This 72-Year Old Man Works The Longest Mail Route In U.S.

Jim Ed Bull delivers mail during a treacherous stretch -- and has only missed work 5 times.

In a tough economy, millions of older people are working well past retirement age. Indeed, as Bloomberg News reports, 7.2 million Americans, aged 65 and older, were employed last year, a 67 percent jump from 10 years earlier. But few have the dramatic story to tell that 72-year old Jim Ed Bull does.

The septuagenarian works the longest mail route in the United States. Driving a mail truck, he hauls parcels along a stretch of 187.6 miles in Southwest Oklahoma. Earning a salary of $62,000 a year, Bull has been working the job for 13 years, and he's only called in sick to work five times during that time, according to an in-depth profile by Bloomberg News.

Not bad for working a region that can get as hot as 120 degrees Fahrenheit and as cold as zero degrees. And according to Bloomberg, the route is "some of the loneliest territory in the country" populated by bobcats, coyotes and skunks -- but not many people.

The route also is famously treacherous; Greer and Jackson counties were part of the area that suffered during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Eighty years later, the two counties are still suffering from "extreme drought," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. But Bull goes about his day with his humor in tact. In speaking to Bloomberg, he recounted a recent discussion he had on the route about his age. "A guy guessed I was 55. I corrected him: 39."

It's a second career for Bull, too. He worked for 36 years as a junior high and high school principal at three different school districts in Oklahoma. During his education career, he only called in sick to work five times, he told Bloomberg, the same number of times he's done so as a mail carrier.

Far beyond the experience of one 72-year old man working the longest mail route in the country, the uptick of older Americans staying in the workforce longer has caused a host of new phenomena in the workplace. As the Associated Press has reported, more older workers means more seasoned veterans now have younger managers -- nearly half of those born between 1946 and 1964 now work for a younger boss.

You can read the rest of the amazing profile on Bloomberg News.

Do you know older Americans who have interesting work stories? Share in the comments section below.
Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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anotherusernam3

It's "intact" not "in tact" lol

August 28 2013 at 10:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RockNHula

God bless him. I might send him a package, to be delivered to himself.

August 27 2013 at 11:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nancy Evans

Cody Winn is still working as a bus driver in Tucson AZ. He's 75, He's also retired from the USMC, He was a master gunnery sgt, Fought in Viet Nam. He earned the Silver star with oak leaf cluster. He then Worked for the California dept of Corrections where he was a chief deputy warden. He then retired from CDC to become a School Bus driver, in the 61 years that Cody has worked...He missed 3 days if work

August 27 2013 at 10:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mbestfrnd

I am a Rural Carrier and my mail route is only 106 miles but I deliver both mail and packages. Air conditioning? If I was to run that, my car would over heat. Besides, I love the hot weather. I'm only 68 but my kids are a junior and senior in high school so I'll be working the route at least six more years. Retire? No way. I could never get by with what retirement I would get. What would I do with myself anyway? Working helps keep me young and lets me live more than a bare existance lifestyle.

August 27 2013 at 10:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
gjcken

that is not the hot box mail truck we drive around in ..... and that bucket of parcels appears to be his whole route....
We on Long Island, have mail hanging out the windows that we must close up at every stop we come to ...
110 and ten degrees is not uncommon for the inside of our trucks... must be nice to ride in his truck with air conditioning.... Happy trails and good luck .....

August 27 2013 at 8:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gjcken's comment
gramargo

How do you know how much mail Mr. Bull delivers on his 187 mile route? Whatever he brings is very welcome to those people living out in rural areas. And the vehicle looks as if it might be his own car. I doubt your truck could handle those long trips every day on the roads (not streets, you know) in the country.

August 27 2013 at 10:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bozhd

I feel bad for those of you that want to degrade someone for having good work ethics. I am 63, am blessed to have a job that pays enough to keep a roof over our head and take care of the medical costs of a wife terminal with cancer and the open heart surgery I just went thru. I never read in the Scriptures about retiring but only to give 100% dedication and work for the glory of God. I will continue to work, and volunteer at nursing home, as long as the Lord allows me to. I too believe in an honest days work for an honest day's pay. God bless.

August 27 2013 at 8:42 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Harvey

Well, Jimmy, all I can say is that I can hold my head up and know that I never cheated my boss or the government for that matter.

August 27 2013 at 8:36 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ericwrites

I am seventy three, living on a small SS and military pension; I HAVE to go out as often as I can and perform hard physical labor, construction work. Today I ripped up rotted floor boards to expose serious water and carpenter ant infestation. Before I left the project I did a stock run at a big box bullding supply store, carrying a massive french door on top of my twenty year old jeep wagon, then manhandeling it up a flight of porch stairs, (I'll install it tomorrow). Then I complete the flooring phase. I write about this because I am a novelist, (with two books published) There are many more books ready for publication, but there is never enough money for us old gents (some ladies also) and that's what keeps us at our ages remaining in the work-force and depriving younger people the opportunity of being emplyed. I for one dearly welcome the chance to sit and write full time for your pleasure and mine. Poverty stinks. ;-)

August 27 2013 at 7:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jesus Mohammed

Some of you people are pitiful. You sound like a bunch of lazy democrats.

August 27 2013 at 7:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jakki051

What a Shame! I'm a mail carrier and when I can retire, I'm going HOME so some young person can have a job!

August 27 2013 at 6:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jakki051's comment
jakki051

I want to add Oh, I will still be working but as a volunteer somewhere FREE! Cases like this hog the jobs and young folks can't find employment!

August 27 2013 at 6:47 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jakki051's comment
gramargo

Do you really know any young person who would tackle this job? I'm not sure I do, even though my grandkids are smart and ambitious......I can't see them doing the hard work Jim Bull does with a smile on his face. He's definitely not ready to retire! And why should he when both he and his employer are happy with the way he works?

August 27 2013 at 10:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

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