It's an old story -- the postman getting bitten by a dog.
But to hear Terry Cunningham, a 28-year letter carrier for the Greencastle Post Office, tell it, dogs aren't the only animals of which he and his colleagues should beware.
Cunningham pounded on the door and tried to shake the bird off of him. The patrons weren't home, but he eventually managed to escape the surly parrot.
"When they bite, they twist," he said. "I got a heck of a bruise."
After Saturday, Cunningham won't have to worry about aggressive dogs or birds anymore. After nearly three decades, he is retiring from the U.S. Postal Service.
Cunningham began working for the Greencastle Post Office on June 30, 1980, when he was 24 years old. He'd never really thought about becoming a letter carrier, but was encouraged by his mother to look into it.
"I was working at the Double Decker as a fry cook," he said. "My mom saw an ad in the paper for postal workers and said, 'You need to go take this test.'"
So, when he was 18, Cunningham took the necessary exam.
"It was several years before I even heard from them," he said.
Cunningham went in for an interview, but didn't get the postal job. He took a job at Greencastle Manufacturing, and married his wife Pam on Oct. 25, 1979.
In the spring of 1980, Cunningham was laid off from Greencastle Manufacturing -- and about a week later the postal service came calling again.
This time, he was hired.
"I was a sub for about four years," he said. "Then I had to work my way up. I was a swing man for about a year and a half, then I got City 3, which is the route I'm on now."
That route includes areas of Bloomington Street as well as the DePauw University campus. Cunningham walks 11 miles of the route and drives the other 11. He has always enjoyed his job.
"I like the people," Cunningham said. "I used to like being outside in the summer ... the winters always kind of got to me, but now the heat gets to me too."
The people Cunningham work with like him back.
"He never makes trouble, he never causes trouble," said Jeff Adams, the Greencastle Post Office postmaster. "He's dependable. He's always cheerful and courteous. The customers love him ... he never gets complaints. He'll be sorely missed."
Adams called Cunningham the post office's "resident music historian."
"If it's anything about music, Terry knows it," he said.
Cunningham said he will miss the people whose mail he has delivered.
"When I was younger, I thought this was the best job anyone could possibly have," he said. "I made a pretty decent wage. I got to be outside. People gave me drinks and stuff to eat."
Cunningham celebrated his 53rd birthday on Jan. 25. He and his wife -- the parents of Jeff, 28, Joy, 26, and Josh, 24 -- now live in the Mount Meridian Area.
"We've been here for about four years, but before that we pretty much always lived in town," Cunningham said. "We've lived on Ohio Street, Jackson Street and Avenue E."
So what does Cunningham plan to do with his free time once he's retired?
"Well, there's that famous line about spending time with my family," he said. "But the truth is, I don't have any real plans."
A chuckling Pam interjected.
"He plans to drive his wife crazy," she said.
In the spring, Cunningham says, he may try to find another job -- one "that's not quite so physical."
Cunningham injured his back and leg about a month ago while lifting firewood at home. He was off work for two-and-a-half weeks.
"It's getting really hard for me to get my route done," he admitted. "When I started I was the fastest guy ... I could get my route done in no time. Now I'm the last one in. You gotta know when it's time to go, and it's time to go."
Cunningham's parting words were for his patrons.
"I just really want to thank them all," he said. "I've met an awful lot of really nice people."