Traveling the same route day-in and day-out, postal workers get to know the neighborhoods quite well. And it's that knowledge, as well as keen eyes, quick-thinking and a commitment to serve that seems to turn so many of them into everyday heroes.
Detroit mailman Darrian Crutcher is one of those heroes. While delivering mail Tuesday, he saw a house on fire, according to WJBK-TV, while the homeowner was inside. Crutcher found a garden hose, rushed inside and used it to battle the blaze, getting it under control until firefighters arrived. One firefighter told the news station the mailman did a great job, and even asked him to think about a change in careers. But as soon as the fire was in the hands of professionals, Crutcher went right back to his route.
"I wouldn't say a hero," he told WJBK-TV. "It was a blessing for me to be at that spot at that particular time."
Mail delivery isn't the easiest of work even on a normal day. Postal workers are likely worried about their future as the financially-strapped post U.S. Postal Service faces cutbacks. And they face danger on their routes: In Detroit, there were 33 dog attacks on letter carriers reported last year, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Los Angeles had the most attacks, with 69.
But that hasn't stopped letter carriers like Crutcher from performing heroic and kind acts on the job.
Earlier this month, North Carolina postal worker Michael Wheeley checked on a resident when he realized the man hadn't taken in medications he had received in the mail, according to WFMY-TV. He found the man, who was recovering from a stroke, inside and unable to move. His caretaker had quit, and the man had gone without food or medicine for three days.
Wheeley echoed Crutcher's modesty, telling the news station, "I don't deserve any credit or anything. ... I'm just, doing my job."
In January, an Ohio mailman with a keen eye saved a resident on his route. Jason Jones noticed that the normally-friendly customer hadn't picked up his mail or left footprints in the snow. He called police repeatedly to check on the 91-year-old man, who was found unconscious, malnourished and dehydrated.
Kathy Stratton, an Illinois mail carrier, made a similar save last year when she noticed a friendly resident hadn't picked up his mail, according to KTVI-TV. She called authorities, who found the man laying on the ground, where he had been since suffering a stroke two days prior.
It was actually the second time Stratton had saved someone on her route.
But it's not just their lifesaving skills that make postal workers everyday heroes. Last week, Detroit-area postal worker John Dick received the Humanitarian of the Year award from the National Association of Letter Carriers. After befriending a man on his route, Dick made a dying wish come true last year.
According to the Royal Oak Tribune, Dick and Gregg Glowacz became friends over a shared love of motorcycles and "backslapping tomfoolery."
After Glowacz had brain-aneurysm surgery and two strokes, he was left quadriplegic, according to the paper. During his time in the hospital, Dick repeatedly visited, delivering mail to his bedside, the Tribune reports. As Glowacz's health deteriorated, he lost the ability to speak and finally communicated that he wanted to go off life support. But in his final days, Dick took him on his last motorcycle ride in a sidecar. Then, the two men, along with family and friends celebrated Glowacz's life with a festive party.
Glowacz's wife was in attendance when Dick accepted his humanitarian award in honor of his late friend.
That's a mailman who goes above and beyond.