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A return trip Brussels-Ostend to deliver the mail

Every morning, when exiting Midi Station by its South side, commuters meet the postman with his bicycle. With his mail bag at the front and two others at the back of his electric bike, he is known as in a village around Bara Square. Inhabitants stop him to say hello, to ask him for news and sometimes to complain about his backups when he is on leave.

He smiles, he likes this recognition. That's probably why he's agreed to start his day so early for the last six years.

The postman lives on the Belgian coast. “I wake up every day at 3:40 to take the Ostend-Brussels train at 4:42. At 6 o’clock, I arrive in Brussels”. He must then reach the Anderlecht depot.

He gets his bike from these premises. He's the only one using it in this neighbourhood.  "Others didn't want it. Another postman has a bicycle which is not electric. For me, it's easier to tour by bike as I have back problems. Besides, I don't have a driver's license." He then delivers the mail around the entire Autonomie and Clemenceau districts.

"I like being outside, getting to know people and talking. I wanted to be a mailman for that.”

Jacques, in his fifties, began his career as a postman in Ostend. There, 2-wheel vehicles are the only means of locomotion for postmen in summer as well as in winter. He worked there for many years before being transferred to the capital.

In Brussels, cycling postmen are rarer. Most of his colleagues take the subway and the bus. "I reckon I go faster with my bike.”

No more waiting at bus stops between the depot and his districts. In his profession, speed is a precious asset. A postman must serve about 1250 mailboxes every day. So, of course, every minute counts. He usually finishes his day around 1pm and goes home to rest.

Despite the shift in schedules and the sustained rhythm, he does not get tired. "I like being outside, getting to know people and talking. I wanted to be a mailman for that. I do not regret accepting the position in Brussels. I also keep in shape because I've made my job a sport."

An article from Flavie Gauthier

Photos by Gilles Bolland