The postal worker: Roswitha Sesterhenn from Muenstermaifeld | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.06.2010
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The postal worker: Roswitha Sesterhenn from Muenstermaifeld

As a postal worker, Roswitha Sesterhenn pounds the pavements for a living – even though she describes herself as a bit of a couch potato in her free time.

Roswitha Sesterhenn

Roswitha Sesterhenn

While most people are still snugly tucked up in bed, Roswitha Sesterhenn is already on her way to work. Her alarm goes off at 4:20am every morning. She takes a quick shower, grabs a cup of coffee and makes herself a packed lunch - and then she's off. At least she doesn't need to spend long choosing her outfit: As a postal worker, she has to wear a uniform.

Roswitha Sesterhenn standing outside a front door

The life of a postal worker - going from door to door

She leaves the house by 5:30am at the latest. Now 50, she lives in Keldung, a village with just 231 inhabitants which is part of greater Muenstermaifeld in Rheinland Palatinate. She was born and bred in this picturesque region and has never been remotely tempted to leave.

“I'm a real country bumpkin,” she says.

10 minutes and 16 kilometers later, she arrives at her place of work: The postal sorting office in Kobern-Gondorf, an idyllic spot on the River Moselle best-known for its vineyards. Roswitha is team leader.

roswitha and a colleague

Checking out who delivers what

She distributes the mail amongst the postal workers, who then divide it between them into their respective catchment areas. The sorting office serves 23 catchment areas and employs 40 postal workers. They need to have stamina and a level head. Roswitha herself juggles a lot of responsibilities. "I'm in charge of everything from toilet paper to biros,” she laughs.

Her colleagues describe her as easygoing, and she gets on well with all of them. She's very hands-on – hefting piles of mail, sorting out letters and stacking crates in her yellow company car. She's only the boss until 9am. Then she too heads out of the office to deliver the mail.

The Deutsche Post Volkswagens are well-suited to the narrow and winding roads typical of this part of Germany. Roswitha likes to park as close to the mailboxes as possible so she doesn't need to walk too far. Even so, her average shift still involves a lot of to-ing and fro-ing.

Roswitha getting out of a postal van

In and out of the car umpteen times a day

Her working day is over by 2 o' clock in the afternoon. She usually takes a nap for an hour. In the early evening she fixes supper for her husband Tony, who works at a local newspaper as a media adviser and volunteers as a coach for the local football team.

Roswitha says she isn't a great cook, even though her husband begs to differ. She'd rather spend her free time reading historical romances or chatting on the phone to her sister, who lives 100 kilometers away.

They've become closer since the death of their mother, whom Roswitha had been looking after. Last month saw the arrival of a new addition to the family: A grandson. And fortunately, he's just around the corner. Roswitha's son Thomas and his family live in the neighboring village.

Author: Yuliya Siatkova (jp)
Editor: Rina Goldenberg

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