Longtime mail carrier Floyd Martin retired from his neighborhood route in Marietta, Ga., on Thursday, which might have called for a handshake or even a cake to send him off.
Instead, the Atlanta suburb made a show of love and respect so big for Martin, it trended on social media, as tens of thousands of people across the country are cheering along for what Floyd has meant to the community.
Neighbors in Marietta decorated their mailboxes for him, presented him with gifts and threw a tearful block party as they recounted all they ways he has been more than a mail carrier over the past 20 years.
Jennifer Brett, a journalist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wanted to document what her town was doing for Martin, so on his last day, she jumped in his truck with him and rode along as he delivered mail to some of the 500 houses on his route. Then she wrote a Twitter feed about what she saw.
“Mr. Floyd is our hometown celebrity,” Brett said in an interview with The Washington Post.
Neighbor after neighbor had a story to tell about Martin, describing how he always picks up the newspaper and brings it to elderly residents, or feeds neighborhood cats or has a lollipop on hand for the kids.
Brett tweeted: “Doreen Hipps, 87, has been on his route since the beginning. Her granddaughter Amanda Seals spoke on her behalf tonight. ‘Dementia has set in, and she doesn’t see well anymore, but she still knows Floyd.’ ”
Also in Brett’s thread: “ ‘This is my friend Jim,’ Floyd said, introducing Jim Pietrowski. Jim’s wife Charlotte recalled when the kids next door were little, they’d wait at the window for Mr. Floyd to roll up. They knew he was good for a lollipop. ‘When we met Floyd, it was like he was an old friend.’ ”
And: "Kids on his route love, love, L-O-V-E Mr. Floyd. Little Mae Bullington dressed up as Mr. Floyd on the day her school had career day. ‘I was so flattered,’ he said. ‘It touched my heart.’ "
Brett, a multiplatform journalist and digital coach at newspaper, said that when she woke up Friday morning after the party and her Twitter thread had blown up, she couldn’t believe how many people were moved by Martin. She wrote a story about it.
“I’m a journalist and a resident of my little town,” Brett said. “I had no idea when I tweeted about it that it would go bonkers.”
Another neighbor started a GoFundMe to send Martin to Hawaii, a dream trip he always wanted to make. The fundraiser stated growing Friday morning and has reached more than $13,000. People left comments including, “This guy reminds me of our guy, Reggie. There are truly amazing people out there. Happy retirement!”
Then Delta Air Lines called Brett and offered to fly Martin to Hawaii for free, Brett said.
“Twitter can be good and bad,” Brett said. “I’m so glad this is turning out good.”
In various videos from his celebration, Martin proclaimed his love for the community. He’s been a mail carrier for 35 years, and he’s had the Marietta route for 20.
“I could have left them a long time ago but I wouldn’t," he said. “Because I love them.”
“Floyd said tonight’s sendoff was the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for him. His parting words: ‘Continue to take care of each other, and smile when you think of me.’”