"The Postman": A real postwoman's perspective
Some may think Kevin Costner pushed the envelope a little too far with his "Postman", but one real-life courier gives it her stamp of approval
I think the critics were too hard on The Postman. Since Waterworld, I think they’ve had it in for Kevin Costner. They should’ve lightened up. This is not a serious movie like Dances With Wolves. That was a great movie and a better vehicle for Kevin as an actor. And at nearly three hours, The Postman did seem a little long, but I didn’t lose interest. You just can’t take it too seriously.
In fact, it would make a good training film for post-office management. Kevin plays a nice guy at the helm of the post office, which is something we don’t have now. Last August I was removed from my job as a letter carrier in White Plains, N.Y., on a route I’d worked for 15 years [Cherry was reinstated and is now working as a clerk in nearby Elmsford]. The official reason for my dismissal was that I took “baby steps,” but I—and the people on my route—believe the real problem was that management thought I spent too much time serving my patrons. I got yelled at once for showing someone how to send a certified letter!
In The Postman, Kevin breaks all the rules. He stops to talk to his customers, he asks them to dance, he eats meals with them. He even impregnates one. That has been done—some letter carriers do deliver more than the job requires—but in general postal workers are discouraged from reaching out to their community.
I think it’s funny the way Kevin spoofs the post office. His character is kind of campy, and he throws in lines about the post office that you know are spoofy because of that little smile of his. But I do like the idea that during this troubled time in the future, it’s the post office that gives people a sense of hope.
Watching Kevin deliver mail on his horse—some of those letters were 15 years old, but did he get any flak?—I realized what I was missing as a letter carrier. If I’d had a horse, management would’ve had a much tougher time measuring my steps. If only I’d had a horse…my mail route for a horse! B
—Martha Cherry, as told to Lois Alter Mark