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Episode 40: The Matt and Jeramie Show – Getting to Know the District’s Mail Delivery “Dynamic Duo”

They drive to each and every Jordan School District school and department each and every day, delivering mail and so much more. Matt Gardner and Jeramie Velarde have been on the job for a combination of 46 years. In that time, they have earned a reputation for “people first” and putting a smile on the faces of everyone they encounter. On this episode of the Supercast, we find out what drives Matt and Jeremy and uncover some well-kept secrets about the District’s “Dynamic Duo.”

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<h2>Audio Transcription</h2>

Superintendent:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Superintendent. They are Jordans school district's mail delivery dynamic duo. We're talking about Matt Gardner and Jeremy Velarde who have been on the job for a total of 46 years. They have a reputation for delivering a lot of laughter and Goodwill as they travel the entire district every day, making sure a massive amount of mail arrives to its intended destination. On time today, we find out what really drives men and Jeremy, and we uncover some of their relatively well kept secrets. We call this episode, the Matt and Jeremy show. Now Matt, in addition to being one of the most positive people I know is one of the employees at the auxiliary services building who helps deliver the mail throughout the district. What's your official title, Matt,

Matt Gardner:
On my name badge. It says drivers driver. All right. Pretty efficient

Superintendent:
Would go with driver because I know that's what you love to do actually. Isn't it, Matt?

Matt Gardner:
Yes. Yes. What drives you? Mad? people. I love people.

Superintendent:
Yes. Yes you do. Do you ever not smile? Let me ask you that first off.

Matt Gardner:
No, it was kind of a bad habit. So when I should be in trouble,

Superintendent:
There's a, there's a reason we have used map for so many of our customer service presentations and videos over the years, Matt, like I said is one of the most positive people you'll meet. Matt. How long have you worked for the district?

Matt Gardner:
23 years. April 1st? Yeah. I don't know if that was an omen for me or you guys that I got hired on April fool's day, but what

Superintendent:
Was your first job with Jordan school? District

Matt Gardner:
Driver driver worked in the warehouse for the first 10 years. Yeah.

Superintendent:
And as you're, as you're driving around now as a warehouse driver, you were delivering and now you deliver mail and small packages is that right?

Matt Gardner:
Whatever they put on my van, I deliver. So it's yeah. Packages or envelopes, whatever, whatever they need for the day. So, yeah.

Superintendent:
And you share routes with Jeremy Velarde. Is that correct? That is correct. Yes. And Jeremy's been at it for a while as well, has he not?

Matt Gardner:
Yeah. I think he's been in with the district for 20 or 21 years, so, and we've worked pretty much hand in hand together for all that time. So yeah.

Superintendent:
Now do you, do you each go describe, describe your route. Describe a typical day for Matt Gardner.

Matt Gardner:
I get up at five 15 in the morning, comb my hair.

Superintendent:
If you knew Matt you'll know that combing the hair does not take very long. Yeah,

Matt Gardner:
No, not very long. We get to work about six o'clock in the morning, a little before six, we load our vehicles with the schools that we have. There's two routes for the school district. One pretty much encompasses daybreak and all of West Jordan and the other one takes over the rest of South Jordan Herrmann bluff Del Riverton area. And then we just kind of divide and conquer and go out there and try to make everybody happy and spread a little bit of sunshine while we're delivering our, you know, all the mail.

Superintendent:
How long does it take you to visit every school? Is it over a couple of days you ended up visiting every building or a couple of times a week.

Matt Gardner:
We go to every school every single day and delivered to the district office twice a day. So we're seeing and making contact with every school every day.

Superintendent:
I'm very envious of that actually, because I would love to be able to visit schools a lot more than I'm able to, especially more than I've been able to lately. What do you find when you visit schools? What do you see? I'll bet you learn a lot about a school even from dropping in for a moment. Just what their day is like and how things are going.

Matt Gardner:
Well, you get to know the personality of the office staff. You sometimes get to know the person out personality of the school and just, I mean, you can tell from the principals down how something's ran, just the enthusiasm or the way that they go about things and each individual school, because they are individual things, as far as it goes, every one of them is a little bit different and you can kind of tell. And as, as the school district boost principals from place to place, sometimes that same culture or the, the way that the school is changes with the principal. So you can see that it is kind of a top-down

Superintendent:
Situation sometimes that's fascinating. So even the, the short amount of time that you spend in a school, you can tell, Oh, this principal's here now. And now this school feels like their previous school. Yes.

