Special delivery: mail carrier tells his story

By Jennifer Lassiter
star staff
jlassiter@starhq.com

  Hot, humid summer days are coming to a swift end. With cool autumn breezes knocking on the door, Michael Honeycutt awaits a more suitable season. "I like fall best; it's a little cooler and gives me a break from summer," he said.
  Honeycutt's professional attire is well worn; his years of work as a mail carrier show slightly in the cotton fabric of his blue U.S. Postal Service uniform, especially in his knee-high, navy blue striped socks. His salt and pepper hair is the only indication of his age. Due to the extensive amount of walking he does delivering mail to residents and businesses, he stays in good health.
   After spending the last 31 years as a post office employee, Honeycutt was recently awarded a 'One Million Mile Plaque' to recognize his safety consciousness. "Safety ought to be habit," he said. Honeycutt recalls the only time he came close to an accident. "I wasn't even in the delivery truck; I was parked while on my walking route, when someone or something ran into the back of the truck," he said.
  There had been some city construction going on nearby, and, fortunately for Honeycutt, a neighbor saw the whole thing. "I didn't even realize it until I got back to the office," said Honeycutt. Without a note or any evidence of who left the noticeable dent in the bumper, Honeycutt relied on the neighbors and friends he watched "grow-up" while delivering mail to uncover the truth.
  About three decades ago, Honeycutt began working for Ernest Cardwell at the old post office as a part time clerk upon returning from serving in the Air Force. While in the Air Force, Honeycutt was based out of Charleston, S.C. where he trained as a jet engine mechanic.
  Today, he makes 618 stops, some by truck and some by foot. His route has changed four times since he started, but he said he enjoys it. His day begins with a couple of hours of sorting mail in the office, and then he sets out for six hours of daily runs.
  Starting on "C" street behind the old post office, Honeycutt turns onto Broad Street where he delivers to local businesses. He then travels up Lynn Valley, within the city limits, turns again and heads back down Main Street behind Taco Johns. He completes his day at the Elks Club.
  Years of practice have led to an incredible amount of accuracy; his mail is usually delivered at the same time daily. "It varies every day, but at the most only thirty minutes," he said, "A lot of people don't realize how many people we actually serve."
  Though their have been many physical changes in the community since he started work, some things never change -- the people. Honeycutt considers himself a born people person, and that is his favorite part of the job.
  He even considers himself a dog lover, even though he carries a can of mace in his pocket to ward off any adversaries. "I used to breed dogs once," he said. Now, his two-year-old grand-daughter, Mallory McNally, has her own Cockerspaniel. He teaches her to pet it while it eats, so it won't bite her later on in life.
  While in route, Honeycutt vividly remembers being bit three times, one time by a Doberman. "I try not to mace 'em unless I have to," he said.
  This was a time that called for a quick response. After spraying the dog once with mace, the dog continued to attack him. Honeycutt bled from the chest and received a minor puncture wound from the disgruntled Doberman. When asked what he did afterward, Honeycutt responded, "I delivered the rest of my route."
  Eligible for retirement in October, Honeycutt will likely continue to deliver mail. At the ripe age of 55, he will continue to serve the city of Elizabethton. "I've gotta' be somewhere," he said.