On Wednesday afternoon, customers of Cesar Carde, who is retiring from a job with the Post Office in Greenwich, mostly recently on Amogerone Crossway, after 37 years, conspired to surprise him with a sendoff in Greenwich Common featuring refreshments, a tent, banner, balloons, a book for well wishes and a gift he can put to use during the trip he is planning to South America with stops in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, and Mexico. His wife Rosa will join him for a few weeks during the journey.
Among the crowd was Marie Diatta, a customer of Cesar Carde’s at the post office, who started a poll on the social media site Nextdoor asking fans of Mr. Carde what they’d like to do to thank and honor Mr. Carde.
She said there was agreement to start a GoFundMe to raise money, with a mention of Mr. Carde’s “stellar services at the post office, his kindness and his humanity.” As of July 1, it had raised $1,580.
“I was amazed at the outpouring,” Ms Diatta said.
“I’m speechless,” Carde said.
“I’ve never had a positive surprise like this. It is with great sadness that I leave. But I have many memory sticks full of memories with all of you and many conversations I will take with me. I’ve been so grateful to fall into such a beautiful community.”
Those who gathered took turns thanking Cesar for his upbeat attitude and impact he had on customers.
“For people who wait online and don’t know what they’re doing, they get frustrated – you’re the only one there, you let them in. You spoil this community and we’re incredibly grateful for you,” one friend said.
“I’m going on to the next chapter of my life,” Cesar said, adding that he might volunteer for First Presbyterian Church so that if a family loses their house due to a fire he can be there to help.
He said that about 18 years earlier when he and his brother were asleep at home in Bridgeport he heard a neighbor banging on his door.
“They yelled, ‘Papi Papi, your house is on fire. I opened up my eyes and realized the back of the house was on fire. My brother lived on the second floor and I lived on the third floor,” he recalled, adding that to get his brother’s attention over the hum of the air conditioners he threw rocks at his brother’s window.
“Finally he came out, and I said, ‘Get your family out.’ The whole house was destroyed.”
Mr. Carde recalled standing outside his destroyed house in his underwear when a total stranger pulled up in his car and asked what was wrong.
“I told him I just lost my house. He went and got me a pair of pants,” he said. “Total stranger – they were 20 sizes too big, but total stranger!”
“I’ll never forget people from the Red Cross came. I lost my money, I lost everything I had. Agencies came and helped me out, got me a place to stay for a few days. I’ll never forget, they put me up in a hotel with a restaurant. I told the lady, ‘I’m sad because I don’t have money to give you.’ I was pretty depressed.”
“She asked, ‘You see that family over there?’ There were two empty chairs at their table. ‘That family lost two members. You have all your family here. Straighten your stuff out.’ I realized there was more to life.”
“When you serve someone from the kindness of your heart, everything goes flawlessly,” Carde said. “I thank God for allowing me to be myself. I’m here to serve.”
Saying “So Long” to Cesar at Greenwich Post Office