Matt Gardner:
Yeah. It happens quite a bit.

Superintendent:
What do you learn from visiting schools about how to treat people? Well, I guess

Matt Gardner:
That I've, I've learned that being enthusiastic and positive and treating everybody with the utmost respect. And that includes every kid that walks in the doors is a friend, everybody that I come in contact with, whether it's a custodial staff, office, staff, teachers, administrators you know the, the lunch managers have lunch workers. Everybody, you know, is somebody that needs to, I think, I guess be inspired a little bit. That is kind of how I look at it. I look at as delivering the mail is the simple part of the job. The part that takes the effort, the part that has to have the thought put into it is how I treat people and how kind, you know, you are to others and, and, and some aspects. I know it sounds maybe a little bit corny, but showing them love

Superintendent:
It doesn't sound corny at all. I've seen you do it. I've seen you do it many times. And sometimes it's in the form of just listening. I have walked by and seen you just listening to people and it's, you're, you're becoming a really important part of their day.

Matt Gardner:
Yeah. And, and that's kind of by design. I think I was taught, I guess with my family. I came from a family of eight kids, so we all had to learn to listen. We all also had to learn to be loud and talk a lot also if you wanted to be her, but she did learn from an early age that you could make an impact on others just by your daily actions.

Superintendent:
Well, you're certainly the epitome of that. You I really cannot overstate how positive and friendly you are. And, you know, sometimes when you see someone you kind of calculate was I, you know, or I do, was I supposed to call that person? Or what do we need to talk about? And when I see Matt, it's just, I get to see Mac and it's, you know, it's going to be positive every time.

Matt Gardner:
Well then I guess I'm doing my job well,

Superintendent:
And you are, you are doing your job. What I think is remarkable is that you drive all day and you deal with traffic and where people can be at their worst. And yet you maintain that positivity.

Matt Gardner:
Yeah. Well, I've gotten used to people trying to run me off the roads, so,

Superintendent:
Okay. So I have to ask you then, because you're driving around all day, what are some tips that you've learned along the way as well?

Matt Gardner:
Our time schedule, how I do my route is based upon when parents are showing up to schools, what time schools are getting in. If it's an elementary school, the middle school, everything that I do is totally calculated upon start and start, stop times for schools so that I'm not there when they get there so that it doesn't clog anything up or make it more difficult for them or me. So I can usually tell you where I'm out within two to three minutes of any school that is on my route.

Superintendent:
That makes sense. So you, you know, your environment, you know, what else is going to be going on? And you adapt.

Matt Gardner:
We add a new school into the school district. I usually go out and I say, okay, it's going to be between this school and that school. And then I'll calculate how long it takes me to get from one destination to the next, and then try it from different areas to see if it's going to be more efficient

Superintendent:
When you're out and about. And you're visiting every school every day. And you're driving throughout the Valley. You must run into some interesting things going on or some surprising things that I don't see as I'm in my office or in schools, Cal tell us about some of the things you run into. Well, we have

Matt Gardner:
A lot of things that happen, probably the strangest thing. Actually, I got quite a kick out of it. I was actually at a stoplight and I looked over and there was a lady parked next to me and I see underneath their shirt, all these things start moving around and all of a sudden out popped out the top of her collar of a shirt, a ferret, a ferry, a ferret, and then another one popped out. And another one, by the time it was all said and done, there was three of them sitting there popped out of the collar, this lady shirts.

Superintendent:
And this is, this is all during the time you're sitting at a stoplight.

Matt Gardner:
Yes, yes. Yeah. So that was probably the strangest thing that made my day. That's been 10 years ago. And it's still a wonderful story.

Superintendent:
Have you ever had the chance to help anybody in distress along the way?

Matt Gardner:
Well, I, well, there's this? Yes. the one time there was a kid that was stuck in the mud on Valentine's day, years back. And I had,

Superintendent:
I think stuck in the mud on Valentine's day is my biography and the Godfrey stuck into my on Valentine's day.

Matt Gardner:
Yeah. The, this little kid was stuck out there. So I pulled over off to the side of the road and just started walking out into the mud and gathered him up and pulled him out. And he had his little sack of Valentines that he was just trying to get to a school. And it was my discrete was the school. And he'd been out there for quite a while and he was upset and crying. So we got into the school and you know, got him safe as far as things go. So

Superintendent:
Then he was stuck in the mud.

