Ladner leaves package pickup

Courtney Wittekind Jan 29, 2012

Students receiving packages to their SMC addresses last week may have noticed that their pickup notification came from an unfamiliar email address. Instead of the ladner@ address that students have come to expect, sabrown@ appeared in the “from” line.

The response that met the change was overwhelming. A “We Miss You, Ladner” Facebook group was set up, which gained over 250 likes in just a few days. Speculation regarding fraudulent emails and stories of epic mailroom mishaps almost immediately began circulating online. One of the stories, quoted on the “Overheard at Carnegie Mellon” Facebook group, questioned whether Ladner had ended up in “an epic fistfight with one of the mailroom robots who tried setting packages on fire.”

Mark Ladner, the man behind the email address students have become acquainted with, said it was not such an interesting story. Instead, Ladner has simply moved locations from the University Center’s mailroom to the loading dock at the Mellon Institute. “I’m looking forward to working at the Mellon Institute,” Ladner said. “I’m not going to miss the hard work [at the mailroom], but I will miss the students.... It’s rare that a person can have a job that makes a large number of people happy on a daily basis. I personally know what it’s like to order something and how happy it makes me when I know it’s delivered.”

Those deliveries, which number over 140,000 per year, have left Ladner with innumerable stories from the four-and-a-half years he has worked as the University Center mailroom student coordinator. “I have so many funny stories about package pickup ... from deliveries of live crickets to my first experience with kimchi,” he said. Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish that Ladner said gets delivered about every few weeks. Ladner said that he can identify the smell, even from among 500 other packages.

The strangest package Ladner ever received, however, was a 600-pound car transmission. “It arrived in a big wooden crate and was incredibly heavy. We sent the usual email to the student, and when he arrived, he looked at me and asked, ‘How do I get it back to my dorm?’... I would have loved to know what he did with it,” Ladner said.

In addition to stories, if the online response is any indication, Ladner has accumulated a group of students he has come to call friends. “Ladner is hands-down one of the most kindhearted and friendly people that I’ve had the chance to get to know here,” said fifth-year senior psychology and social and decision sciences double major Nicole Ickles. “His silly and bright attitude is contagious. Even on the dreariest days, he never failed to make me smile.”

“I’ve made so many friends along the way,” Ladner said. “I get emails every so often from former students that just want to keep in touch.” However, even Ladner was surprised by the student response to his departure from the mailroom. “I feel really blessed to have had a job where I could affect so many people,” Ladner said. “I tried to put myself in the students’ place and realize that for each package, there was someone waiting for it.”