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Today's word on journalism

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dueling masters on words:

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

--William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962), on Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

--Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961), on William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962)

Newton postmaster says hers is a 'dream job'

By Molly Farmer

March 29, 2006 | By greeting each Newton resident that enters the post office with a personal hello, Postmaster Carol Jensen demonstrates how being a postmaster is about care and concern, not just stamps and envelopes.

Jensen, who has been postmaster of Newton for a year and a half, said she considers her profession to be a dream job because the people of Newton are wonderful.

"Sometimes they just need a sounding board," Jensen said of the residents who share their thoughts with her.

There are no mail boxes in Newton, so all mail is sorted into one of the 346 post office boxes that are free to all residents, Jensen said. Some people come in every day, she said, and conversations extend from farming talk, to the latest on what surgery someone is going to have, though she said gossip is never discussed.

"What comes to the post office stays at the post office," Jensen said.

Within the walls of the remodeled gas station that is now the Newton post office, people tell Jensen little pieces of their lives and she said she's likely to share with them pieces of hers. A Providence resident and grandmother of three, Jensen has been a post office employee for about nine years and has made the 25 minute drive to Newton for the past year and a half. She said part of the job she really enjoys is the drive as she gets to see the birds migrate.

Jensen grew up in Providence and went to Cache County schools. She attended Utah State University "for half a minute," and has worked in post offices in Logan, Hyrum, and currently Newton.

A good postal worker recognizes the responsibility they have to handle each piece of mail like it's important, Jensen said, as people are entrusting their prized possessions to their care. Jensen said that while most things mailed aren't valuable monetarily, things like genealogy charts and family histories are very important to senders and receivers. Many different kinds of live birds are sent through the mail in the springtime, Jensen said, which makes that time of year especially exciting.

"The post office was rated the most trusted government agency," she said, and every postal worker she knows takes their job very seriously. She said when she was a postal carrier it wasn't uncommon to knock on someone's door if they hadn't picked up their mail in a few days just to make sure everything was OK. Jensen said the thing that makes the job most satisfying is "the role that you play in their life."

One trend Jensen said she has noticed is how more men pick up the mail as women are employed outside the community. She said it's more likely for them to stop and chat with each other in the winter when farming slows down than in the summer.

"It's been a really good thing," Jensen said of her experience.

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