When I moved into my new, overpriced suburban mansion, there were several decorating travesties that really needed to be changed. The interior was decorated with the finest wallpaper 1971 had to offer; and the outside featured a mailbox which can best be described as "broke dick.".
It was intended to look like a birdhouse perched atop a post. And in 1971, maybe it did. But in 2002, it looked like a tiny 1847 Apalachian cabin impaled on a rotting timber. It leaned precariously over the sidewalk.
I removed the eyesore, and put up a simple, respectable mailbox by my front door. Days passed. The mail came. I didn’t give it a second thought.
Then the Mailman-Lady came back from her vacation.
Our doorbell rang. My wife answered it. And before she could say “overpaid civil servant” the mailman-lady began screaming (yes, literally screaming) at her. Her diatribe vomited forth in a confusing torrent - we had no right to move our mailbox; she had no time to walk the extra 20 feet to our door, she took care of her ailing mother; we didn’t know what it was like; our mail service would be discontinued; and on and on. I don’t know what her diseased mother had to do with our mailbox, but in the angry mind of the Mailman-Lady, it was all connected.
My wife was too shocked to do anything beyond mutter an apology and hope that the Mailman-Lady was unarmed.
As for me, I just figured that the Mailman-Lady was insane. Nobody else on our street had a mailbox by the sidewalk. Could it possibly be a big deal to move my mailbox to the front of my house?
So I went to the post office in person. I talked the Route Supervisor. I was so cool. I was polite. I didn’t even mention the Mailman-Lady flipping out on my front porch. I didn’t even call her “the Mailman-Lady.” I just asked what need to be done to make the mailbox relocation legal in the eyes of the mighty Davis Post Office Route Supervisor.
It wasn’t so easy. You’d think I was asking for the guy’s remaining testicle. The conversation went something like this –
In your neighborhood we do not allow mailboxes on the fronts of houses.
I haven’t told you what neighborhood I live in
Oh, well…are there any other mailboxes on the houses in your neighborhood?
Ya, all of them.
Well, your mailbox was moved to the street because there was a dog problem. We can’t endanger our carriers by putting the mailbox by the front door. The problem dog could attack them.
We just bought the house. If there was a problem dog, it moved away before we moved in.
Well, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.
What if the dog is still there.
No. Listen. I moved in. The bad dog moved away.
But what if your dog enters your house, evolves an opposable thumb, and learns to work the doorknob? Carnage! Carnage, I tell you! BLOOD EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAH!!!!!!!
We went on like this for a good half-hour.
It is a testament to my skills as a Rhetor that the Route-Supe agreed to let me keep my mailbox where it was. But by God, if our dog menaced, drooled on, or wagged her tail at the mailman-lady, we would have to move our box right back out to the street. They couldn’t risk putting a mailbox anywhere near a dog’s owner’s front door.
I pointed out that my front door was actually further from my dog’s preferred hang-out location than the old mailbox was. If they had a problem being near my dog, they should KEEP my mailbox by the front door.
The Route-Supe politely stared at me. It was trying to explain particle physics to a doorknob.
I gave up, thanked him and went on with my life, thinking this exercise in bureaucratic idiocy was over.
Two weeks later, I got a letter from the OIC (OffIcer on Crack) for the Davis Post Office. He stated that the Route-Supe had exceeded his authority and that there was a strict policy against mailbox relocation. If my mailbox wasn’t back within two feet of its original location within 10 days, my delivery “service” would be discontinued. However, the DPO would be happy to send one of its maintenance personnel to dig me a new hole for a new mailbox post.
Now, the area around the original mailbox location is two inches of topsoil covering concrete. Digging a new posthole within two feet of the original location would require heavy machinery. So I took the DPO up on its offer. Dig me a hole!
Weeks passed. The mail came uninterrupted. No hole-specialist arrived. So no new mailbox went up
Once again, I figured that this was over.
Wrong. One day my mail stopped coming. So I called the Route-Supe to find out what was up. My timing was really amazing, because after weeks of not hearing from the guy, the Route Supe informed me that he had planned to call me the very next morning to talk to me about my hole.
The Route-Supe was unsure if the hole could be dug by his crack team of mailbox hole specialists, because he didn’t know if they possessed a post-hole digger. Weeks of intensive searching had turned up no posthole digger in their inventory. But by tomorrow morning, he would know the status of their hole equipment, and would schedule a proper digging.
Another week or so passed with no contact from the Route Supe. But my mail delivery started again, so I didn’t care.
Then one day, the hole-specialist arrived at my front door. He needed to know where to dig. My wife directed him the patch of buried concrete. After about 30 seconds of intensive concrete-thunking, the hole-specialist moved to the other side of my driveway, and dug a new hole.
Now I have a new mailbox. It is 20 feet (not two feet) from its original location. It is 40 feet closer to my dog than my front door is.
Have you ever noticed how much the little jeeps they drive look like clown cars?