I live in the country, and yes, apparently, in a world with unlimited forms of entertainment teenagers still find destroying mail boxes the height of hilarity. My mailbox has been demolished three times in one year. If it were the entire street that got hit, we could at least rally round to grumble and commiserate together. But alas, it is just my mailbox. I don’t even KNOW any teenage boys in Louisa. Do they have me mistaken for someone else? Do they get heaps of delight watching me yet again dig a hole and fill it with cement and assemble another new and costly mailbox and post? WHAT IS IT? What kind of negative mail related karma have I attracted to myself?!
The first time it got a bashing, all that was left was a battered box flung far into the front yard, the post, which had been cemented in, had disappeared completely.
With the second bashing, I actually heard the box being annihilated, I just naively lay in bed wondering why there was a neighbor repeatedly opening and closing their car door in the middle of the night when in actuality there was a kid who had gotten out of his car with a baseball bat and was whacking repeatedly at the post arm, until he succeeded in dismantling it. He then gave a loud whoop of triumph and hopped in the get away car with his posse and sped down the street in a cloud of dust and squealing tires. It was finally at that point I realized what really had been going on and leapt out of bed only to view from my window the sad and wounded remains of these senseless hostilities.
So I then decided that I was going to catch the little bandits on film and set up my video camera every night with its night vision feature on. The camera I had at the time was an older one and video tape only runs for 4 hours, so I had to set my alarm to get up in the middle of the night to change the tape. I was quite diligent and kept dragging myself from comfortable, sound sleep month upon month until finally I just decided it wasn’t worth the sleep deprivation. They had won the battle, I surrendered. And yes, once my little white flag had been symbolically raised, my mailbox was again flattened, razed, ravaged and abused a third time.
I attached yet another new box with a cursory single screw to the dangling arm of the leaning, weary battle-worn post. After all, why put in a lot of effort at this point, I would just slap something up that could hold a few letters each day and wait for the next attack.
Enter Gary, cowboy, country singer, pipe layer and husband to my co-worker Kate. Gary needed a web site to support his budding fame, I desperately needed a bash-proof mailbox. Let the bartering begin!
Gary lays pipe at his day job, (but let me here also plug his talent and singing/song writing abilities: he’s very, very good). So Gary tells me that he can create for me a bash-proof mailbox. A mailbox like no other. A mailbox made of pipe. A mailbox that will be ugly, but could destroy the arm bones of any young buck attempting to wage war upon it.
Ugly? Who cares, I’ve had it with mailbox repair, bring on ugly. After all, how ugly could it be? I am imagining three inch piping as a post with the box anchored to it, I’ve seen them like that in the country. But Gary thinks big….really big.
He shows up to my house on what happens to be the hottest day in decades. It’s 100°F before noon and the humidity makes it feel even worse. I question whether today is the right day to be doing anything outside, let alone be working. It is so hot that when I step out for five minutes to talk to him the tops of my toes start to burn like someone has set them alight. How is he going to work in this? I check on him constantly out the window to be sure he is still standing. At one point I don’t see him. I wait. And wait. And wait some more. Oh no, he’s passed out and in the ditch, I just know it! I go out to look in the ditch. No Gary. I walk around the yard, my toes burning, but can’t find him. As I am looking under his truck, out he comes from the house next door. Ah yes, small towns; he went to school with my neighbor and was over at her house catching up. Ok, no problem, just thought you might be passed out in the ditch, my bad.
With a little more work he is finished and fetches me to come see his handy work. It truly is a mailbox like no other. I mean NO OTHER.
He has used 12 inch bright blue piping which emerges out of the ground like some proud alien port to an underground world.
Attached to that is an iron elbow with a glorious crown of one inch lugs around its ends joining it to the next piece of bright blue piping that becomes the “box” part to hold the mail.
And to top it off, he has used the little red flag from my old mailbox and attached it to the side of this Marvelous Holder of Epistles so that there should be no mistaking its purpose. He has devised a white pipe plug to use as the door, but doesn’t like the results; it doesn’t quite fit right, so currently there is no door.
I express worry about the mail just disappearing down the big pipe since there is no barrier to stop it. I mean, if it falls in there, it’s gone forever! This mailbox is permanent baby, it’s not going anywhere, a gynormus truck could run into it and loose!
He suggests he bring a feedbag from home and fix it in place on the inside to keep this from happening. Feedbag, oky doky... He also suggests I paint the pipes different colors for the holidays; the Fourth of July is coming, and perhaps I can alternate red, white and blue on each pipe section. He further explains how I can hang stuff on the lugs and giant screws to decorate it……. (insert cricket sounds here).
I know that I need to do something to enhance its rugged beauty, after all, I am an artist by trade, and this is a real opportunity to explore the depths of my creativity. A challenge, by golly yes, an object to transform, and titivate. And honestly, I DO have a one-of-a-kind-like-no-other-original-unique-kick-butt mailbox. If this sucker goes down, I have vastly underestimated the teenagers of Louisa. Although I do wonder if they will just see it as a challenge, hmmm, perhaps I should set up the video camera again just to capture the response and possible attempts. Come on Don Quixote! Come try to attack my windmill! My mighty, mighty cowboy-made windmill – er, mailbox! I dare ya!! I double dare ya!
So far, no mail has been delivered three days out of this week. Perhaps I just didn’t have mail those days. Or perhaps it has vanished into the underground world that now exists in my ditch.
I came home yesterday to find bright blue paint marking the water lines that run the length of the front yard just behind my Magnificent Receptacle for Correspondence. Does the county think that perhaps my water line needs repairing because they perceive my Superb Vessel for Communications as a broken water pipe in need of repair? Maybe. I’ll keep you posted on the post.
So, it has been two weeks, and I should have had several pieces of mail that have not made an appearance. Gary had come and attached a piece of feedbag to the interior of my new and wonderful mailbox, but since I was not at home at the time, I was not able to request that he take off the top to see if any of my conveyance had fallen into the depths of the thing.
To the rescue comes my next door neighbor Chris, a young man of exceptional humor and determination. Chris got out his Granddad’s pipe wrench, and together with his mom Theresa, the three of us (and it did take three of us to handle this monster), proceeded to dismantle it enough to peer inside.
Once the lugs were loosened and removed one of the iron rings dropped like lightening onto Theresa’s toes. What a trooper! She hopped, she winced, she expressed her pain….she hobbled back home for some ice. Chris and I got the large head of the colossal beast off and gazed inside. Sure enough, more mail than I could have possibly imagined had fallen and drown in the dark, wet depths of the obelisk.
I remain in awe of just how deep Gary - a one man powerhouse of energy - dug down to put in place this Matchless Wonder of Dispatch. Mere arms, even Chris', who is quite tall, were not able to reach down into the abyss. Extra long tongs and a skinny rake were quickly employed in order to save these poor innocents from the malodorous void.
We retrieved no less than four magazines, (one of which was a Martha Stewart publication, she would be horrified!), four catalogs, five bills, an insurance statement, my bank statements, a letter from a friend which is completely unreadable, two checks totaling over nine hundred dollars and wouldn’t you know it, not one piece of junk mail.
All of this paper communication was soaked completely through, even the magazines wrapped in sealed plastic. I salvaged the checks and dried them between two towels over night to make for what could be an interesting trip to the bank. The Chronicles of Communication continue, stay tuned.