Saturday, November 13, 2010

Requiem for a Mailbox


Some Errant Driver (henceforth "Ed") was tooling around our neighborhood and had either (a) seen too many of those video's where they blow up old buildings in order to build a Wal-Mart (b) had a few too many Martini's at 2pm in the afternoon (c) was just a really bad driver.

Whichever it was, Ed was on a mission of destruction in his Toyota / Hyundai / Honda (the generic and characterless ToyHyunDa) that fateful Monday afternoon.


The mailbox is a standard bearer for a progressive society. A veritable harbinger of stability and order. The mailman will deliver and pick up mail six days a week in spite of sleet, snow, locusts, Godzilla, etc.

The US Postal Service is mighty particular about mailbox standards:

- Vertical height of between 41-45 inches from the road surface
- Boxes must also be on the right-hand side of the road
- Mailbox should be set back 6 to 8 inches from the front face of the curb
- Your mailbox needs to be approved by the Postal Service
- The name on your mailbox should be at least 1 inch high
- The moat around the mailbox shall be filled with piranha and sharp stakes in case Ed comes rumbling down your block

Clearly, a mailbox is not to be trifled with.

The mailboxes in our neighborhood are of the stout brick variety. They are enduring and hard to miss. They make great markers when playing in the street as in "run a hook pattern and turn at the mailbox", or "the mailbox is out of bounds".

I am sure when Ed woke up that epic Monday, mailbox reduction was not on his mind. Maybe he forgot to sport his glasses. Perhaps Ed had a bad experience as a child and was stuffed into a mailbox. It gets like a pizza oven in there in summer. Maybe his father was Newman and his home was filled with mountains of undelivered mail.

"Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There's never a letup, It's relentless. Every day it piles up more and more, but the more you get out, the more it keeps coming. And then the bar code reader breaks. And then it's Publisher's Clearinghouse day". - Newman.

Ed may have had some kind of post (office) traumatic flashback in our street.

We have all had incidents in the parking lot, backing into a stray shopping cart, a near miss with a Buick. It happens less frequently now because so many new cars have the backup sensors that alert you to trouble. Did Ed hear the beeping and think it meant "Go faster - Ramming speed!"?


So here's the dealio. It is 2pm on a Monday afternoon. The street deserted, spare for a few tumbleweeds. Temperature: around 70F, sun shining high in the sky. No glare. Road conditions: excellent. Visibility: miles.

You rumble down a suburban street. The scenery is not what one would call varied. House, driveway, mailbox. House, driveway, mailbox. We dig repetition. Suddenly, you realize you are not where you need to be. You could drive 100 yards and turn in the cul-de-sac without engaging Reverse gear. Or - and it is a mighty big OR - you could pull an Ed and opt for a moderately difficult three-point turn in the middle of the street.

Maybe Ed had one of those acceleration happy imports. Perhaps Ed has a Shaq size 20 left lead foot. Maybe Ed hates mailmen. Maybe Ed doesn't like Mondays. Or Bob Geldof. It could be that the ToyHyunDa did not have mirrors. Maybe Ed was listening to Symphony for Destruction (likely the Nine Inch Nails remix).


At 2pm on that tragic Monday, Ed slipped his late model sedan in reverse and with all the grace and subtlety of a ten-ton bulldozer, Ed demolished our mailbox. There was bang, a cloud of dust and that very bastion of civilization lay prone and mortally wounded on the grass. No more mail will grace what was once a proud fixture, now reduced to a sad pile of rubble. What took one undocumented migrant laborer hours to construct was annhilated in a split second by a ToyHyunDa wielding maniac.


No none panicked, called the cops or even Channel 9. Ed collected himself, parked the ToyHyunDa and rang the doorbell. He was aghast but also honest. Further description is unwarranted. Suffice to say, he is a man of courage and honor... and a horrible driver. His insurance co. ponied up $700.

The post office refused to deliver mail until the mailbox was repaired. My new best friend Jesus rebuilt the mailbox for $300. I helped him and felt like I was a hoddie from 1985. I used the $400 difference to buy a ticket to see the Rangers in the World Series.

We will not speak of the outcome, except that Timmy made the Rangers look like static mailboxes.

It is indeed an ill wind that blows no good...

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