Luis Sanchez was undeterred as the bomb cyclone began to descend on Denver Wednesday morning.
The U.S. postal worker started his route in the city’s Goldsmith neighborhood in the southeast where he usually does — a Winchell’s Donuts at Evans and Monaco — soon after the morning rain had frozen into snow. By the time he got to nearby homes for the walking portion of his day, unrelenting winds and precipitation blew hard in his face.
“There was only one time when we were out here delivering and they told us to come back,” he said, taking a break from the weather to stuff some boxes in an apartment building. As the lights flickered above him, he added: “I think this is worse.”
The cold front moved in quickly despite spring-like temperatures on Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, Xcel Energy had reported more than 200,000 customers without power, roads across the state were closed and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told Denverite that nobody should venture out unless they absolutely needed to.
So many residents across Denver hunkered down to avoid the storm. Not Sanchez, though, nor any of his 1,000 or so colleagues working in the wet and cold. That whole “neither snow nor rain thing” is more than a cliché.
“It’s real!” Sanchez said.
In his 19 total years working for the postal service, Sanchez has seen some tough storms. Rain, he said, is worse.
“I’ve been through some snowstorms, and I’m not going to lie to you, sometimes you feel like crying.”
But despite the weather and a decade delivering just to this neighborhood, he said he still loves his job. For anyone on a delivery route today, it’s all about perspective.
“You have to set up your mind in the morning: I’m ready to do this,” he said. “It’s tough, but it’s doable.”
That’s not so easy for everyone, though. Sanchez said a snowstorm a few weeks ago caused a couple of new recruits to quit. Denver’s Postal Service branch, at large, is having trouble filling all of its open positions. It’s one of many industries in the city dealing with worker shortages, like construction and food service. Marcela Juarez Rivera, a Postal Service spokesperson based in Denver, said there about 200 carrier positions in the metro area that are currently unfilled.
Sanchez had one other thing to say, a message to anyone who gets mail in the city: “please,” shovel your walks after it snows. Especially on a day like Wednesday, walkways that were unshoveled from snow last week are likely icy beneath the fresh powder.
“You have to be really careful where you step,” he said, “otherwise you’re going to be kissing the floor.”