The pin lady: Brodheadsville postal worker wears gifts proudly
Postal worker Patricia Alexander displays a plaque of pins given to her by a customer at the Brodheadsville post office. ASPEN SMITH/TIMES NEWS
Patricia Alexander has an affectionate word for every customer who walks through the Brodheadsville post office door: “Hey Smiley,” “Hey Stace,” “Hi Sweetie how are you? You feeling better?”
The USPS sales associate window clerk beams at them from behind the counter, where she stands wearing a navy blue knit vest that is covered from the middle up with pins. She guesses she has collected close to a thousand pins by now, about 200 of which have been given to her by customers.
“When I don’t have the vest on and the customers walk up, they say, ‘Miss Pat, where’s the vest? Where’s the vest?’ So I’m not allowed to not wear it,” Alexander joked.
Brodheadsville customers have nicknames for Alexander, too. They call her “Pin Lady,” “Mayor,” “General,” and sometimes salute her.
Alexander changes her pins each month, choosing them with care. This month, on her left side she wears American flag pins surrounding flags from all over the world. On her right side are animals. All around she wears angel pins, “protecting” the world and the animals, she said.
It all started seven years ago, when Alexander wore only a couple of angel pins. A customer had given her one of them.
“She was having a really, really bad day, and she was crying a lot, and I wouldn’t let her leave the post office until she got herself together,” Alexander said. “And she came back and she said, ‘you’re my angel, you lift me up,’ and that was when I started wearing it.”
That Christmas, Alexander was showered with pins. Her collection has kept growing ever since.
“They all, every one of them, have a meaning,” Alexander said, thinking of the people who gave them to her and what they said when they gave them.
In 2014, former Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe made a surprise visit to the Brodheadsville post office.
“He just stopped in and we both about fell over,” Postmaster Stacey Loki remembered.
“When he met her (Alexander) he was so impressed that he actually sent his agent out to the car and he came in with a handful of postal pins,” Loki said. “So if anybody dare ask if these are postal regulation, the postmaster general definitely approved of her wearing pins on her postal vest!”
Alexander, who lives in Effort, has worked at the Brodheadsville post office since 2012, and has been in the postal service for 31 years.
She pointed to a pin board on the wall beside the front desk that is decorated with photos of her children and grandchildren and her customers’ children.
“Those are my postal babies and these are my babies, so I keep them all together,” Alexander explained.
“I have the best customers in Brodheadsville,” she added.