COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — It was a gut thing.
When Isaac Fish stamped through the snow to the home of a senior citizen on Tuesday, everything seemed normal.
But when the postal carrier flipped open Eugenie Simons' mailbox, stationed at her front door to save her legs the stress down the driveway, he tingled with suspicion.
"I noticed, 'Gosh, it looks like it's been a couple days since she checked this. There's a parcel and mail, and she always picks up her mail,'" he said. "I just had a funny feeling. I thought I'd better knock on her door, and if she's OK, then no big deal. I'll just say hi and talk to her.
"Come to find out, she wasn't," Fish said.
Simons had fallen and wasn't able to get off the floor, where she had held on for as long as five days without food or water. She had no company but her dog until the postal worker appeared on the porch.
After knocking on her door, Fish thought he heard her muffled voice through the door but couldn't make out what she was saying.
He checked in with her neighbors, who thought that Simons had a caretaker there, but he found it strange that the caretaker wouldn't pick up the mail.
He called the post office for advice, and a co-worker notified the police. When the officers arrived, they were convinced the woman was calling for help, and dialed the fire department to ram her door.
They found Simons on the ground, disoriented, with her dog looking shaky and unfed.
"She wasn't making a lot of sense, but she said she fell on the 23rd, and yesterday was the 27th," Fish said on Wednesday. "That's ugly, that's not good. I don't like that to happen to anyone."
Simons was treated at the Kootenai Medical Center this week, but released Thursday. She couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
Because Simons' neighborhood isn't part of an official route, different mail carriers hit her street each day, and wouldn't know if anything was wrong, Fish said.
"I felt like God must have had his hand in it to have me there and give me the feeling and the drive and determination to get it taken care of," he said.
He plans to check up on Simons every time he drops a letter in her mailbox from now on, he added.
"We need to take time out of our work schedules to take care of people, because they're a priority," he said.
Coeur d'Alene Postmaster Dave Hoover said this is the third time this winter that a postal worker has discovered an older person trapped in a home.
"A lot of times (mail carriers are) the eyes and ears of the community," he said.
Hoover has nominated Fish for a national postal carrier award.10 comments on this story
"He's a great guy, very outgoing and a friendly carrier," he said. "He did the right thing, and we're very proud of him."
Fish, 21, already strives to keep tabs on other folks on his route, even if it's just by knocking on the door and saying hello.
The warm exchanges add a sense of purpose to his day, he said.
"It makes me feel like it's not just a job when you're involving basically every person you deliver to, and that ends up being a lot of people," he said. "It's not just a job; it's everyone's life."