I like getting mail. Not junk mail of course, but a handwritten letter or a fun invitation always brings a smile to my face. I think this is true for most people.
When I enthusiastically scurry up my front steps after a long day of work and peer inside my mailbox I'm hoping for a personal greeting from an old friend or a brown paper package . . . tied up with string. But what do I get?
Other people's mail. All the time.
Today, for example, I received mail for four different people with four different addresses. How does this happen? Correction: how does this happen often? And when I use the word often I mean at least twice a week.
I know what you're thinking: file a complaint. Really? Do you think that's wise? I don't want to complain about a total stranger, who knows where I live, who is employed by a federal operation that is responsible for the term, "going postal." Especially when his response to a friendly wave is a blank stare followed by a low whistle.
I've inquired about the quality of my neighbors' mail delivery service and it's the same story: they get other people's mail. All the time.
The problem is that, as a neighborhood, we've all received the blank-stare-low-whistle treatment so we're all uniformly terrified of him. No one has the courage to complain.
The bright side is that I'm very good friends with most of my neighbors. I have to be. We're always exchanging our incorrectly delivered mail.
And so I must consider the possibility that my postman is a "big picture" kinda guy. He's not satisfied with simply providing reliable parcel delivery for his community. Nope. By intentionally misdelivering our mail he is fostering communication, which creates relationships, that connect households, that form friendly, safe neighborhoods.
So the next time my wave is returned with that cold, blank stare and the eerie, low whistle I might just have to say, "Thank you. I realize what you're trying to accomplish."
If you don't hear back from me, it didn't go over well.