Matt Gardner:
Yeah. He was stuck up to his knees in the mud, standing out in the middle of a field cause he had missed a school bus. And so we started

Superintendent:
It's cool because it's Valentine's day and you've got to exchange Valentine.

Matt Gardner:
Yes, exactly. And how,

Superintendent:
Okay, so you rescued him out of the mud. How deep did you get down into the mud?

Matt Gardner:
Tell about to my knees also. So I spent the rest of the day cleaning the vehicle afterwards.

Superintendent:
Wow. This is, this is some Scooby doo level quicksand that you guys climbed into because normally, normally I don't think mud is that powerful, but that's that

Matt Gardner:
They were fairly nasty. So it was really just graded a field. So

Superintendent:
Did, did the Valentines suffer any damage?

Matt Gardner:
I don't think so. They were wrapped up in a Smith sack, so it was good to go. He had, again, the grocery sack wrapped around mud caked on the bottom of them. So hopefully the kids got them at school.

Superintendent:
Wow. Well, that's, that's a different kind of Valentine's day story. What are some of your hobbies when you're not driving for Jordan district? What are some of the things that you like to do? Man?

Matt Gardner:
I like to do photography. I like to cook and I love to do yard work.

Superintendent:
I've heard that. And this is a little bit ironic that as someone who travels for a living, you also love to travel. Is that right? Yes. I do love to travel.

Matt Gardner:
They're going across the country multiple times. And I've visited probably all four corners of the country. I've gone to Scotland. I've been to Rome and I've been to a little town in Belgium called Bruce. I love Bruce, Bruce just phenomenal.

Superintendent:
So you're a photographer as well. That's a good combo, traveling photography. Do you, what, what do you photograph landscapes? How do you w what, what do you like to do?

Matt Gardner:
When I'm traveling, I like to actually do documentary style photography. So some of it is just everyday people doing everyday events, weather over there, just to it's of like, kind of like a street photography. But then I also do the basic pictures of landscapes or the structures of the buildings are architect. Why I'm over there. But I like to try to bring back to me, a picture is better with somebody in it. If it creates what the scene actually is versus trying to make it so pretty that it just looks like, you know, I bought it off of a postcard.

Superintendent:
Why did you take pictures with people in it does not surprise me coming from you because you care so much about people. And that really is your literal focus. Let's play two truths and a lie. You tell me two truths about you. One lie in any order, and I'll try to figure out which is the line. Now we've learned a lot about you, but let's see what else we can learn.

Matt Gardner:
Hmm.

Superintendent:
We're doing this because we're socially distanced. I don't have the benefit of reading body language on the lie. So let's see how I do remotely.

Matt Gardner:
Oh, Holy cow. I'm trying to think of a lie. I'm not good at it.

Superintendent:
Everything about you is true, man.

Matt Gardner:
Well, it's not an outright. Just let's see. I've gone through the police Academy. Okay. I was a dancer in high school and I suck at this.

Superintendent:
No, that's the third truth.

Matt Gardner:
I don't know.

Superintendent:
The third one's the lie.

Matt Gardner:
I dislike my job.

Superintendent:
You know what? I like that. You're not a good liar, man. And I actually remembered one of the times I was talking with you. We talked about your dancing. You were not only a dancer in high school, but a break dancer. If I'm not mistake,

Matt Gardner:
Did a little break dancing, jazz and ballet. Yes. That is impressive.

Superintendent:
That is impressive. Did you lay down the cardboard so you could spin? Well, we, no, I wasn't that level of stuff. That was, that was somebody else that we work with that did that type of stuff, so. Okay. All right. We'll talk more about that, Matt. Like always it is a delight. It's a bright spot in the day to get a chance to talk with you. I appreciate you. Thank you, Dr. Carl Godrey. Thank you. We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, the other half of our mail delivery dynamic duo, Jeremy Velarde joins us.

Steven Hall:
I'm Steven Hall, director of Jordan education foundation in today's challenging and uncertain times. It is more important than ever before to support one another here at the Jordan education foundation, we invite you to join us in making sure children are not going hungry. Your $10 donation to the foundation will help us feed one student for a weekend. When food and meals may be very scarce for some, with food and hygiene supplies in the principal's pantries at Jordan school districts being depleted and in higher demand than ever before. Every financial contribution made will help us to keep the pantries filled for students who would otherwise go without the Jordan education foundation exists due to the generosity of people who care about kids. If you would like to donate to help children from going hungry, please visit Jordan education, foundation.org, or contact the foundation at (801) 567-8125. Thank you. Together. We can make a difference.

