Leilani Escalante pauses to pose for a photo on Bartlett Street in the Mission during her daily rounds. Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.

Two months ago Leilani Escalante, 21, who lives in Daly City, lost her job in an office. Yes, it was the pandemic. 

But she hardly missed a beat, and decided to work as a mail carrier. The outdoor nature of the job and being useful to the public, she said, suited her. 

So Escalante took the driving test and completed the two-week academy training necessary to join the postal service. 

Now she can be spotted, with her distinctive orange hair, walking around the streets of the Mission, delivering mail.

“I love feeling the endorphins of being outside and not being inside a building, and also … having time to just observe and think to myself is nice.” 

But even before she joined the postal service, Escalante always thought what they were doing was “awesome.” She said her personal mail carrier is very friendly, and she appreciated what they did, especially during the difficult parts of the pandemic and around the election, when they had to be “very careful with [election mail].” 

“There’s not a lot of women mail carriers, I’m, like, one of the few, ” says Escalante, estimating that less than a third of the carriers at the 1600 Bryant St. station are women. Her fellow women mail carriers, she said, are “amazing, and they do hard work.”

As a queer woman, Escalante says she is grateful that her station is super inclusive. When she first started and was chatting with an older male coworker, he asked if “I had a girlfriend or boyfriend, and I thought it was super cute that he asked me that way, instead of assuming.” 

Delivering mail is hard, both physically and mentally. “It can be straining, make your legs and back sore, and … it can be easy to be overwhelmed with the amount you have to get done and with the long hours.” But, “It’s fun!” 

“A lot of the people at the senior citizens home, I know now,” says Escalante.

She starts off her mornings with a muffin with sugar sprinkled on top ” for a dollar” at Pan Lido Salvadoreño Bakery on 22nd Street. 

They are “very kind, and the lady there refers to me as ‘chica.’”

Leilani Escalante in the Mission. Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.
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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. Congratulations Leilani 👏🎉❤️! I am so proud of you in so many ways. I love that you are so happy and working in such a wonderful inclusive environment and doing a great job. Wishing you continued happiness as you provide an important service to the community!

  2. Thank you Ms. Leilani Escalante! This can’t be easy. Stay safe and keep up the awesome attitude! We appreciate YOU!! And all mail carriers! 💕

  3. thanks for doing these articles on people in the neighborhood, I very much enjoy learning my neighbor’s stories