By Jano Tantongco
It’s three days before Christmas, and Huntington letter carrier Chris Silvestri has been working every day since Thanksgiving, starting at 6:30 a.m. and going to 5 p.m., the earliest.
“For the holidays, we’re quite inundated by the packages,” said Silvestri, 31, who has lived in Huntington all his life and has worked at the Huntington post office for eight years.
His father, Michael, and grandfather, Italo, were both letter carriers in Huntington Station. Michael eventually became a postmaster in Bethpage.
On Tuesday, Silvestri made his way into Claudia Dowling Interiors at 325 Main St. (Silvestri’s route includes Main Street from New York Avenue to Woodbury Road -- about 100 stops). Claudia Dowling, president of the company, calls Silvestri “the best mailman ever.”
During this time of year, Silvestri makes four trips on foot to the Gerard Street post office to refill on deliveries to local businesses. He takes his lunch break back at the post office -- his appetite fueled by the scents coming from local eateries. Afterward, he loads up his truck and proceeds to his residential route.
One of his trainees once tracked that the route typically involves walking between 8 to 10 miles a day, including the pushcart work and going door to door from his truck.
New trainees can lose 15 to 20 pounds when they first start.
Silvestri views his job as a comprehensive service, not merely just delivering letters. Even if a business has no mail, he will go into the store to let them know.
“If they’re not worried about the mail… that’s the best thing,” said Silvestri. “Because, especially all my businesses, they have enough to worry about.”
Silvestri graduated from Huntington High School in 2002. About a year after that, Silvestri started working at a wood moulding company.
“I was a young kid, I thought it was the best thing ever. I was making money and my friends weren’t,” said Silvestri. “But when I became manager, and they told me how much I was making, I realized it wasn’t such a good job.”
On the side, he also worked as a barback for Christopher’s Pub and Eatery in Huntington for 10 years.
Heeding the suggestion of his father, he took the postal service exam in 2007 and passed it. His first day on the job was June 23 of that year -- noting that letter carriers make it a point to remember their start date to keep track of seniority.
“I got lucky and got into Huntington. I live not too far, and I’ve been here ever since,” said Silvestri.
“He’s awesome. We haven’t had any mistakes, any issues, any concerns, and if he does find anything, he brings it right to our attention,” said Terri Haupt, front desk supervisor for ProHEALTH Care in the radiology department. “He’s friendly, happy, pleasant. Love him.”
“It’s a good job,” Silvestri said. “It’s tough, but every job can be tough on certain days.”
The most difficult part of the job as dealing with the elements.
This December has been mild, and forecasters say there’s no chance for a white Christmas, which is just fine with Silvestri.
“Give me a ton of packages over snow and ice,” he said, though he doesn’t mind the cold so much. “Once it gets into the 100s… you can only put clothes on, you can only take so much off,” he said.
When it is icy, he is careful to take baby steps and wear grippers to increase his traction on the ground.
Working seven days a week in the holiday season can be daunting at times, but he said his family understands.
His wife, Rachel, is an orchestra teacher in Brentwood. They have a son, Vincent, who is 2, and a daughter, Aria, who is 8 months old.
“My wife knows when December comes around, it’s tough for me to be around. Just like I know when it’s concert season, it’s going to be tough for her.”
Silvestri can sense as much as anyone how much of a hustle and bustle the holiday season brings throughout Huntington. And, he said the post office tries to alleviate some stress by doing what it does best.
“All of us are out here working as hard as we can to bring the holidays to everybody.”