Postal Clerk Helps Patrons Find Best Way to Mail Packages

Ilana Konerding, postal clerk, is retiring from Wesleyan after 28 years.
Posted 06/25/08
Q: Ilana, you’re retiring from Wesleyan June 30. How many years does your Wesleyan career span?

A: I started at Wesleyan in September 1984. I was an administrative assistant in the Psychology Department part-time for two years, and then I was an admin in the Dance Department part-time for 14 years. I came to Wesleyan Station eight years ago as a full-time postal clerk.

Q: Do you remember what stamps cost then?

A: Oh, I don’t know. Maybe 33 or 34 cents.

Q: What have been the biggest changes at Wes Station in the past eight years?

A: Things have become a lot more automated. We can assign all packages computer IDs now. Computers have speeded up several processes around here.

Q: What goes on during your day?

A: When I get in, I make sure there’s money in the cash register. I get the post meter machine and computers running. During the school year, the window opens at 9, and I work at the window until lunch time. The other postal clerk, Holly Nicolas, works at the window when I am at lunch and on breaks. We service the university community and public for mailing things out. When we don’t have customers, we sort mail and supervise any student workers. The window closes at 4:30.

A: What is the busiest time of the day?

Q: We get the most customers right around the lunch break. We don’t get too many in the morning.

Q: What will you miss the most about Wes Station?

A: I will miss working with Holly and the students who were always thankful when I was able to find them a cheaper or faster way to send something. I will miss my regular customers. I will miss meeting people. Everyone comes here. Even Michael Roth has come here a couple of times to buy stamps.

Q: What won’t you miss?

A: I won’t miss the students who come rushing up to the window five minutes before we close on Friday with a resume that needs to be mailed to Hong Kong and they don’t have enough money and the line is too long at the ATM.

Q: What are your thoughts on the new Wesleyan Station inside the Usdan Center?

A: I have really enjoyed working in the new space this year, not just because it is new, but I can look out and see daylight and people. When Wes Station was located in the basement of the old Davenport Campus Center, I felt like I was working in this little tiny cubicle behind a cage. It was extremely cold and uncomfortable there. Here, at Usdan, it is completely different. We’re also on two floors here, so there is a lot more space.

Q: Where did you go to college and when?

A: I went to Queens College in the 60s. That was during the anti-Vietnam era, you know. I wore a lot of hippie clothes and listened to that type of music and I protested against the war. I majored in sociology.

Q: What did you do before Wesleyan?

A: From 1972 to 1984, I was able to stay at home and raise my kids. But that’s the way it was back then. Most mothers did stay at home with their kids. You don’t see that too much nowadays. Now there’s even that nice preschool right here on campus. We sure didn’t have options like that back then.

Q: Your husband work here too?

A: Erhard Konerding is my husband. He is a documents librarian in Olin Library. He started at Wesleyan in 1972.

Q: Will he be retiring too?

A: No, he wants to work at least a few more years. His mother worked until she was 82. I tell him he can’t stop working earlier than his mother did.

Q: What are you looking forward to doing during your retirement?

A: I’m excited that I will be able to spend more time with my family. I have a son and granddaughter in California, and a daughter and granddaughter here in Connecticut. I hope when the grandchildren turn 5 or 6, I will be able to take them camping. I also love to garden, and I have lots of work I’d like to get done on my flower beds. It seems every day that was a beautiful day for gardening, I had to go into work. I’m also looking forward to spending more time at the Freeman Athletic Center in the pool doing water aerobics. Later on, I’d like to start volunteering at a humane society once a week. Erhard and I have a 14-year-old dog, and we don’t want to get another dog, so at least if I work at a humane society I can keep in contact with dogs. I’m not a cat person.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor