Each day, you would run home from school, throw open the back door and yell, “Mom, did the mail come?” “No, Dear.” she would respond. “Nothing today.” Which only meant your mail didn’t arrive. All the bills, magazines and grown-up stuff made it, but, your needs were denied for at least one more day.
Until, that one magic Wednesday, when you ran in, yelled, “Mom, did the mail come?” And she replied, “Why, Dear? Were you expecting something?”
Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord!
It’s here! She wouldn’t tease me like that. She knows I’ve been waiting so patiently. Yeah, I know… I should have been more excited when my sister was born. And I was pleased. But this… This is just so much better! So much more important.
The real… The actual… The Holy Grail of mail-in reasons to breathe…
A Winky Dink Screen.
That plastic, heavy-gauge slice of green-tinted Heaven that stuck like magic to the 18-inch television screen and threw wide open the world of traceable, black-and-white cartoon drawings to anyone fortunate enough to have wealthy parents and rabbit ears strong enough to bring in Channel 3 with minimal static.
Son. Of. A. Bi…
Overall, being a kid could be frustrating. But, knowing there was a mail-in, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel reason to go on? Well… You just knew to be brave and never take your eyes off that slot in the side of the house.
And who made all of those wonderful dreams come true? Well, sure. The actual Winky Dink Management Company had a hand in it. And the plastic extrusion plant that spun bio-hazardous materials into a “Window of Unlimited Possibilities.” But… From the standpoint of a kid?
It was Herb the Mailman who truly turned dreams into reality. It was Herb, who walked right up the driveway and placed gold, frankincense, Mir and a Winky Dink Screen into your outstretched, grateful and ever-loving hands.
Oh, and don’t kid yourself. Herb knew! He knew this was much more than a “Special Delivery” of tomato seeds to Mrs. Beckin across the street. Or a plain brown envelope to Mr. Schmidt, whose lawn needed attention.
No. This was a true “Special Delivery” for him as well. A slice-of-life break in his typical over-the-shoulder, leather-pouched journey through the neighborhoods of West Main Hill. I thought the world of Herb, and we always knew we were there for each other. I would mail for him, and he would deliver for me. We were a team.
Yeah… You just can’t buy memories like that. Or, for that matter, the loyalty, respect, commitment, honor and integrity that goes with them. It all has to work together.
Except, you know what? And here’s the exciting part. You still can buy memories like that. For 50 cents. And that’s why, to this day, I love and defend the United States Post Office
You talk about a bargain. Who would take a letter from Michigan to California in three days for 50 cents? You can’t get a quarter of a gallon of gas for 50 cents. And, by the way, the word “cents” is spelled out here because computers no longer offer it on the main keyboard. Oh, sure, the dollar sign is still there. But apparently any reference to coins has become irrelevant.
And yet, the cost to mail a letter?
And what about the famous Post Office mantra:
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Turns out that’s famous for a reason. It’s true.
People sometimes say, “It isn’t fit for man or beast to be out there on a day like this,” only to look outside and see Bill or Barb working through the “inclement weather” to bring the mail.
This is also why I tend to overreact when someone says, “Well, it didn’t arrive again today. It must be lost in the mail.” No. Bull shit. “That’s not why it isn’t here.” I tell them. “It isn’t here because someone at the other end didn’t mail it promptly. Yeah, that’s right. You heard me.
“Quit blaming the Post Office for someone else’s inefficiency. The Post Office has the courage and conviction to stamp the mail with the date they receive it. Grow some balls and stamp your mail with the date you were supposed to send it, and then let’s see whose holding up the process.”
Is the Post Office perfect? Well, of course, not. But then, what is? Congress? Two-for-one hot dogs at the gas station? A one-year limited warranty? A Customer Service rep in India named “Brian?”
I realize my feelings about the Post Office are from a different time and perspective. A time before faxes, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. But, to this very day, after I’ve ordered something, I take my time peeking into the mailbox, just hoping a “Special Delivery” is there waiting for me.
How about that?