Barbara D’Alessio still remembers her first day on the job at the Washington Street post office in Saratoga Springs 10 years ago. “December 14 on a Saturday,” she says. “Now that is prime time, right? The line was out the door and in the other room.”
Coming to Saratoga from the small village of Sea Cliff, Long Island, D’Alessio had never experienced anything quite like the Spa City’s bustling holiday rush. “Even at Christmas,” she says of her hometown, “you had five people [in line]. Nothing!”
While others certainly would have balked at the drastic change in pace, D’Alessio thrived. A natural-born people person with a sense of humor that disarms and softens even the most disgruntled among us, D’Alessio stepped up to the clerk’s window with a smile, a joke, and a kind word—the trifecta that has marked her approach to customer service for the past 29 years.
While such acts of friendliness are second nature for D’Alessio, her warm, infectious way of engaging with people often startles others out of their habitual ways of being. She recalls a moment early on in her career when a co-worker took her aside and told her, “You know, people actually line up and wait for you!”
“I have a following,” D’Alessio deadpans.
She jokes but it’s true. Take a glance through online reviews and you’ll find folks singing her high praises more than once. When customers see her elsewhere around town, they go out of their way to say hello.
Underneath her humor is a deep regard for connection and compassion. “Can’t you just be nice to people?” she asks. D’Alessio recognizes that with each encounter we have, we are given a choice as to how we’d like to show up for one another—and that when we choose kindness, we are cultivating our connection to our community.
D’Alessio illustrates how simple this can be. “This lady came in today,” she says. “One letter—just to mail it out. Did she have to come and talk to me? No.” That she did made all the difference. D’Alessio is a firm believer that magic lies in these small choices and that as the holiday season draws near, we’re reminded of this even more.
Sure, the holidays mean busier lines, but that doesn’t bother D’Alessio. She looks forward to the season. “People are happier,” she says. “Saratoga is a happy place to be.”