MARIETTA, Ga. — Friday was Floyd Martin's day to sleep in. He didn't.
After nearly 35 years of delivering the mail, the stroke of 5 a.m. pulled him out of bed, as always. It turned out to be a good thing. Friday was Floyd Martin's day to shine.
His heart was full when his head hit the pillow Thursday night. Neighbors in his Marietta, Georgia territory had decorated their mailboxes to surprise him on his last day. Then, hundreds gathered for a block party to celebrate his retirement.
“Continue to take care of each other,” he told the crowd, “and smile when you think of me."
A day later, it seemed the entire internet was smiling and thinking of him. “Mr. Floyd” became a trending topic after hundreds of thousands of people shared a Twitter thread telling his story.
Actor Patton Oswalt was among them:
As was actress Alyssa Milano:
And CNN’s Jake Tapper:
And NBC’s Willie Geist:
Neighbors launched a GoFundMe campaign hoping to raise $5,000 to help Martin realize his dream of vacationing in Hawaii. The campaign has raised more than $25,000, but Floyd can use those donations for other needs during his retirement. Delta Air Lines is taking care of the flight.
I called Floyd midmorning Friday to see how his first day off the clock was going.
"I haven't learned to sleep in yet," he said. "I'm still on such a high from yesterday."
Then I let him know about Delta, the celebrities tweeting about him, and the slew of reporters wanting to talk with him.
"What? Oh, my God," he said, stunned. "This is all unbelievable."
Channel 2 Action News was the first broadcaster to share Floyd's story. The AJC's corporate cousin aired a piece just hours after the Thursday night block party and followed up the next day with a second piece about the successful GoFundMe campaign.
By Friday morning, I'd heard from journalists at CNN, Fox News, The Washington Post, The Today Showthe "Today" show, ABC"ABCWorld News Tonight", Reuters, Inside"Inside Edition", People, Mother Jones and elsewhere, who were interested in pursuing stories. With his OK, I helped those who wanted to interview him get in touch.
CNN International has shared the story and CBC/Radio-Canada is working on one, as well.
Some outlets, likes MSNBC, the and "The Mel Robbins Show" pulled together quick pieces using my photos, with attribution, after requesting and receiving permission to do so, which is standard industry practice. Some, like Yahoo and The Week, posted aggregated pieces with content and photos embedded from the Twitter thread, which is also a common practice.
“I can’t believe all this is happening,” Martin said.
I can. Coverage of political rancor, international tension, natural disasters, violence and tragedy dominates just about any news cycle. People ache for a bit of good news once in a while.
"I'm not quite sure why but it's reduced me to some tears on my lunch break at work," Tom Adams, of Northampton, about 60 miles northwest of London, told me in a message. One of his countrymen checked in to let me know Floyd is all the talk across the pond:
Stateside, Floyd has people crying happy tears.
When I called Floyd later on Friday to see how the day was going, his phone went to voicemail; I hope he was either packing for Hawaii or getting ready for another nationally televised interview.
Regardless, we'll all see him again in October. Sooner than that, probably, but he's invited to be a celebrity costume judge at Marietta's annual Halloween parade.
“I’ll be back,” he has promised the people on his route, the customers who became family. “Y’all are my life.”
Cox Media Group