Besides the usual bills, catalogues and donation pleas, U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Darnell Guillouette, whose route is part of south Sayville, has made some unusual deliveries.
“You have to deliver them right away or you’ll hear cheeping in your truck all day,” Guillouette said. “Also, they’re babies and they’re delicate.”
Then there’s the insects. “I’ve delivered bees, worms and ladybugs,” he added. “I’ve also heard of people delivering the ashes of loved ones. I might have too, but didn’t know it.” Then there was the guy who ordered weights. Lots of them.
“One gentleman ordered about 80 pounds of weights one time. I told him, ‘Dude, you’re killing me,’” he said.
A gazebo was in the mix, a kind of hard fit for a post office vehicle. When a fellow worker needed help one time with maneuvering one in his truck for a customer, Guillouette gave a helping hand.
Guillouette’s route has 433 stops, including Westgate, Eastgate and Norgate; he’s had it for three years. He leaves his Amityville home at 6:45 a.m. and his day begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Sayville Post Office. It takes about 40 minutes to sort the mail and then it’s out the door and into his truck.
“I start on Greene Avenue and my first stop is the Sayville Methodist Church,” he said. “My last stop is the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Great South Bay on Collins Avenue.” There are the six shops on Main Street including The Chocolatier. “All the shops on Candee Avenue are mine,” he said. “Also Strategic Planning Systems and all of Gillette Avenue including Studio 24.”
Guillouette, also known as “D,” is a polite, dutiful mailman with a quiet manner but a dry sense of humor. He has devoted fans. (Ask him about the carrot cakes, brownies, garden lettuce, even a Scrabble board and a hat he’s received as items of appreciation.) Shop owners shout out a cheery welcome when he enters.
“He takes an interest in the neighborhood,” said Kathy O’Gara, whose garden produced the lettuce. “And he kept an eye out for my elderly mother who lived on Collins Avenue. He has thoughtful characteristics and talks about his sons.” Guillouette, 32, is married and has two boys.
Along with the regulars, he’s known to befriend dogs and kids.
“The children, I think they think I’m the ice cream man when I get to their house because they come running out, especially Cole,” he said. That would be young Cole Cristofer, an avid artist. “D” is his hero. Also, Tina, an exuberant mix-breed.
(Tina flies out the door to greet him.)
His admiration status even extends to letters. “[We’re] so lucky we have this mailman,” wrote one little girl recently. “Thank you so much for the mail… Rite me back.”
“‘D’ is great. He’s got community spirit and is the best mailman we ever had,” said Lou Wiese, owner of Studio 24 Hair Salon.
He signed on with the postal service, first working in Huntington, in 2012.
In this business, you have to know certain tricks of the trade. Like what to wear in the winter under (or over) the uniform while getting in and out of the truck on frigid days. (While some customers are snug in their homes watching Netflix, he’s out trudging in snow, ice, and bracing cold. Also rain.)
His fellow workers shared their advice.
“I wear a hoodie with a heavy thermal-knit shirt and sweatpants under the postal uniform,” he said. “Usually, I’ll wear a knit winter hat and I drink a lot of coffee. “Summer is a bit easier. It’s this,” he said pointing to a short-sleeved postal shirt and also shorts. He’s lost weight; hauling mail does tend to burn off calories.
What’s going on in the world affects his load. For example, the pandemic prompted a lot of online ordering. So that meant a preponderance of packages for his customers.
“There was one day where I was riding down Collins Avenue and had to stop by every house to deliver them, about 40 houses,” he said.
Not complaining. Just an observation.
As for funny situations, on a different route, “There was a woman who didn’t want her husband to see the mail, so she would look out for me,” he recalled of her waving him down.
Guillouette was asked what made him become a mailman. “The pay,” he said honestly. “Also, it’s consistent and there are no surprises.”