NORTH SALEM - Some people count sheep to sleep, North Salem (10560) postal employee Craig Frank counts zip codes.
When Frank started working for the postal service in 1988, mail was still sorted by hand. He became intrigued with some of the town names he encountered and started to absorb the zip code numbers. It became an obsession for him and a competition amongst his fellow workers.
Frank won, hands down. "I know more zip codes than 99 out of 100 postal workers," he said. "I know 2,850."
Zip codes are organized by geographic location. The lowest numbers -- those beginning with double zeroes -- are assigned to U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico. On the U.S. mainland the lowest numbers start in the northeast and get higher as you go westward. California and Hawaii zips begin with the number nine.
At least once a day Frank catches an incorrect zip. It can cause a long delay in delivery.
What is the most obscure zip he has memorized? Coeur d?Alene, Idaho. (83815)
Will he go on learning zip codes? Frank thinks not. "When I turned 50 I started forgetting them," he said.
Born in Sheepshead Bay (11223), Brooklyn, Frank now lives in Pawling (12564). He has worked at the North Salem post of?ce for almost 14 years. He laughs about his vast zip knowledge.
"Everybody likes to be good at something," he said. "That?s my claim to fame."
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