Steve Strom visits 270 homes each day, driving 123 miles each day. He is one of Alta's rural mail carriers and after 28 years, he will be retiring.
Strom has been employed with the Alta post office since 1979, beginning as a substitute driver and since 1985 has been full time. He has been given credit for three years he spent in the united States Air Force so according to the government, he has provided 31 years of service.
Over the 28 years as a carrier, he has logged some pretty impressive statistics on his route:
* He has driven approximately 700,000 miles
* He has had somewhere between 150 and 200 flat tires
* He has gone through 75 or 80 sets of brakes
* He has gone through eight cars (one that lasted 11 years and chalked up 250,000 miles)
* He went in the ditch only one time
* He had one accident (But fortunately was not hurt)
Strom has loved his job and can't help but get "carried" away when he speaks of it.
"It's been a great job for a lot of year. It's the kind of job I haven't minded getting up everyday to do," he said. "I have worked with some wonderful people and I've had a lot of great customers. It's been a super career and couldn't have asked for anything better."
There have been a number of notable changes through the years.
Mail now comes to the post office after being presorted by address by a highly intelligent machine at the Sioux City post office. For many years, the mail arrived in bags and the carriers were required to sort it all. The new system makes the job much simpler.
The number of newspapers is down, Strom says of the materials he prepares and deliver daily. "At one time, everyone took a newspaper - the Des Moines paper or the Sioux City paper. Now only about 50 percent of the people get a paper and that's the Storm Lake paper." He justifies that change with the wide use of internet and perhaps the costs.
The numbers of packages he delivers is up drastically with many people using Ebay
Less than half of his customers today are farmers; many of those he delivers to in the country are merely residing on acreages.
He enjoys the fact that he works in a small post office where he knows most of the people on his route. "I know 90 percent of them, their kids and their granddads," Strom said proudly. He is delivering to many third generations.
"It's a good feeling knowing who you're dealing with," he said, and they are probably equally as thankful. He has picked up several farmers on his stops and driven them down the road to their fields.
The motto that the mail man will get the mail through any kind of weather is quite true. "We'll get wherever we can," Strom said adding that visibility problems have brought the carriers in before the routes are complete.
He compliments the Buena Vista County road department for the road maintenance they provide. He knows their dedication well. "I wave at some county worker most everyday."
Something that many passersby may wonder is, "How do those mail carriers drive sitting on the opposite side of the front seat?
"You just learn to do it," Strom said, adding that he actually feels more comfortable sitting near the right window, stretching his legs to the gas pedal and brakes and extending his arm to steer than he does sitting directly behind the steering wheel.
Strom, and his wife Betty, grew up in Alta. He has always enjoyed the community and being involved.
He was a baseball umpire for 28 years, a football referee for 27 years (giving up those two loves over the last two years) coached junior high football for 15 years and coached high school golf for eight years. Strom also served on the Alta Fire Department for 15 years and was an EMT.
He said he misses the community involvement but continues to be one of the best Alta Cyclone fans and will forever be an Iowa Hawkeye fan!
And he will miss his job.
"I'll miss it a lot and I'll miss the people."
Strom and his wife have three children - Staci, Joni and Greg (Gayle). He has another job lined up that won't be as dusty.
His last day of work will be Feb. 1. A special retirement coffee has been planed for Strom from 9-10 a.m. at the Alta post office. Please stop by.