Every year, athletic teenagers in Woworth County, Wisconsin, audition for an unusual summer job: mail leaping. They must demonstrate that they can leap from a moving boat onto a private dock, deliver mail, and then return to the boat before it passes by.
Residents of Lake Geneva have been getting mail delivered by boat since before the area’s roads were established, so it’s become something of a local institution that draws a large number of tourists. During the summer months, the mail boat can carry up to 160 visitors on mail delivery runs and is nearly always filled.
Many people would gladly pay to be able to see and video the jumping mailmen carry the mail to the about 60 homes on Lake Geneva.
Photo: Anna Harris/Flickr
Every summer, the United States Postal Service hires six jumping mailmen, and to find the best, it organises yearly tryouts on Lake Geneva. Candidates must demonstrate that they are physically capable of jumping from a 5 mph postal boat onto the wooden dock of a mail recipient, delivering their mail to the mailbox, and then jumping back on the boat before it passes by.
A normal Lake Geneva postman will miss the return jump into the mail boat at least once throughout their career, which means they must be rescued out of the water and work the remainder of the day wet, according to Wikipedia. Each postman leaps 45 to 60 times every day, and some fall in the water multiple times.
“The mailbox, it’s like 30 feet away from the boat, and then the mailbox is facing toward shore, so it’s really hard to do that exchange and make sure you get back on the boat, so you have to be going fast,” one jumping mailman told WISN-Channel 12 in Milwaukee.
Mail leaping is just a really great summer job for the kids that try out to be jumping postmen, but for the inhabitants of Lake Geneva, it’s a chance to preserve nearly a century of history.
via Atlas Obscura