in Cartersville we do a good job. You know, some days we have bad days.
What makes Bartow County and Cartersville special?
A: The residents of it. I have been a postmaster in a lot of different counties. I worked in Marietta; I’ve worked in Paulding. Not to say they are bad but Bartow County is just still a place where people, a large percentage of them, still have a smile on their face. [It’s] just a good Southern town.
If you weren’t postmaster, what would you be doing? What is your dream job?
A: Retired. Dream job? I don’t know. I won’t ever retire, I don’t guess, from the workforce. I may retire from the service in a few years. But, I don’t know, just dealing with customers, something that stays involved with community and stuff. I stay very active with it.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I can’t I’m an Alabama fan or they may never come in here again. What would they be surprised? I don’t know, to tell you the truth. The ones that know me well, and I know a lot of the customers very well, I guess the … You know, surprised? I’m a very family-oriented man but I don’t know that that would be a surprise to the ones that know me. I’m really not sure what would surprise the average customer.
What’s your favorite meal?
A: Breakfast is my favorite meal. Basically, just the ol’ eggs and bacon type of guy.
How do you keep from “going postal?”
A: You know what, just, there’s always a solution to a problem. Yes, we have problems, not every day but days. You just, getting to the resolution of the problem and getting it fixed. You can’t take it personal. Sometimes we have people that don’t seem to understand how mail moves and stuff. … I’ve been here for 28 years in the post office and I will tell you, I have been very pleased with my job. I love my job.