Eagle Rock native Tim Wilson does not need an excuse to drink beer — regardless, he drank to his retirement from the Eagle Rock branch of the U.S. Postal Service this month at Walt’s Bar, celebrating his 35 years and five months of delivering mail.
Five years after Wilson graduated high school, he applied for a job as a mail carrier because he noticed their paychecks beat what he earned at Glendale Adventist Medical Center for grounds maintenance work. As a mail carrier, he said he has driven over one million miles, and won employee of the year about four times. Wilson said he most enjoyed the connections he made along the way.
“It’s like an extended version of your family. They don’t live with me, but they are part of my family because I see them every day,” Wilson said. “You know, ‘How’s your kids? How’s your wife? How’s Grandma? How’s everybody doing? How’s the dog?’ Then when the dog doesn’t bark, I ask where the dog is. Or if I don’t see Grandma for a couple of days, ‘Where’s Grandma?’”
Wilson said with his type of soul, the most difficult moments of his career included delivering to senior citizen apartments and learning that someone he knew had died.
“It just breaks your heart, because you were so attached to them,” Wilson said.
Fellow Eagle Rock mail carrier Lloyd Ige said Wilson always makes sure to call people and ask about how they are doing. Ige said that after his mother passed away, Wilson came to his home to support him.
“[Wilson’s] just very caring and sensitive and fun to be with, kind of crazy and fun,” Ige said. “He’s bigger than me, so if I fall he could pull me up out of the [mosh] pit.”
Ige said Wilson has tried around 1,000–2,000 varieties of beer, and the two also enjoy watching motorcycle and car races together. Without Wilson, Ige said he would probably drink less beer and go to fewer punk shows.
“He enjoys life, and now that he is retired he will enjoy it even more,” Ige said.
At his retirement party, Wilson said there were as many as 50–70 people, including people he delivered mail to, other friends in the neighborhood and classmates from his time at Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High School that he had not seen since his era of fun there.
“[In high school] we would bring dirt bikes up on the football field, do burnouts and tear all the grass up,” Wilson said. “I saw Van Halen play there on the quad. We would skateboard and jump the stairs, and stack all the benches early in the morning before the teachers came in. When the teachers started arriving, we would knock them all down.”
Wilson said a song that embodies his spirit is Black Flag’s “Rise Above” — a hardcore punk anthem about rising above adversity and doing your own thing despite people telling you what to do.
“Back then, we got beat up for being punk rockers. We shaved our heads, and we wore suspenders. Not so much to look tough, it was more of an identity thing,” Wilson said. “They called my name over the intercom to the dean’s office and then I had to explain why I was dressed like that. I got paddled. They used to paddle kids back then.”
While being a mailman was enjoyable for Wilson, it also came with dangers. Wilson said he endured 13 dog bites.
“The big ones want to go for the kill,” Wilson said. “I got bit by an 80-pound boxer that ripped my whole palm open — caught me on the hand when I tried to swing on him.”
Despite his wounds, Wilson said he still loves dogs. Losing his animals when his house burned down in 2011 was one of the saddest experiences of his life, he said.
“I lost two dogs and a cat. It killed me on the inside. I mean, I wanted to die because my cats died,” Wilson said. “And then I said, ‘I can’t die, because I’m a dad, and I have to be responsible.’”
Wilson said he thinks the house fire experience made him more motivated to help people. When serving as a representative for the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), he would always try to fight for employee rights, and he said he knows a few people who probably would have lost their jobs if he did not stand up for them.
“I’m not a rich person, so I can’t lend out thousands of dollars to people,” Wilson said. “But if there’s something I can do — I’m big, so if I can lift something, I’ll lift it.”’
Tyler Jerome White, former employee at Walt’s Bar and current taproom manager at the brewery Lawless, said Wilson is well-deserving of his status as a local legend.
“Don’t get me wrong, being a mailman is obviously a very important job, but [Wilson] does it with such care, and precision, and he’s just a very nice guy,” White said. “So we’ve been super lucky to have him over here in Eagle Rock, not only as a mail carrier but as a member of the community.”