By Robert Nathan
Killeen Daily Herald
NOLANVILLE – Her earthy love of personalizing customer service has lifted a Temple woman to the position of postmaster in Nolanville.
Even after 33 years of postal service work, Patsy Cofer never complained about her job behind the counters of both large and small post offices in Central Texas.
At 56, Cofer, has been around the business long enough to know most of her customers. She enjoys work in the local post office because it's small enough for her to befriend most of the community's residents.
"I''ve worked over the years as a window clerk in Killeen, Copperas Cove and Gatesville. Then I went to the small offices to work and I fell in love with it because you could actually do the service," she said. "You could give the people the service and it became personal."
So personal, Cofer says, that she knows what many customers want when they walk through the door.
In Flat, a local teen actually paid her a visit to let her know he had obtained his driver's license. Promoting good manners to her youngest customers has paid off. Cofer said many of them come back just to talk.
"I like children and I like to interact with the kids, so I used my time when they would come to the post office as a learning experience for them," she said.
Adults also are inspired by Cofer.
Nolanville resident Barbara Vincent, 34, visits the post office daily at 3 p.m., children in tow, to mail items she sells on the Internet.
"We talk about family, we talk about what we made for dinner – it's very personal," Vincent said.
Many of the customers Cofer enjoys are military families with a spouse deployed and away from home for the first time. Last week, one of her longtime customers came in with a child and baby – her hands so full she had to leave her package in the car.
"We'll watch your baby while you run outside and get your package," Cofer said. "They want to get to know you first before they put everything in your trust."
Cofer said the local office is similar to other postal facilities in small communities because they were all built with a similar style and about the same time.
But times have changed. Like other Central Texas towns, the population of Nolanville has grown dramatically. But little has changed physically at the little post office on Main Street since its construction in 1966. Originally, it was equipped to handle only post office boxes, Cofer said. Now providing standard postal services, the community may have outgrown the facility.
Nolanville was on a list to get a new post office before Hurricane Katrina hit the Texas Gulf Coast, but the damage there has changed the U.S. Postal Service's priorities. Most available construction funds have been expended to rebuild post offices in Louisiana and Mississippi.
But size isn't everything to Cofer. That won't stop her from enjoying the best part of her job – personal relationships with her customers.
"You have to like people and you have to be service oriented to be a good postmaster," she said. "You have to really want to help people, and being a post master in a small office, you get that opportunity."
Contact Robert Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org