Terry Hutchison smiled Friday as one of his final customers wished him well in retirement. “I should’ve called in sick,” he said, chuckling. “But they’d have come and got me, probably.”
Hutchison, 61, spent Friday providing his last day of service in the lobby of Gainesville Post Office following 42 years of work as a clerk and former carrier. He said his afternoon plans were to finish the day and then close shop with his family watching him punch his timecard one last time.
After more than four decades with the postal service, he hopes to cherish retirement as much as he cherished work. “I’m just going to enjoy getting up every day with a smile on my face,” he said. “I’m not going to just go home and sit. And I’ve got two grandchildren. I’ll do volunteer work, or some fishing. I’ll do all the stuff I’d been putting off and need to catch up with.”
On Friday, the staff stocked the lobby with balloons and refreshments and mounted a series of portraits showing Hutchison with fellow employees — shots taken in years as distant as 1975 and 1984. Customer after customer, many of them long-familiar with Hutchison, stepped up to the counter and said goodbye as he sold them stamps or handled their parcels.
“I’ve enjoyed the people,” Hutchison said Friday. “And I’ve never regretted coming to work every day. Enjoyed it. At first, you deal with people, and then after a while, you get to know them. It’s, like, a one or two-minute transaction. And over the years, you kind of develop a relationship.”
Hutchison began his career with Gainesville Post Office in 1971. Prior to that, he worked two years in the Gainesville Daily Register circulation department followed by two years with JCPenney.