By Mel Carriere
It is that time of year, boys and girls, when we find ourselves racing against the sun in the sky, begging for just a few more minutes. Please Mr. Sun just slow down a little and give me a couple more precious minutes, we pray as we scramble to get our Postal LLV slash Santa sleigh safely back to the station before that dreaded postal witching hour by when all little postal elves should be accounted for. Although we are fully prepared for and highly skilled at delivering in the dark when the situation calls for it, outside of a couple hard core lifer ODL psychopaths out there I don't know of anyone who likes to deliver in the dark and wouldn't avoid it when possible. Dark delivery produces a hollow, lonely, isolated feeling that humankind has deserted the streets, katy-barred the doors, and left you to the mercy of whatever howling wolves are out there trying to snatch up vulnerable, incautious stragglers.
There are always those postal customers whose lives seem to revolve around waiting by the mailbox, a uniquely American pastime that is played out in the brightest, cheeriest sunshine or the deepest gloom of night. These people subject themselves to this tedious ordeal either because they have nothing better to do, or have better things to do but choose to postpone them for the pleasure of adding to the list of miseries encountered during the letter carrier's already dreary day. Some folks literally pitch a tent by the mailbox, where they keep the Postmaster General and 113th Congress on speed dial and wait for the letter carrier to stumble along so that they can say something of completely calculated rudeness or at least of ignorant inappropriateness. I have seen them perched there in keen hawk-like vigilance as I make my way up and down the block; eyes focused to laser precision on the back of my neck boring painful holes.
So there you are, the American letter carrier, watching anxiously as the mailman-friendly sun bids adieu and that sinister, cheerless anti-mailman Moon rises up to take its place. The glum lunar orb scowls down upon you with complete disapproval, adding to the other objecting eyes on the block that peep out menacingly through the slits of window shades. You can literally feel the collective discontent weighing down your satchel and making your steps even heavier as you move briskly through the darkness, doing your best not to trip over some unseen obstacle that will add you to that list of dearly departed brothers and sisters on the back of the monthly branch newsletter.
And then it happens. Just as your hand enters the sacred holy of holies of the American mailbox you hear the dreaded words. "You're late," some faceless shadow in the dark says.
Your head spins in horror. In the glare of your headlamp you see nothing but dripping, venomous fangs. You stutter, mumble and stammer as you dig deeply for something clever to come back with, then finally abandon the effort and race away in the darkness. Coming from the place where the hulking shadow enshrouds the mailbox you think you hear sinister laughter and you double you step.
To these nocturnal letter carrier ambushers the definition of "late" has absolutely no bearing to what is taking place on the face of a clock. These people exist in a primitive, pagan, pre-technology state that is attuned to the natural rhythms of the earth and the rising and setting of the sun. Therefore, no matter how loudly you protest, 5 PM on November 1st is not the same as 5 PM on November 2nd. When you put the letters in their box November 1st at 5:15 PM with the sun still blazing high in the sky you are within the limits accepted by their solar god, but for the sun worshipers 5:15 PM on November 2nd is unpardonable heresy.
Beware the insidious approach of nightfall, my friends in blue. Watch your step and watch your mouths. Those customers that lie in pouncing position by the mailbox sadistically favor Monday over all the other days of the week because they know you will be in your most worried and demoralized state; one that will most likely provoke a reaction that merits a call to your supervisor. Somehow these folks always have the station hotline number and they are not hesitant to use it. Let the sunshine on your face chase away these dreary goblins of the night and don't look back! Keep those postal issued shoes pointed ever homeward and together Santa's little helpers will start all over again on Tuesday.
Image from: http://www.news.ruralinfo.net/2013/11/the-dark-side-of-mail-delivery.html