Superintendent:
We are here with Jeremy Velarde and I have been friends with Jeremy for how long is it now? Since the 19 hundreds? Jeremy?

Jeramie Velarde:
Yeah. 30 something years, right?

Superintendent:
Yeah, that's about right. That's about right. So how long have you worked for Jordan school district?

Jeramie Velarde:
I believe I'm on my 22nd year.

Superintendent:
And how did you start?

Jeramie Velarde:
I started in the warehouse. My, my dad was custodian with you, right. And then West Hills. And he told me to apply and I applied, I got hired on at the warehouse. We moved over to the mail room and that's where I've stayed. Ever since

Superintendent:
Your dad is awesome. We worked together at being a middle school and that the building has now been torn down, but I was there late at night working a lot because I was a first year teacher and that place was pretty scary. I remember talking to him once and I said, how do you possibly work here by yourself? Didn't he work graveyard? He did. Yeah. I asked him, how can you possibly work in this? I loved the building, but after everyone was gone, it was creepy. He worked here all night. He said, I just put my headphones on. So I don't hear all the noises. Don't you started as a driver for the warehouse. And did you and Matt started about the same time?

Jeramie Velarde:
I think he was one or two. I think he was two years. He started it two years before I did.

Superintendent:
Yeah. His name tax driver. What is your name tag say? It says other driver as you travel around schools. Honestly, it is one of the best things I love that I still get to run into you 30 years later. What, what is it like traveling to every school every day?

Jeramie Velarde:
It's great. I love the interactions with the staff and, you know, getting to know people on a, on a long-term basis, you know, and I obviously love it cause I haven't gone anywhere else in a couple decades. You know,

Superintendent:
What differences do you observe as you go from school to school? Does it have its own kind of personality and feel?

Jeramie Velarde:
Oh, definitely. Definitely. Yeah. There's some offices with a little more personality or some offices you could joke around a little bit more. Yeah, there's, there's definitely different fields of different places in schools, but for the most part they're all

Superintendent:
Now, do you have a very specific way that you get to each of the schools? Do you have just a set pattern or do you mix it up? I I'm terrible with directions. I think I would be awful. I, it would take me twice as long as you guys to get this done because I always think there's another way to get there.

Jeramie Velarde:
For the most part, we stick to the same, but it's, it's autopilot, this, this blame we've been doing it for so long, but, but with, you know, different schools popping up and stuff Matt really likes to figure out like the quickest way to do things and the most effective. So, so he's really good at like figuring out the best way to do it. But yeah, we pretty much stick to the same. Right.

Superintendent:
But there are some pretty weird things. People have asked you to deliver domain names.

Jeramie Velarde:
I won't name names, but yes, years ago before the split, there was a, there was this dead fish that was going back and forth in the, in the mail. And some people got, I'll tell you off air.

Superintendent:
Okay. You tell me later who it was, how many people were involved.

Jeramie Velarde:
Oh, there was a, let's see, I think four principals at the time and then just staff. So yeah, I've had people steal my van I've I've had people put honey all over my steering wheel. Do you ever find the culprit? I did Sherry Beckstead. She used to work at Jordan Hills elementary.

Superintendent:
Did she want everything that was supposed to be delivered to her to be lost for the next 10 years?

Jeramie Velarde:
I got her back. I put a frozen burrito in her plan. This was early two thousands. So this was a while back. I think the dead fish is what put a stop to all those pranks, but there for awhile there, it got a little crazy.

Superintendent:
The dead fish become a problem. Was there an official decree about dead fish and other pranks?

Jeramie Velarde:
There was, yes. I think there was a dead fish memo floating her there at some point,

Superintendent:
Jeremy, Jeremy, you have even more stories than I thought. So we are going to lunch. As soon as the Corona virus breaks. I gotta get, I gotta get some more details on this. And now your van was stolen. You said, who stole your van?

