Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays Santos Caraballos from the swift completion of his appointed rounds. But United States Postal Service bureaucrats are another thing entirely.
Members of a Brooklyn Heights co-op were apoplectic last week at the news that Caraballos, their beloved mailman for 21 years, will no longer be serving the high-rise building as of Aug. 15 as part the Postal Service’s effort to trim an $8-billion deficit.
Toba Potosky, the board president of the co-op at 101 Clark St., said that Caraballos was more than a man in blue shorts to those he serves.
“This is what people mean when they talk about community,” he said. “Santos has been with us for so long, through parents being sick and kids growing up. Every family in this building knows him, and he knows all of them.”
The enraged residents face a bureaucratic knot of Gordian proportions — neither the post office nor the letter carriers’ union even has a way for customers to provide feedback about proposals like route adjustments. The decision to re-direct Caraballos was part of a nationwide agreement between the union and the postmaster general.
But Potosky and the other residents haven’t been deterred, calling every elected official in their area.
Darlene Reed, a spokeswoman for the post office, said that no recourse was provided for community members because the “matters were related to cost-cutting and efficiency.”
She added that a national initiative couldn’t be delayed for a single building.
“Sometimes postal talk and regular-people talk is different,” Reed said. “He will be on the same route he’s always had, but that building will be covered by a different carrier.”
Caraballos’s value to the Cadman Towers community was evident as he stuffed mailboxes on an afternoon earlier this week. Older residents and those working from home dropped into the lobby to say hello. Caraballos knew every face, and handed over bundles of mail, asking about kids or parents, recent and upcoming vacations.
Caraballos himself isn’t wild about the transfer.
“I’ve known these people for so long now, after 21 years, you just don’t want to say good-bye,” he said.
But in the end, he told a well-wisher, it’s not his decision to make.
“Everyone’s got a boss. We all do what our boss says.”