Meet Aubrey Dowridge, The USPS Mail Carrier Who Eats One Meal a Day
Name: Aubrey Dowridge
Location: Rockaway, Queens (New York)
How many people regularly eat together in your home? I live with my wife and two daughters (10, 7).
Avoidances: We try not to cook any thing too cheesy or fatty or greasy. If we do it’s once in a while. Like baked macaroni and cheese during summer barbecues or around the holidays.
We first met USPS mail carrier Aubrey Dowridge when lifestyle site Man Repeller featured his postal service uniform fashion style. After checking out the way he dresses, we were so curious to find out what he eats too. What does a USPS mail carrier eat to keep himself fueled and high-energy, especially in this holiday season?
It’s peak delivery season right now, which means mail carriers like Aubrey are working around the clock to make sure that holiday cards, decorations, and presents get to their destinations on time and in tip-top shape — all while simultaneously taking care of business as usual. (Where are Santa and the elves when you need them?)
We met up with Aubrey on his busy mail route (which happens to be right by our Manhattan HQ), to talk about his extra-early alarm, his passion for intermittent fasting, and the snack he should probably never eat again. Here’s how the coolest mailman on the block fuels up during the holiday busy season.
What’s a day in the life of a mail carrier like?
On a normal weekday, I wake up at 4 a.m. I take 45 minutes to get ready and get on the 4:44 or 4:48 train. The commute to the station is an hour and I get there around 6. By 9 a.m. I hit the street and, depending on volume, I can head back to the station, have some lunch, and go through Instagram. If I’m working a normal eight-hour day, I get out of here at 2:30. I’m loving the schedule because I get out of here at a decent time. During the holiday season, it gets busier so sometimes I can get home as late at 8:30 p.m.
What’s it like now that it’s peak package season?
The volume is a lot more. I deliver to a few residential buildings and that’s what typically kills me. Everybody is ordering gifts, decorations, clothes — all of it tends to get a little overwhelming. When that happens, I have to make a lot of trips back to the station to get everything. I don’t know if it’s going to be as bad as this year.
You have to wake up SO early. How do you fuel up for a shift?
You know, I used to be a coffee guy. My coworker introduced me to a cup with milk and sugar and I thought, this stuff isn’t so bad. I try to stay away from caffeine now, though. Waking up early is all about conditioning. I also take lots of naps, which help.
What do you do when you get hungry on your route?
I got hungry like five minutes ago! I was trying to hold out but instead I went to 7/11 and got a muffin and a Lipton hot tea. I try not to eat too much during my shift. I had a bad experience with a chicken and rice cart. So I don’t mess with that anymore.
Are there any snacks you always have in your truck just in case?
So I used to eat pistachios; I used to get a 24-ounce bag from Costco and then pour it into a gallon-sized zip-top bag and maybe eat about half of that throughout the day. The first time I noticed something strange was when I ate them every day for a week. My face started twitching, like the right corner of my mouth was jumping. I ran out of pistachios and the problem went away. Two weeks later, we bought more pistachios and the same thing started happening again, only really noticeable this time. Every now and then just to test this out, I eat some pistachios — and they’re definitely the issue.
Oh wow, stay away from them! What’s not off limits?
I’m simple, I don’t eat too much — but I do mess with plantain chips and those Keebler Elf Club crackers.
You only eat one meal a day! When did this start?
I should have clarified, it’s one LARGE meal. My decision to do this started when I began watching the show Naked and Afraid. Have you seen it? They go for three weeks, and eat about once or twice a week. So it got me thinking about when we were a hunter/gatherer society, when food wasn’t as plentiful as it is now. People didn’t have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I started thinking Why do we eat so much? We’re bombarded with images — especially when I’m walking down the street delivering mail— food is so commercialized.
So what’s your big meal of choice?
Dinner. I used to wake up and have a meal like most people would eat for dinner, then later on I’d have a small snack, and when I’d get home, I’d have a large meal again. I decided to switch to just eating one large meal when I got home.
Do you anticipate it all day long?
I do look forward to eating, but I’ve totally reprogramed the way I look at food. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to have three meals a day. While I’m at work, my wife cooks so we can eat when I get home.
- Biggest challenge in eating? Recently I’ve adopted the idea that one meal a day is more than enough. I don’t believe we have to eat as often as we do. The challenge was reprogramming how I looked at food.
- How much do you cook at home every week? Usually upwards of 90% of the meals we eat are cooked and prepared at home. Maybe once a week we’ll probably do takeout or fast food. That’s usually when we get too busy to cook.
- 5 things on your grocery list every week? Bread, water, meat (poultry, beef, shrimp), Phillips Crab Cakes, and salad kits.
- Where do you shop, primarily? Usually warehouse stores like Costco or BJs. It’s a way of life when you have a family and growing kids that eat more than the adults.
- Top 3 default dinners? Roasted chicken on rice with some sort of vegetable or salad, any type of stewed chicken dish, or any kind of pasta dish.
- Favorite drink? The only tea I mess with is Lipton decaffeinated.
- Best underrated snack? Plantain chips.
- Default kid snack? Welch’s Fruit Snacks.
- Most ingenious cooking tip anyone ever taught you? My wife taught me how to cook perfect rice: two parts water, one part rice. Bring to a boil, turn fire to low, and let it cook for 25 minutes.
- Most-loved kitchen tool? That would be tongs. Very handy tool.
- What’s the best cookie of all time? It’s a toss-up between the chocolate chip cookie from Jacques Torres or the macadamia macaroon cookie from the cookie house in Kong’s Plaza Brooklyn.
- Who does the dishes? Well it’s usually me, my wife, or my young daughter.
Lucky you! What are some things your family loves to eat?
I’m from Guyana, so I have this West Indian culture. My wife was born here but her parents are from Granada. We eat a lot of vegetables and rice. My wife makes fun of me because I eat so much rice — I could eat it every day and not have a problem. We have a lot of stewed or curried chicken, beef, pumpkin, butternut squash, okra, cabbage, eggplants, shrimp. Things like that.
So who goes grocery shopping for all the goods? And what else is usually on the list?
I usually do the shopping at Costco and BJs. We buy a lot of things in bulk because we’re trying to make the money make sense, you know?
We buy a lot of bottled water because we had an incident a few years ago where the water in the tap was coming out yellow. So now the girls don’t like to drink from the tap and I can’t knock them for it. I’ll still drink it, but I’m different. I grew up in Guyana where things weren’t exactly all peaches and cream. The standards that we have in this country are not the same there. It was more rugged, rough, whatever — I don’t know what the word is. I put up some opposition to the bottled water at first, but you can’t really argue with your wife!
We also buy a lot of juices to put in their little lunch bags. My wife loves her Phillips Crab Cakes. And we always stock up on vegetables, rice, and meat. That’s everything that we need!
Also, I wanted to mention that I never thought about how intimate or private eating was, until I started to answer these questions. It’s eye-opening how such a private thing is such a big part of our lives.
You’re so right! Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life with us, Aubrey.
Everyone: Follow him on Instagram.
The Way We Eat is a series of profiles and conversations with people like you about how they feed themselves and their families.We’re actively looking for people to feature in this series. You don’t have to be famous or even a good cook! We’re interested in people of all backgrounds and eating habits. How do you overcome challenges to feed yourself? If you’d like to share your own story with us, or if you know of someone you think would be great for this series, start here with this form.