He's done Montclair's heavy lifting since 1986. UPS driver Jeff Acosta is retiring at the end of October after 28 years of delivering packages to Montclair Village merchants and residents.

Think of it. When Acosta first started his route, the Icehouse was still the go-to spot for a burger and shake. And the Equinox was the hot spot for dancing. He's seen children grow up and have kids of their own in Montclair ... and he's raised a family as well.

"This village has seen me through tough times and has seen me through my good times," says Acosta, who has faced divorce and the loss of his second wife to cancer. "Both times, this village helped me through this. I always found a laugh here."

To see Acosta, he looks too young to retire. Trim, tan and sporting his brown shirt and shorts, he makes deliveries look easy. But the physical job takes its toll.

"The work in the last couple of years has been hard because the industry has changed a lot," he says. Still, he admits the last days are going to be tough.

"It's starting to get a little scary for me only because for the last 35 years, all I know is about UPS."

Next time you see the brown truck in the Village, give the driver a wave and a smile. Oh ... and you might want to wish him happy holidays.

"I just want to enjoy Christmas for the first time in years," says Acosta, who must be just short of Santa in the number of gifts he's delivered. That alone deserves a thank-you from all of us.


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Email bag: When are jaywalkers more like sleepwalkers? When they cross the street illegally -- eyes glued to their cell phones. This dangerous behavior is well-documented in Montclair Village and reader Una Evensen says the scofflaws include "adults with children, and those who choose to jaywalk four feet from a crosswalk." She wants me to remind pedestrians and drivers to please be careful.

Now and then: Old-timers know how much Oakland has changed. So does young artist Chelsea Wurms, who grew up in Montclair and recently returned from college to organize a photo exhibit that documents Oakland's transformation. Her multimedia show focuses on the change in the West Oakland and Lake Merritt Station areas -- two of the city's oldest neighborhoods. Check out "Pieces of Oakland" at Warehouse 416 (416 26th St.) through Sept. 27.

Animal tales: Who's running with the big dogs these days? Little dogs, according to the folks at Oakland Animal Services. Cashing in on the trend, The shelter is hosting "Chi Mania" from 12 to 4 p.m. Saturday. There'll be refreshments and fun for humans and the dozens of Chihuahuas -- pure and mixed -- up for adoption. You can pick up little guys like Midnight, who loves a good belly rub, for the reduced price of $35.

You can reach Ginny Prior at ginnyprior@hotmail.com. or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.