I saw this on a poster in the post office this week: “the check is in the mail–or is it?” Then the poster continued to list all the ways out-going mail could be purloined (I love that word, it means “stolen”) from your mail box. I was intrigued because our mail box sits in the driveway right in front of our house, where it can’t be seen at all from inside the house.
There’s a reason for putting our mailbox where it is, out in the weather, instead of a few steps further onto the porch and closer to the front door. When our house was under construction, down a short stairway and set far back from the street (behind a garage and front porch), the letter carrier came by almost every day to walk through the shell of the house, chat with the workers, and check out the fantastic view. No problem then walking all that way. But when it was time to place the mailbox, he said there is a limit to the number of steps he is required to walk from the sidewalk to the box, and every stairstep counts as two steps! We had a choice: cut a mail slot in the wall of the garage, or set the mailbox at the side of the driveway. That’s why our mailbox is so far from the front door, and that’s why we deal with outgoing mail by putting it in the box and putting up the flag.
Back to that poster: the check is in the mail. When we put the flag up to tell the letter carrier there is outgoing mail inside, we tell the whole world there is outgoing mail, envelopes that might contain checks, or documents that show credit card or bank numbers. And since we are almost last on the route, our letter carrier doesn’t come around until late afternoon, 4:30 or 5. Our mailbox has been advertising to the whole world all day long: “Come by, grab the envelopes, who knows what you’ll find?”
Traveling around town, I have seen other mailboxes, the kind that don’t have flags, with outgoing mail clipped to the front, waiting to be picked up–but by whom? What’s on your mailbox?