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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Il(lin’) Postino

I think I’m in trouble with the mailman. That simply can’t be good.

I happened to run into our intrepid mail carrier a few days ago, as he was making his appointed rounds. I took our mail at the bottom of the considerable stairs and we chatted for a while. He thanked me for saving him the trek up the hill, and I mentioned that we’re in the process of selling the house. That’s when he hit me with a little proposition:

You know… I don’t mind the stairs, really. I’ve been coming up here for years now. But just the same… if there are going to be new people here soon, you think maybe we could start them out with the mailbox just a little further toward the street?

“This is the man who knows where my Victoria’s Secret catalogs are, and when they’re supposed to be delivered.”

I didn’t see any problem with that. The box was already at the base of the porch, saving the guy ten stairs or so from front door level. Below that, there’s a twenty-five foot or so walkway, then sixteen or so stairs leading to a landing, and another handful of steps down to the street. It’s a hike, even if you’re only going as far as the mailbox. Some days, I set up a base camp on the walkway myself, just to break up the trip. I’ve considered installing a tent with cold water and oxygen masks on the landing. I feel his pain, is what I’m saying.

So, I promised to do my brother in short blue pants a solid, and move the mailbox closer to the street. When new people move in, they’ll see the box there and be encouraged to also help the man out. It’s just good manners, really. And the last thing you want is to be rude to the person who delivers your bills, magazines and paper-based spam. That stuff could end up in the bushes, or down the block, or stuffed in the sewer grate out front. Or on the internet. Ouch.

The next morning, I was still in the house when the mail ran — and hadn’t moved the box yet. Strike one on my permanent record, no doubt, but hopefully the mailman just assumed I’d forgotten. And I dutifully kept my promise on the way out the door, escorting the box down to the landing, just a few steps from the sidewalk.

I also dutifully called my wife to let her in on the plan, lest she think we have some sort of mailbox-moving gnome infestation on the premises. Those things can be hell to get rid of, and have you seen the cost of gnome traps lately? Best to practice full disclosure, and nip any misunderstandings in the bud. So I rang her up, explained in detail why I’d moved the box and how the situation came to be, and assured her that we remain, to the best of my knowledge, fully gnome-free as a household. She listened, patiently waited through the whole explanation, and then offered the following bit of constructive criticism:

Crazy husband did what, exactly?

She pointed out that a mailbox mere steps from street level is a much juicier target for those unscrupulous characters who might decide they’d like to steal our mail receptacle. Which I can see, I suppose. Assuming that anyone would actually want to steal a twelve-dollar mailbox — or the cable bills and nine pounds of catalogs that are delivered therein six days a week. Or that our immediate neighborhood is populated with fewer scruples per capita than I’d given it credit for. Everybody walking around the area looks pretty scrupulous to me. I thought we were fully scruplified around here. Maybe there are roving bands of scruple-free mailbox bandits from points beyond that I’m not aware of, but short of that, our mailbox seemed relatively safe to me.

None of these points convinced my wife, of course. She also noted that ‘scruplified’ isn’t actually a word, and that most of those catalogs belong to me.

Hey, I made one purchase from Harry & David’s once, and now I’m on every godforsaken apple and raisin and seedless banana mailing list from Washington state to the Tallahassee orange groves. How the hell was I supposed to know?

Anyway, when she got home that night, she moved the box back to its original location, without our mail toter so much as seeing it in the new, closer to sea level, perch. And I’m not sharing a bed with the mailman, so I left it the hell alone when I arrived home later in the evening. I did ask my missus whether maybe she’d left him a nice note, explaining the situation. She said, ‘Pffft. It’s not like I talked to the guy.

Nice. Throwing me under the mail truck. That’s my sweetums.

I figured the deal was done, and that was the end of it. The mail carrier would leave us a nasty letter or open all our personal cards to steal the checks, or just leave a big fat steamer in the mailbox, and then we’d be even again. I thought about wearing gloves — and possibly a hazmat suit — to check the mail for a few weeks, but other than that, I basically forgot about the whole misadventure.

Until the next day. When I arrived home before my wife, and found the mailbox, with the day’s haul inside, sitting on the landing just above street level. Seems the mailman, unaware of the drama going on when he wasn’t around, gave up on me remembering our conversation and took matters into his own hands. Now he had moved the mailbox back down to where we’d talked about.

I stood on the sidewalk for a full minute, just staring at it — and considering my options. Luckily for me, I was heading back out of the house that night, and before my wife got home. Certainly, the mailman wouldn’t be back by before I jetted, either. So I just pretended I never saw the stupid mailbox. Do not collect mail, do not move box, go directly to house and for the love of god, get the hell back out before anyone sees you. That was the plan, and I executed to perfection.

When I got back to the house, after a few hours out, the mailbox was where I expected it — back by the porch, and far, far away from the mean street below. My wife was in bed, sleeping comfortably with the knowledge that no mailbox-thieving ruffians were having their way with our precious post box tonight.

That’s when it finally dawned on me — the mailman knows nothing of any of this. All he sees is: mailbox not moved down, mailbox not moved down, mailbox moved down my own damned self… and mailbox moved back up again, to the top of Mount Charlie. It’s possible that he’d guessed my wife vetoed our little plan — perhaps he has a mail-missus of his own back home, and can relate — but it’s just as likely that he thinks I’m forgetful, deceitful, or worst of all, just trying to screw with his head.

This is the man who knows where my Victoria’s Secret catalogs are, and when they’re supposed to be delivered. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Meanwhile, my wife refuses to leave a note, and I’m collecting the mail these days with oven mitts, a paper baggie and a set of extra-long tongs. Just in case. There’s a federal employee who may well think I’m spitefully adding an extra sixty feet, round-trip, to his daily rounds, and there’s no telling what sort of mood he’s going to be in by the time he reaches our box. Or what he might have jostled loose to leave us as a ‘present’. I can only imagine what important bits of mail he might withhold to teach us a lesson. Tax documents, perhaps, or credit card bills, or the extra-special push-up bra blowout sale. The horror.

In fact, all I’m seeing lately is those damned Harry & David catalogs. Guys, seriously. I gifted a crate of peaches to a family member — once. I’m not that into fruit. Give it an effing rest, already.

Permalink  |  2 Comments



2 Responses to “Il(lin’) Postino”

  1. anditsgone46 says:

    Don’t you love it when your spouse INSISTS on doing something that could get you into hot water or at the very least make it uncomfortable for you with say , a post man, and then refuses to cop to it or why? God love em

    that was a great post by the way…Maybe you should leave the note; then Vicky will stay you and the mailman’s little secret:)

  2. JohnnyB says:

    Funny post!

    Maybe your wife has some ulterior motive in having the mailman climb the stairs. Is she ever home alone when the mail arrives? Perhaps she likes the sight of his well-muscled legs powering up the steps?

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