Jeramie Velarde:
They've moved. It it's happened a couple times. You know, it's in the parking lot and you know, somebody just gets in there and moves it out of the way. So I come out and my vans

Superintendent:
I've, I've had I've had some interesting things delivered. You've dropped off some prank gifts for me. Nothing like it, dead fish. And then some anonymous things, you know, people have been very crafty about using it, a new envelope and you know, so I've gotten some I've, I've received some nice things over the years, but

Jeramie Velarde:
That's the thing I don't even know I'm delivering pranks most of the time, you know? So it's always a surprise to me to know

Superintendent:
The dead fish was probably pretty obvious. You guys are a big part of what makes Jordan such a great place to work because it just feels good to see you. And it's nice to have the routine and you just connect everybody. And it's obvious that you care about the people that you're, that you're visiting. And I see a lot of times I said this to Matt too. I see a lot of times where people are engaged in a pretty big conversation with you because you're a great listening area, you know, just, they know they're going to see you there. Now they're going to be able to catch up with you.

Jeramie Velarde:
Yeah. Yep. But that's been the nice thing too is, you know, when I, since, since I've worked there, you know, I've had a lot of trials in my life as well. And you know, if I didn't have positive coworkers like that, I don't know what I would've done. And it's been, it's been a blessing for me as well to just have, you know, so, so many positive people in my life and, you know,

Superintendent:
Talk about your hobbies. Okay. You have a ton going on in your life. Tell us tell us about some of the things I know, but the listeners don't know.

Jeramie Velarde:
Well I'm a dad, so that's, that's that keeps me busy. I'm a student I'm working on my bachelor's in education. I'm a painter. Oh, by the way. And I, I play music and I try to stay active with exercise and things like that too. So

Superintendent:
What so you play the guitar,

Jeramie Velarde:
Huh? Guitar, ukulele, and sing.

Superintendent:
And are you a member of a band currently?

Jeramie Velarde:
Not

Superintendent:
Some of the bands. What are some of the bands you've been part of over the years?

Jeramie Velarde:
I was in a punk band called the underachievers. I was in a metal band, a rap metal band called blindfold eight Oh one. And I was in a folk band called has-been and another fault band called Copperton Park.

Superintendent:
I remember Copperton Park and blindfold data one. Yeah. Blindfold data. One was in the era when I, when I first knew you, it wasn't, it wasn't that kind of mid nineties.

Jeramie Velarde:
Yes. Yes.

Superintendent:
And what was the other one? The has-beens

Jeramie Velarde:
[Inaudible] okay.

Superintendent:
You, you kind of, don't have to say that has bins was a folk band. You kind of know if their name that has fans are kind of going to be a folk band, but you, you have very eclectic taste to tell it, tell us about some of the things that you listened to. I love to see your posts. There was one post where you asked me where you kind of posted to a group of people. What are your five year? I think it was your five favorite Beatles songs. And I probably spent like four hours thinking about which songs to post.

Jeramie Velarde:
Oh, I did too. So I've got a new, I w I've got a new one for you, and I'm still thinking about it, but it's to to create your own white album, but only using Beatles solo stuff. So if it's a John song on the white album, you have to pick a John song from the solo album. Does that make sense? Yes. Yes. So I, I'm trying to figure out my perfect solo solo white album. Wow. I'll have to post mine and then tag you in it or something.

Superintendent:
Yeah. Tag me when you post that, that's a delicious quandary. You get to know some of the kids because they're an aide in the office during a certain hour and you tend to be there at the same time.

Jeramie Velarde:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You see a lot of the same, same kids and stuff. And you know, sometimes it's the naughty ones, but you know, I have a soft spot for them.

Superintendent:
Oh, Hey, you're in the office again. All right.

Jeramie Velarde:
Like, Hey, I was that way too. So I don't know anything that really sticks out. I mean, probably the thing most is beaten. My wife, I met Stacy when she was working in HR and we formed a friendship and eventually she asked me on a day and I eventually said yes. And it just worked out from then on. And now we're now we blended the four kids together and it's been, it's been awesome and the best, but flipping canoes over or

Superintendent:
Jeremy, it's been great talking to you. You're awesome. You're a great friend. You're a great person. And I'm so glad to still be in touch and still know you after all these decades. So take care out there and we'll talk to you soon.

Jeramie Velarde:
All right. Thank you so much.

Superintendent:
A big thank you to Matt and Jeremy for being on the show today and for everything they do for Jordan school district, it was great. Having a chance to talk with them, whether you're driving around the district or just listening at home. Remember education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see. [inaudible].

 

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