Diotte, Vince

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                                   VINCE DIOTTE
                               By Beatrice Jardine

Vince Diotte has 396 sick days coming to him, but he will not be able to collect them. Diotte, 60, is retiring from his job with the Newcastle post office. “I’ll just lose those days. It would equal about two years’ salary,” Diotte said.

He is postal officer 4 — he can do anything from sorting and handling mailbags to selling postal orders and stamps.

He started his job on Sept. 1, 1956 and will be retiring on Sept. 1.

Rain, snow, hail, or the blistering sun never kept Diotte home from the post office — in fact he always walked to work from his home up over the hill in Newcastle.

He fell one morning walking to work and knocked himself out. It was very slippery and his feet went from underneath him. He went to work with an awful pain in his head, he said.

He walked in all kinds of weather and has even helped stranded truckers by letting them stay at his home if a snow storm was too bad.

“I will miss getting up in the morning and meeting Gord Christie at 4:30 on the hill and the girls at the Irving car wash where I bought a paper every morning,” he said.

He was once laid up for two months with a bad back — he never missed any other day in 34 years.

He was nervous when he first started. He had to take an examination every year for four years in order to get a raise. He made 95-97 except for one summer when he failed the exam. The examiner came back later and gave him the test and he got his raise. He wasn’t prepared for the test before, he said with a laugh.

Diotte started off opening mail bags, loading and unloading the trucks. He would start at 6 a.m. sorting the registered mail, CODs and courier mail and continue until 2 p.m. He also worked other shifts over the years. One of the mailbags weighs about 60 pounds and some days he handles quite a few, he said.

His wife, Florence, convinced him to take an early retirement so they can travel while they are both in good health, he added. The first thing Diotte is going to do is sleep in for a week. Then they plan to travel to British Columbia. He never had much of a social life before because it was early to bed, early to rise.

While he is looking forward to a happy retirement, Diotte is going to miss getting up before dawn, he added.

He expects to continue his hobbies of walking and reading. “I read a lot of papers. The Leader is the best of them all and I buy a lot of them. The editorials are good, too,” Diotte said.

“The post office has been good to me. It’s an interesting job and you meet a lot of people,” Diotte said. I know almost everyone in town.”

He is the last of an original group of seven employees. The others retired a couple of years before him.

Diotte has no regrets, but he worries about what the future holds for the employees still working at the post office, he said.

Source: Miramichi Weekend – August 17, 1990

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