LEWISTON — Two weeks ago, a driver on Pine Street almost broke Dan Holmgren's record.
The car pulled out of Bourque's Market and didn't see him. Holmgren, in his mail truck, slammed on the brakes.
Accident averted, streak intact.
Holmgren, a letter carrier, has achieved 40 years of accident-free driving on the job. In 2003, he joined the U.S. Postal Service's Million Mile club, a distinction for those who've either driven 1 million miles or gone 30 years without a preventable accident. It has 9,350 members nationwide.
Holmgren grins and sheepishly admits his personal driving record didn't get off to the best of starts.
"When I was 16, I managed to total the family car," said Holmgren, 64.
It was a country road, the car ahead of him stopped abruptly. To this day he thinks its brake lights were out.
Holmgren joined the Postal Service in 1970 in Illinois for a year after college.
"I went back to graduate school, (two years later) ran out of money and decided, 'I'll just go back to the post office and earn a little more money,'" he said. "Lo and behold, I ended up staying."
He spent the first 22 years of his career in Denver, Colo., drawn to that state by friends. When he decided to move, Holmgren looked north to ski country.
He found a letter carrier in Lewiston who wanted to move to Denver. In 1995, they swapped jobs.
Holmgren's route now is around Main Street, about 10 miles of driving and 3 miles of walking each day.
"The best part of my job is the people I get to know," he said. "That's the important part for me, becoming part of a neighborhood. People are really wonderful."
Behind the wheel, he's been careful to come to a full stop at stop signs. He stays alert, watches for brake lights and tries to anticipate what other drivers might do.
"There's a lot of good fortune involved," Holmgren said. "Sometimes, there's just circumstances you can't ever control. You really have to worry about what's going on around you."
Postmaster Jim Thornton said two other carriers in his post office on Ash Street are close to Million Miling it. It's not common, especially given the tricky Maine weather.
A club member receives a pin, a letter of recognition and a bonus.
Thornton credited all of his carriers with being careful on the road.
"They're always looking for what could happen, and sometimes it does and they're prepared," he said. "Dan's a great driver — knock on wood."
Holmgren gets behind the wheel of a 1994 Volvo station wagon with 290,000 miles in his off-work hours. He doesn't think about maintaining the streak for the streak's sake.
"The less I think about whether I'm going to have an accident or not, the better off I am," Holmgren said.