Mailman Il Soo Choi retires: A Celebration of America and New York City.
In a city as large as New York, people often come and go without notice. But one mail carrier on the Upper East Side became such a neighborhood fixture, he surprised residents with a touching tribute as prepared for retirement. Michael Scotto filed the following report.
When Nancy Ploeger opened up her mailbox last week, she wasn’t expecting to find a particular letter.
“I’ve learned and gained so much by encountering each of you and consider my life full and abundant,” she read.
Those words came from her mailman, Ilsoo Choi, who wrote the note and delivered it to some of his favorite residents along his route to tell them he is retiring.
“I just want to say thank you, goodbye. Only two words, you know,” Choi said.
Choi is one of those people who can make the city seem like a small town. For nearly two decades, he has been a mail carrier on the Upper East Side.
Spending the last 12 years delivering letters along East 88th Street, his story is uniquely American. He emigrated from Korea in 1984 and worked hard to make a life for his family.
His route, and the people along it, he says, helped him to learn English and about cultures that had seemed foreign to him.
“Over here we’re all different people but we’re living together, so through communicating, I really, really learned a lot of things. Every single day, I’m getting richer in my inner,” Choo said.
Residents say he also enriched their lives, and, of course, made sure they got their mail.
“He’s conscientious. Everybody’s mail is in the right box. That counts for a lot, right?” said one Upper East Side resident.
But nothing compares to that letter.
“It was just nice, which is more and more rare these days. It’s just nice,” said one Upper East Side resident.
On Thursday, Choi delivered mail along his route for the last time. One woman surprised him with a letter she wrote for him, in Korean.
East 88th Street still in awe of the man they call Mailman Choi, who concluded his letter this way:
“It is my prayer and hope that your lives will also be full of peace and joy in your everyday encounter with the world. It has been a privilege serving you as your mailman.”
It was a tearful moment for a mail carrier who became a neighborhood fixture and a friend.