Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mailing It In

     After I got home from dinner tonight I went next door to collect my neighbors mail and newspaper for them.  They asked me to while they are out of town on a cruise.  Since they are tremendously nice people, and treat me almost like a grandson, and they do tons of nice things for me, I was happy to oblige.  I mean, it's the least that I can do.  The only things I don't like are that they get a ton of mail and papers, and that we will have to have an argument when they get home and try to pay me and I refuse and protest.  But anyway, after picking up their mail and papers I went over to get mine and I saw some mail wedged into the little newspaper hooks that hang off the bottom of my mailbox.  Suddenly I was struck with a disastrous thought...my mailman probably hates me.
     Well at least right now.  See, as far as I see it we have what one would call a love/hate relationship.  In the end, it just turned out to be an envelope that was too big to fit in my tiny little apartment-sized mailbox, but I thought it was mail that was put there because my mailbox was full.  See, one of the reasons I think he hates me is because I am terrible, absolutely terrible about getting my mail.  And there is really no excuse for it.  So for me to see mail stuffed in the newspaper hooks immediately led me to think that the mailbox was full and he just wedged it there to let it sit outside through the two days of blizzard that we just had and get soaked and teach me a lesson.  And that, honestly, would have been just fine.  Had he decided to teach me a lesson I certainly would have deserved it.  I am seriously so bad about picking up my mail that sometimes it takes me days to get it.  See, my mailbox is not located near the door to my apartment (which is around the back of a house), nor is it on m path from my car to my door (my car parks behind the house too, right at the foot of my stairs).  So I don't pass it on my way anywhere and I often am too forgetful or too lazy to go get it.  In the summer I actually park my car on the street sometimes just so I have to walk past my mailbox and get my mail.  But I lose that option once the winter parking ban goes into effect in the fall.  So in the winter I take the time to shovel a parking spot out of the vacant lot next door, so I can park there and have to pass the mailbox.  That is the only way that I remember to get my mail.  How pathetic is that?  That is the biggest reason that I think he hates me.
     But sometimes I think he might love me too.  Because I feel bad for the mailman.  My apartment is on a foot route, so my mailman (or letter carrier if you are politically correct, but I say f@&* that, he's my mailman) has to tromp up and down street after street lugging a heavy mailbag filled with useless crap in all sorts of awful and inclement weather.  So I try to make his life easier for him.  In the winter I make a concerted effort to make our unused front walk clear and ice free.  I leave him a nice thank you card every once in a while.  I put my outgoing letters in street corner mailboxes, or I take it right to the post office, so he doesn't have to lug it around so much.  I smile, wave, and give a friendly hello when I happen to see him.  I say thank you.  Because I desperately want him to like me, and I don't know why.  Mostly because I think he hates me in the end.
     Really though, I shouldn't get too worked up over it, since I have the same feelings of love and hate towards him.  I love him because he brings me good things like Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, or my yearly REI statement and dividend check.  He also brings me cards and letters, or the occasional package.  During the winter, I admire the size of his boot prints, and how he just plows through snowdrifts to get from door to door.  I envy the little right-hand drive trucks they have.  I am sad that they don't have the Jeeps anymore.  So at times I love him.  But also at times I hate him.  He brings me bills.  Lots of them.  And I know that it's not his fault.  This is the most literal case of "don't kill the messenger."  That's like blaming the gas station attendant for the price of glass.  Or blaming the guy who bags your groceries because the box of graham crackers you dropped six times on the floor on the way to the checkout was filled with broken crackers.  It's not his fault.  But I hate the mailman anyway because usually the mailbox contains bad news.  I also hate him because when I take all that time to clear the walk he still sometimes uses his giant moon boots to walk across the yard.  Sometimes I pile tons of snow on either side of the walk to try to encourage him to use it.  Which is probably another reason he hates me.
     So I am pretty sure that he hates me.  And it makes me sad.  But I an consoled by the fact that he might love me on occasion.  And the fact that he probably only thinks about how much he hates me for the few seconds of the day as he walks up to and away from my house.  But still, I want him to feel happy about stopping here, or at least not pissed off.  Because I know what it's like.  I know how crazy it must drive them that the mail NEVER STOPS.  I work in an industry where the customer NEVER GOES AWAY.  And I've snapped.  So I fully expect him to snap on me someday.  I fully expect to walk out and find my mail lying in a pool of water.  Maybe every letter will be torn in half.  Or maybe he will just give it out to everyone else.  One letter of mine to each house on the street.  Maybe he will just write return to sender on every letter and then he doesn't have to deal with me.  Who knows.  But I want him to like me so when the day comes it will not be so bad.  Now that the summer is slowly filtering in and the parking ban is lifting, I can park on the street and remember to get my mail.  Now that I will be outside more maybe I will be wandering by the mailbox more often and I can build up some good credit before fall sets in and things go to pot again.  Who knows?  But I do know one thing.  I've got to shape up or I will have to get a post office box.  And then the guys who work at the post office can hate me instead.  At least they don't come to my house every day.

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