The thing I always enjoyed the most is the people, the friends I’ve made over the years. —Russ Muir
NORTH SALT LAKE — For 22 years, neither rain nor sleet nor snow stopped Russ Muir from doing his job at the North Salt Lake post office.
Time, however, is something nobody can beat.
"When I went in to work this morning, I broke down,” Muir said Friday, wiping his eyes.
It was his last day on the job.
"I want a change. There are other places I can serve, in the church or community. I'm not just going to sit here and sip lemonade," he said.
Including postal jobs in Layton, Woods Cross and Bountiful, Muir has spent 41 years working for the United States Postal Service.
That’s a long time for someone in any job. For Muir, though, it never really seemed like a job, he said.
“The thing I always enjoyed the most is the people, the friends I’ve made over the years,” Muir said.
On his last day, a lot of those people took the extra time to visit the North Salt Lake post office to say goodbye. There was cake, a bundle of balloons and a goodbye card so big Muir was happy he wouldn’t have to mail it.
“When I started this career, a stamp cost 13 cents. Now it's 49 cents,” he said with a laugh.
Muir always seemed to have a joke or funny comment for his customers.
“We have a special on stamps today,” he said to one of his final customers. “Two for the price of two.”
It took a moment for the customer to think about what he said before a smile crossed her face.
Then there was the time a woman put a large box on his counter scale to mail and asked him if she was overweight.
“I believe in being honest, but sometimes you better not answer the question,” Muir said.
Many of his customers, though, became personal friends.
“Well, I don’t know anybody who is quite like him,” said Byron Litster. “Everybody has their quirks and their good points and all, and Russ is one of the best ones around."
"We really think the world of him, and he's done so much for so many people for so long that he deserves to be honored,” said Mark Short.
For all the times Muir has served his customers, though, recently he needed them. Two years ago his wife died. Not even the biggest box could send away her cancer.
"The outpouring of love was overwhelming,” Muir said. “It changed me. I feel like I needed to serve others more."
That's when he started thinking about the rest of his life.
Muir's biggest hobby is playing the organ, and he’s planning on doing that as often as possible now.
In fact, after he walked out the door for the last time as a postal employee, he left for Rexburg, Idaho, where he played the organ during a funeral on Saturday.
"I've made a lot of friends and met a lot of people,” Muir said.
“You can’t work for people for 41 years and not be attached to them," he said. "Even though there are a lot of people and I don’t know all of their names, I remember a lot of their faces.”