Most consider standing in line at the postal office a tedious, boring chore, but Broomall Post Office-goers know otherwise. The mailroom clerk's boisterous singing booms through the tiny, package stuffed office while every person in line has a smile stretching ear to ear.
John Useller has been working as a clerk at the Broomall Post Office, 2628 West Chester Pike, since 1973. But starting Jan. 31, customers won't be enjoying Useller's vocal talents anymore -- at least not at the post office.
"I will miss the customers, they're what made my job so easy," Useller said of his retirement. "I see a lot of people go from kids to young adults and they’ve seen me grow old too."
Useller grew up in the area and initially took a job at the post office in the mid-70s.
"The money was fine for a bachelor," he said. "I used to work at 5:30 in the morning and had weekends off."
He eventually got married and moved to Delaware, but Useller soon found that the job had too great of social perks for him to work elsewhere.
Useller has created several bonds with customers over the years and claims to know 80 to 90 percent of the people who come in.
Paul Quintavalla, a customer and acquaintance of Useller for the past 25 years, is one of those customers. He said he enjoys waiting in line just for Useller's fun-natured jokes and dedication to his work when he drops off his mail.
"Waiting in line for John is unticketed entertainment," Quintavalla said. "He will break into song, wise crack with the guys, offer advice to neophytes and pleasantries to the elderly."
Quintavalla said an elderly woman once said she liked dropping off her mail during the holidays because longer lines meant more time to enjoy Useller's jokes and -- of course -- his songs.
Useller said he's been well-known for his musical talents for years. Back in 1981 a writer who came to the post office for the first time penned a story about Useller when she was left confused as to why no other customers found the singing clerk odd.
Useller said he bursts out into song still -- either when someone says something he can relate to a song or when he recalls a song he'd heard recently on his car radio.
"The one running joke is that I basically sing one line of a song," he said. "If you’re in for 10 minutes, you might hear it a few times."
Though it's likely customers will no longer get the kind of show they did with Useller, he says to expect quality service from his fellow employees.
"My coworkers have been pretty much of the same mold," he said. "They’re always consumer-oriented and trying to make sure the customer gets the best service."
As for Useller, he'll be enjoying a few weeks in Florida. But fear not, his trip is not permanent. He plans on looking for a new job -- with similar social benefits to his long-running gig as a clerk -- in the area.
"I’ve been too active for too long that I don’t think I can sit at home," he said. "I don’t have any hobbies...I’m not a stamp collector or a coin collector so I’ll have to do something to keep busy."
Ultimately, Useller said he'd like to work as a waiter on a cruise ship. But he's more likely to get a job working at a gym or driving a bus around town.
Useller also said he's sure to keep further tabs on his customers as he plans on making a Facebook account.
But until the end of the month, Useller said he looks forward to enjoying his time with customers.