While working one of the most boring jobs on earth, Raymond Argel met the love of his life.
He was toiling at the post office while sitting before a mail processing machine, typing numbers on a keypad.
She worked the same job. At 6 feet tall, Dawn matched Argel in height, although her blonde tresses contrasted Argel’s dark hair and complexion.
The two became friends, but were each dating someone else.
“We were friends first, and then it just worked into something else,” said Argel.
The two would hang out at her house and play Nintendo or go bowling. Then, they each ended their romantic entanglements the same week.
One day at Dawn’s house, an ex-boyfriend called, wanting to reunite. Dawn declined. Dawn and Argel were an item.
For their first date, they saw a midnight movie. Three years later, they married.
When they invited co-workers to their Mesa wedding, “they were in shock because nobody knew we were dating,” said Argel.
Argel had an extra year of seniority over his fiancée, but no matter.
“When we were at work, we were at work, and when we were at home, we were at home.”
Argel, a tall and substantial 49-year-old who wears glasses and lives in Payson, works in Pine as the postmaster. He started Aug. 1, but has worked with the U.S. Postal Service for 25 years.
He started off as a mail handler in Phoenix, but has spent time as a clerk, who distributes mail to carriers, as a carrier with a route, and most recently, as a supervisor in Payson. Supervisors fall one rank below postmaster.
Finally, as postmaster, Argel enjoys his spot as head honcho. He likes being in charge and takes pride in creating a relaxed atmosphere conducive to happy employees.
As a boy in Florence, Argel thought of being a lawyer. He ultimately took two years of pre-veterinary classes at the University of Arizona and later, two years of business classes at Arizona State University, but decided that college wasn’t the route for him.
He took the postal worker test, a relatively simple examination that ensures potential mail clerks can match addresses.
Test takers must score a 75 to pass, but should score in the 90s if they want a job quickly, said Argel.
He passed, but spent the next two years first working landscaping at his uncle’s company and then working his way up in retail.
By the time the Postal Service called, Argel had forgotten he applied. He accepted a job working nights at the Postal Service in front of the mail processing machine and worked days at his retail job, catching about four hours of sleep each night.
The Postal Service attracts so many workers because it offers great job security — few people get fired — and good pay, said Argel. Unfortunately, that requires staying awake.
“My job when I first started was very boring,” Argel said.
But after six months, he became a clerk and distributed mail to carriers. Six years ago, he moved to Payson to escape the Valley heat, traffic and long commutes.
He worked part-time flexible shifts as a window clerk in Payson, which essentially means the office called him when they needed him. After some time and another position switch, Argel became supervisor in Payson before winning the top spot at Pine’s post office.
Postmasters mostly make sure that everyone follows the rules, said Argel.
“I like being in charge,” he said. “I like having responsibility. I like putting my stamp on things.”
Argel and Dawn now have two children, a 13-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
Although Argel says he has little time for hobbies, he helps with Julia Randall Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization.
Dawn stays home with the kids.
And the two lovebirds that met during a shift at the post office, now live happily in Rim Country’s cool mountain town.