McALISTER – As communities with post offices go, they don’t get much smaller than McAlister, and according to their newest Post Master, Rachelle Moon, that’s fine by her.
Moon will be officially sworn in on Tuesday, but she has been active with the Post Office since the mid-1990s starting out as the substitute for the then McAlister Postmaster Betty Moon, her mother-in-law. Her responsibilities were basically to step in for her husband’s mother when she couldn’t be in the small, one-person office and on Saturday mornings.
She found then that she liked the position and enjoyed the responsibilities of the job so when Betty retired in 1997, she continued in her position under the new postmaster Kathy Jennings who retired in September of 2003. It was then that Moon was tapped to take command of the small outpost, but before she could step into the Postmaster’s position she had to prove herself capable of the job. That, she says, is what she has been doing since September. “Just proving that I can do the job.” said the House High School graduate.
Moon admits that probably not many people would be comfortable working in such a small isolated spot on the Caprock that only boasts nine buildings within sight, a good portion of which are uninhabited. “You’ve got to like rural areas,” said Moon about her responsibilities, “and I do. So I match up pretty well.”
The new Postmaster said she and her family moved to the McAlister area when her grandfather died so the family could help her grandmother cope with her land. Moon said she soon found that she fitted in pretty well with the community. “And I think I understand it,” said Moon of her knowledge of the McAlister area. “I think I understand the people too, and I am one of them. I belong.”
That belonging is something of an essential part of her job she says because, “I know each one of my customers personally. After all they’re not just another customer out here, they are literally my neighbors, my friends.” She said she believes that is why her office has gained recognition for such a high sales rate of such things as stamps, mailers and other postal goods since many of the people in her area could go to Clovis or Tucumcari to purchase the items.
“The people really support this office,” said Moon.
She said it helps that she knows the likes and dislikes of her customers so well. “For instance,” she said about her roughly 100 regular customers. “They always buy flag stamps. They really like those flags. They won’t have flowers or the ‘Love’ stamps. It’s got to flags. I always tease Bill (Nolan, the offices letter carrier) if he has enough flower stamps when he leaves.”
Moon said she feels that is another reason for the positive response and high sales rate at her post office that her carrier is sort of a portable Post Office in his own right.
“He does all the business on the route,” said Moon. “You don’t have to come in to do your post office business.”
Nolan said he is certain that Moon will do a very good job now that she is becoming the official Postmaster since she has done so well since September.
“I think she’ll do excellently,” said Nolan. “She meets the public well, and makes sure I do my job right. Yep, she stays on my case.” The new Postmaster admits that her job can be lonely, and even a bit boring or at least it could until the McAlister office became computerized. “Now, it’s so much better,” said Moon.
However, she points out that since she does all the jobs at the office except carry the mail, it can keep her pretty busy thus erasing most of the boredom. She said she handles all the sorting, the sales, stocking the different goods and materials, handles the budgeting, putting up and taking down the flags.
“I even have to mop the floor, shovel the snow and put down the ice melt, and whatever else has to be done,” said Moon.
Moon said while the Post Office is a small one, she still has basically the same responsibilities as Postmasters in larger communities. She said she had to be a person who was trustworthy and had to have a good reputation.
Moon pointed out that since she was the only person in the office she knew a great many of the secrets of the community. But she said she is very careful not to pass those secrets on to anyone no matter how much another person might want to know. “People don’t want other people knowing their business,” said Moon. “I don’t want people knowing my business so I’m not going to tell other people’s business.” Nolan said all aspects of the job seem to match up well with the new Postmaster. “She’s really doing a great job,” said Nolan.