Saturday, August 10, 2002

Special Delivery

Mailman a portrait in courage

        Good news is where you find it.

        Sometimes it arrives in the morning mail.

        Not in a letter. But with a letter carrier.

        David Krisko has been my mailman since March. He handles the mail with care.

        Always smiling, he brightens the day. Even when he delivers bills.

        There's a reason for his smile. David loves his work.

        He told me this by crossing his hands on his chest. That's the sign for “love.”

        David is deaf.

        This makes him a one-of-a-kind mailman in Cincinnati. The Postal Service employs 1,136 letter carriers to deliver the mail to ZIP Codes beginning with the digits 452.

        Out of all the letter carriers toting sacks of mail to Queen City addresses, this 50-year-old man is the only one who's deaf.

        David prefers “deaf” over “hearing impaired.”

        “I was born deaf,” he said. Chuckling, he added: “I tell people I like it quiet all the time.”

        We sat and talked in the manager's quarters of the Westwood branch Post Office.

        David spoke through his interpreter, friend and fellow letter carrier, Andrew “AJ” Jackson.

        AJ signs fluently. “Been doing it for as long as I can remember,” he said. His mom and dad, Deloris and Joe Jackson, lost their hearing at the ages of 4 and 3, respectively, to spinal meningitis.

        Asked about his unique status with the post office, David sat up straight. Out went his chest. His smile widened.

        “I feel proud,” he said, his hands responding to AJ's signed version of my question.

        “It shows deaf people can pretty much do whatever they want.”

        David signed to AJ that he grew up in Cleveland.

        Home is in Harrison, Ohio, with his wife, Roseanne. “She's deaf, too.”

        His hobby is magic. A member of the Society of American Magicians, he specializes in card tricks. He can make aces vanish. “I can't make your bills disappear.”

        He has two daughters, Anna and Christina, and one granddaughter, Faith.

        Her grandfather has lots of faith in himself. But David keeps that quiet. He lets his deeds speak for him.

        The first time he met AJ, at a local deaf club's silent supper, David told him he wanted to be a letter carrier.

        “I love to work outside,” David said. “On the street you are your own boss. You feel free.”

        A mailman since 1994, AJ encouraged David.

        “I told him, other than his head being on a swivel more than a hearing letter carrier as he looked for dogs, he had nothing to worry about. Deaf folks have a sixth sense. They know what's going on around them.”

        Two years after talking with AJ, David started delivering mail on west-side streets in April 2001.

        Walking with confident strides, he goes smoothly from door to door. Delivering a package, he smiles and waves hello when a door opens. He answers questions by pen and his ever-present pad of paper.

        To me, this takes a special kind of courage. David doesn't hide behind his deafness. Nor does he let it get him down.

        He aims to succeed at this job. “Do it,” he said, “till I drop.”

        When a woman on his route expressed surprise to him, in sign language, that a deaf man was delivering mail, he smiled.

        Then he signed this reply:

        “I don't need a phone to do my job. I work with my hands.”

        And his heart.

        Call Cliff Radel at 768-8379; or e-mail:



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