Mission Mail carrier Elmer Padilla. Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.

Elmer Padilla has been delivering the mail to stoops and mailboxes across the Mission for the last 22 years. In a month, he will retire. “Our job is getting harder and harder,” he says.  

Padilla lives in Vallejo and commutes to the Mission to deliver the mail. This job “gives me food on the table and a roof over my head,” Padilla says. He got the job as a mailman after being inspired by his late brother, who also worked for the U.S. Postal Service. The income from delivering mail goes to his three children and wife in Vallejo, as well as to his two children in the Philippines, where he was born.

Mission Local walked alongside Padilla as he dropped political literature, Amazon boxes and bills for residents. Election season means “working 11 or 12 hours every day. That’s long hours.” But he enjoys the neighborhood. 

He was offered the chance to change areas, but decided to stay. “I like the people around here, they never touch me or nothing. It’s similar to the Filipino attitude because we were under Spanish rule, so we adopt a lot of things from them and have some things in common. Some of the words Latinos use, we also use those words.”  

In the two decades he has been working in the Mission, he has noticed changes. “I haven’t seen gangs for a long time. Like on 24th and Shotwell, it’s gone. Now, rent is high, people pay more.”  The neighborhood, he said, is safer nowadays, even when it gets dark. When asked about the importance of the USPS to democracy, he says “that without the ballots  there is no more democracy for us.”  

“I’m not a citizen, so I can’t vote,” he said, adding that he has a green card.  “I wish I could vote,” he says. “One of these days.”

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Clara-Sophia Daly is a multimedia storyteller and reporter who has worked both in print and audio. A graduate of Skidmore College where she studied International Affairs and Media/Film studies, she enjoys working at the intersection of art and politics, and focusing on the stories of individuals to reveal larger themes.

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  1. Elmer is our postman and is the nicest and most helpful person you can meet. He goes out of his way to take care of us and will be sorely missed. Congratulations on a well deserved retirement!

  2. I learned last year that it costs 800 dollars to become a citizen, this, after you have done all the learning required, and passed the exam.

    It shouldn’t be expensive to become a citizen…it wasn’t always.

    Is there a movement to lower this cost? I’d like to know about it. sydney@eceteacher.org


  3. Hi Mark, aside from being the nicest and most helpful, he is also the best father and and grandfather. Thank you for the appreciation and admiration you’ve said for my dad. I am thankful that my dad made a difference to you and others. Yay! it’s time for him to enjoy his well deserved retirement.

  4. My wife and I receive our ballots in the mail … but walk them back to City Hall and hand them over the poll workers at the official kiosks outside. You then get a “I Voted” sticker.

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