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The Leon Chronicles
Reader stories about a town's favorite UPS man
July 3, 2008

T
he odometer on Leon Jones’ UPS truck clicks over a thousand miles a week. What it may not record — but what his customers do notice — are the many ‘extra miles’ Leon’s gone to deliver packages over the past decade in Oriental.

The Leon Era is about to end, as Leon is planning to retire next week. It will be the end of an institution and a level of customer care that is rarely seen. When we first reported of his impending retirement, we mentioned coming out of a Brantley’s lunch one day to find a package had been delivered to the front seat of our car in the parking lot. Leon had spotted our car there and dropped it off.

That wasn’t an isolated incident, as you’ll see when you read the “Leon Stories” TownDock readers sent in. They aren’t so much from customers as they are from fans of the man in the Big Brown Truck. Unlike the Big Yellow Taxi, they do know what they’ve got.. before he’s gone…..

From Beth Patton Millman:

Leon will be missed around here! He knew where to put my packages. He knew that if I needed to sign for the package, he needed to knock on the door after he rings the doorbell. My favorite Leon story is when I didn’t hear the bell and knock and he had to leave a notice that I had a package that I needed to sign for. So when I discovered the notice I rode around town until I found him. I told him I was sorry that I hadn’t heard him. He said, “Well I didn’t hear your little dog barking, so I thought you were gone.” I had to tell him that I had had to put my little dog to sleep the week before. He was sincerely sorry to hear that. The fact that he knew to listen for my dog and to actually care about him is so “Leon”, isn’t it? Enjoy your retirement, Leon!

From Barbara and Winston Sparks:

We were new to Oriental, from Denver Colorado, commissioning our boat to sail off shore. The day we were heading back to Denver, we had heard that our daughter sent a package, via UPS, to the only “address” we had, our post office box. Of course, the post office would not accept it. So Leon found out that we were having lunch at Scoots, and delivered the package to our table.
We already miss him a lot.

From Charlie Garrett of Village Frame Shop
’502 Hodges Street, or Scoot’s Pizza, or Hwy. 55, or wherever…’

I will surely miss Leon. Wherever he sees my truck parked becomes the delivery point! I receive packages almost every day for my picture framing business. The packages are all addressed to my home, but Leon has stopped on Highway 55 when he sees my truck coming and flashed his lights for me to stop and take a package. He has tracked me down in Scoot’s Pizza. He has found me at the hardware store. He stops at my shop when he sees my truck there, even though it is not an “official” address. He always waves even when we pass each other in New Bern. If a package looks like it may have been damaged, he tracks me down before leaving, and has me open it to make sure the frames are OK.

In an age when “service” is hard to find, Leon is the Master. Always ready with a smile, he brightens my day on a regular basis. His shoes will be nearly impossible to fill, and he will be sorely missed. I will be sure to cheer him when he passes my shop in the Croakerfest Parade, and yes, there will be a tear in my eye as well. Godspeed and good luck in your retirement, Leon! You have truly earned it!

From Ellie Richard:

My residency here has only been 6 months, but those months include the holidays and Leon was in my driveway more than once, with or without a house number or a mailbox. A constant, familiar face, always pleasant and professional. He was part of the my Oriental Orientation.

One delivery day I was able to get to the bottom of the steps with a cold bottle of water for him and I asked him if he had had lunch at Aggie’s, as I had seen several UPS trucks in the parking lot. He replied with that big smile, “No, I have a packed lunch. Don’t take much time away from my route.” He noticed we were having a dock built behind our house and I invited him to bring his lunch and a fishing pole one day. But, I knew he would not stop long enough; he was a man on a mission.

UPS is losing a ‘poster boy’; he is a true professional.

From Jacksie Pitts:

I am so happy our town is going to honor Leon for his service to us. He is such a pleasant and competent man. I was supposed to pick up a package expected to arrive at my friend’s home while she was away on vacation. I ran into Leon earlier that day and he gave me the package when I told him my task. He recognized the name, and saved me a trip. No big deal about “against regulations.”

From Tom Finta:

The best story I have is that one day I was working at St Thomas Church and Leon came to the door. I answered the door and saw Leon and said to him, “Ah, you have something for the church?”

He then said, “I have one for the church and one for you.”
Apparently he saw my car in the church parking lot and brought my package along! This could only happen in Oriental.

From Sharon and Carl:

Leon,

Thanks so much for traveling those “extra” miles for us here in Oriental. Our “Chunky” dog will miss the treats and we all will miss your friendly smile and wave.

Happy fishing to you and your family.

From George & Marilyn Sechrist:

There are three things that we loved about leon:
1. No matter where you passed him in Big Brown, he always waved.
2. He always knew which garage door was open, so our packages were never exposed to the weather.
3. When I worked for Triton, I always looked forward to either the pre-race or post-race NASCAR discussions with him.
Leon, Marilyn and I will miss your smiling face and great attitude around Oriental. Enjoy your retirement!

From Georgie Powell:

My thoughts of leon are many. After Grady left his stool at red lee’s grill, Leon moved on in to get a quick burger and dog and simply talk to Red and Sophia Lee.

From Carolyn Howell”“

I have never had the chance to meet Leon. We are part-time residents of Green Bay Marina. Whenever we are there and Leon comes through on his “Big Brown” truck my Australian shepherd Coupe barks “hello” to him.

From Charis Hill:

As a child I used to follow Leon around on my bike, trying to keep up with his truck to see where he was stopping next. Through the years we’ve exchanged stories about our lives and dreams that we have for our futures. I will certainly miss pedaling my legs as fast as they can go, chasing the “UPS man.” Thanks for making a difference in my life and having a positive impact on Oriental, Leon!

And one tip from Michelle Fodrey:

Just a short note. You might want to spread the word. Leon, our beloved retiring UPS man, loves Snickers candy bars. Since he will be honored in the Croaker Festival Parade, thought we might all lavish him with Snickers.

Want to add your Leon story? Email it in to info@towndock.net and we’ll add it to The Leon Chronicles.

Related Link:

Leon’s Retiring

Posted Thursday July 3, 2008 by Melinda Penkava


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