Neither hills, heat nor rabbits

Updated: 2011-09-06 07:44

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Luo Xiying's job has cost her more than 40 pairs of shoes and four bicycles.

Neither hills, heat nor rabbits

Luo Xiying, a post woman in Jiangxi province for the past 15 years, delivers letters to a resident. [Photo / Xinhua]

As a post woman in Chenfang town, Jiangxi province, Luo arrives at the office each day at 7:30 am (having pulled herself out of bed an hour and a half earlier).

In the morning she sorts letters, papers and parcels, and acts as the only clerk in the office. In the afternoon, she carries the mail to people living in eight villages scattered in the hills.

Two roads lead to the villages. One winds among hills and streams before reaching one village about 20 km away, and can only be covered by foot. The other is 25 km long, allows the use of a bicycle and has seven villages along the way.

Luo said it often takes five hours to finish a round trip of deliveries, and it's hard to say which route is easier.

"It's a bit more tiring to walk the hilly road, because I have to climb the hills. Yet on the other route I probably carry more mail by bike," she said.

Luo, 43, the daughter of a farmers' family in Chenfang, worked on the farm before becoming a postal worker.

In 1996, the post office asked Luo's parents if she would like to fill a temporary vacancy. Luo didn't expect that "temporary" position to last for 10 years, until she became an official and the only employee of the post office in 2008.

She used to carry up to 55 kg of mail, but now she is not as strong as she used to be, and there are fewer letters and telegrams today.

Yet she is proud that she has never lost one letter or made a late delivery.

"The hills seem dangerous, though. I seldom see other people walking. Sometimes there are animals popping out of the woods, such as rabbits and boar," Luo said. "It's a bit scary."

But animals are not the only frightening thing she has run into. In 2001, Luo was stopped by a man attempting to rob her.

"I was carrying parcels of mail with a pole, and suddenly he came out of the woods, asking me to give him my money."

She finally drove the robber away.

"I was so scared, there was really nothing I could do but put down the mail, grab the pole in my hand, and shout out loud."

She also suffered heatstroke while working in summer, and once passed out on the way for two hours.

"Now besides food and water, I take some medicine for heatstroke," she said.

The hardships don't stop her love for the job, however. Luo said the villagers treat her like a family member, and sometimes invite her for a meal or to stay for the night.

 Neither hills, heat nor rabbits

 Luo Xiying, a post woman in Jiangxi province for the past 15 years, is on her way to deliver letters. [Photo / Xinhua]

The villages are mostly inhabited by middle-aged and elderly people.

"Every time they see me, even from a distance, they greet me aloud," Luo said.

"Some of them have a hard time getting downtown because the road is bad. So in addition to bringing the mail, they also ask me to bring them things they need, such as soy sauce."

Fifty-year-old Xu Shuihua, who is taking care of her 9-year-old grandson while her son and daughter-in-law work in another province, has known Luo for many years.

"The elderly people have been left here by younger ones who have gone out to work. Sometimes we buy things that may be too heavy to carry, and Luo helps us by carrying them with her pole, though she is already tired," Xu said.

"She is very nice. It's a natural thing we invite her for lunch or give her something. We all have feelings."

Wu Guohua, head of the Yanshan county post office, thinks Luo is an honest and kind-hearted woman.

"We have visited local people who Luo does deliveries for. They speak highly of her. She gets along with them very well. I believe it's because she has been doing a good job."

Xia Yingfang, 21, Luo's daughter, said: "It doesn't matter what kind of job my mother is doing. She has been a post woman for so long. She feels connected to it, even though the job is not easy."

"I support her as long as she is happy with it," she said.

Having spent most of her life working in the town where she was born, Luo finally got the chance to visit Myanmar in 2009 on a tour organized for outstanding postal workers in Jiangxi province.

"Many years ago, when I heard the jet engine in the sky, I thought to myself, 'if only I could travel by plane'," Luo said with a laugh.

"Now my dream has come true. I had never thought this day would come. My fate has changed."