Statehouse postman Jose Webb reflects on three decades of service
Jose Webb ends his 32-year tenure with the Indiana House today. (Photo by Marissa Meador)
One letter at a time, Jose Webb has been delivering mail to Indiana legislators and staff for nearly three decades — always with a smile.
His official title is postmaster for the House of Representatives, and he’ll serve his final day on the job Thursday.
Amid the flurries of new legislation, partisan divisions and rapid shifts in power and politics, it takes doorkeepers, janitors and dozens of other staff like Webb to keep the General Assembly moving.
Humming as he pushes a cart along his route on a Tuesday morning, Webb is stopped by warm greetings and laments over his approaching retirement. Everywhere he goes:
“Hey, hey, hey!”
“I’m gonna miss you!”
He navigates the narrow halls of legislative offices, decorated by ornate carpet and thick gold frames. If a door is closed, he drops the rubber-banded pack of mail by the door and gives it a soft knock. If it’s ajar, he greets the people in the offices — usually legislative assistants — and drops off their mail, sometimes exchanging it for outgoing letters and packages.
“Lotta walking, ain’t it,” he says as he walks up the stairs for the next batch of deliveries.
How it began
Webb was working at FedEx when he was offered a part-time housekeeping job at the Statehouse in 1991. He worked both jobs for three years until he was offered the postman job, which was a full-time position. He accepted, and it became the job he would work for the next 29 years.
Webb calls the month he first got hired — November of 1991 — the luckiest month of his life. In the same week he was offered a job, he also met his future wife, Dawn. Although Webb didn’t know he would end up working at the Statehouse, he said it became a dream job.
Webb was born and raised in Indianapolis, a graduate of Arsenal Technical High School. His dad worked at Weston Electric and his mom was a teacher’s assistant. Webb has two daughters, including one who passed away from cancer in 2020, as well as grandchildren. Webb is also a great grandfather to a girl who will soon be in fourth grade.
Each day, Webb has a total of 110 boxes of mail to deliver, which includes 100 representatives and ten staff members.
The first part of Webb’s daily tasks includes picking up the mail from USPS and sorting it. He slides mail into the box of the assigned legislator, color-coded red or blue for their political party, and then bundles the mail according to the legislative assistants that handle it. While he sorts, he listens to the radio — B105.7, which he calls “office music.”
“Keeps me on my toes,” he said.
Located in the basement of the building, Webb’s office is small and plain. He has taken down the pictures on his desk in preparation for his retirement, but a few trinkets remain sprinkled across the room. One is a model United States Postal Service truck labeled “Jose Webb, House Postmaster,” which Webb said was a gift from former Valparaiso Rep. Greg Simms, who served from 2007 to 2008.
Although the Statehouse is dominated by Republicans now, things were not always that way. In 1992, shortly after Webb started, Democrats controlled the House of Representatives. The party held a slim grasp on the chamber in all years except 1994 and 2004 until Republicans took back control in 2010.
Webb said the job has taught him how quickly things can shift in the Statehouse, whether it’s people, politics or offices.
“You gotta get used to change here,” he said.
Beyond the political makeup of the legislature, Webb has also seen a lot of change in individuals, whether it’s a staff member leaving or a legislator being voted out. Webb recalls seeing people who were once interns go on to become legislators, citing examples in Rep. Justin Moed, D-Indianapolis and Rep. Kyle Pierce, R-Anderson.
In a building ruled by politics, Webb’s neutrality is unique. His duty to his work, carrying constituent mail that could range from an angry letter about a legislator’s performance to a glowing review of the slate of recently passed laws, transcends the partisanship of the world around him. When Webb is working, a legislator’s party simply determines how the mail is sorted.
This year, many Hoosiers have taken to protest to show their opposition to controversial bills like House Bill 1608; nationally, trust in government is nearing historic lows. In general, Webb said he thinks everyone should come down to meet their legislators. He said hearing different opinions through his work has made him more understanding toward different viewpoints.
Back in the office, Webb feeds outgoing mail through a machine that stamps postage on the envelopes. Above the machine is a shelf with package labels and a tub of hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol labeled “Paper Cut Kit.”
“Paper cuts are often,” he said.
On the adjacent wall, a calendar counts the days until Webb’s retirement, with a red circle around May 26 — “Last Friday,” it reads. Webb’s last day of work is Thursday, but he plans to come in one final time on Friday for coffee and donuts, he said.
Though sometimes repetitive, there have been a few crazy days in his position. Back in 2006, a letter brimming with a white substance briefly shut down the building before it was tested and found to be a hoax.
Webb’s work is not as visible as the legislators, but his daily rounds have won him the appreciation and gratitude of his peers. When House Speaker Todd Huston gave recognition shoutouts at the end of the legislative session, Webb received the biggest round of applause.
Webb’s first official week of retirement falls on the same week as his birthday, when he will turn 62. He plans to celebrate it with rest, relaxation and rejuvenation, he said.
Webb said he loves the outdoors and hopes to spend his retirement gardening and camping with his wife. He won’t miss working, he said, but he will certainly miss the friends he made through the years.
“Makes you wanna stick around,” he said.
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