Life’s Special Deliveries


IF I WERE A GUY, I’d want two things in life: A big-screen TV and a job where I could wear shorts. Jeff Acosta has at least one of these covered. He wears shorts every day on his job delivering packages in Montclair. Twenty-nine years with UPS and his legs don’t look a day over 30. But even more important, Acosta loves the kudos he gets for running a tight route.
“All my customers know what time I’ll be there,” he boasts. “They can pretty much set their clocks by me.”
But while Acosta has been good for Montclair, the Village has been good to him, too.
“I’ve gotten to know hundreds of wonderful people,” he says, adding some are a little difficult but most are just great.
“I remember one lady — she was crabby to me and I finally just confronted her with it,” he recalls. He asked her why she didn’t break out a smile once in a while. After that, she laughed whenever she saw him and the friendship evolved into something so sweet, Acosta sent her flowers when she retired.
The word “respect” is used a lot these days, but for Acosta it means more than the title of a ’60s Aretha Franklin song.
“My dad is gone now but he left me with something huge,” Acosta says. “He showed me how to earn respect.”
And the lessons he learned have been paid forward.
“Dad, you know everybody,” said his youngest son when Acosta took the boys around Montclair. He introduced them to customers and made sure they shook hands.
A smile and a handshake are just two of the “special deliveries” we get from Acosta each day.
And I’ll sign on the dotted line for that anytime.

EMAIL BAG: The feathers have been flying since last week’s item on wild turkeys. Readers say they’ve been spotting the gobblers all over the hills, and they range from shy to a little dangerous. But reader Liz Taylor says Tom turkeys should be given a wide berth, especially in spring when they are defending the hens and going through their mating ritual.

“The gobbler will give plenty of body language warning before resorting to delivery of a kick or wing beating to whomever or whatever is perceived as a threat to the hens,” she writes. A wing beating? I’ll have mine with a side of garlic mashed potatoes.

SPRING FLING: There’s finally a reason to celebrate tax day, April 15. It’s the day of the big Botanic Garden sale in Tilden Park. This 10-acre garden will wow you with its large variety of native plants — virtually every species found in California. You can take home shrubs, ferns and trees, and know that they’ll grow just fine in your own yard. Proceeds help keep the garden open to the public year round at no charge. For more information, call 841-8732.

HEAVEN CENTS: Thanks to local Realtor Tiffany Stechschulte for telling me about her friend’s organization Good Cents For Oakland. Dagmar Serota came up with the idea a few years ago to collect pennies for worthy causes. There are two penny roundups in April — the fifth-graders at Emerson Elementary School are collecting coins for an after-school program called Sports4kids and Hillcrest Elementary School first-graders are donating their pennies to Hopalong Animal Rescue.

“We’ll have armored cars come pick up the coins from both schools,” Serota says. Way to go, kids!

BASH BROTHERS: Talk about a power shot. A hills dad and his 21-year-old son were playing ball at Montclair Park recently when the son hit the ball over the fence and into the windshield of a very expensive foreign sports car. Apparently, the driver wasn’t impressed and threatened to sue the father and son. No word on whether the son also was offered a contract with the Oakland A’s.

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