By John Matonich
I am glad you can’t see me right now. I just got back from the Post Office and I am sitting in my shop with a big sh#*-eating grin on my face. It happens just about every time I have to mail a letter or ship a project. Please let me explain.
My wood shop is “kitty-corner” across the street from the Post Office here in beautiful downtown Bessemer. Kitty-corner means diagonally across the street. I don’t know where that saying came from, but it has been around as long as I can remember. This post office was built in the mid-1950s or so and has been around longer than I have. It hasn’t changed much since I was a kid except the hours are shorter and the carriers don’t deliver from here anymore. The mail chutes are still there but the one for Airmail has been covered over.
The reason for my smile is that every time I drop a piece of mail in the chute I remember an instance where one of the clerks saved me from getting my backside full of handprints. I must have been seven or eight at the time and my mother entrusted me to take a letter to the post office with the right change to buy a stamp and mail it for her. When I arrived in the lobby, I am not sure why I did what I did, but I walked over to the mail chute and pushed the envelope through the slot as hard as I could. As I headed out the door and in the direction of home, I suddenly felt the change jingling in my pocket and knew I was in big trouble. Seems I forgot to buy a stamp.
I rushed back to the post office and told the clerk on duty that I had forgotten to stamp the letter my mother was counting on to get mailed. He walked behind the wall and I could hear him rummaging through the mail. He told me he didn’t see one without a stamp. I thought for a second and confessed that I may have pushed it a little hard through the slot. “A fly boy, eh”, the clerk said. “I guess so, sir,” I answered emphasizing the “sir.” I heard him walking around a bit and finally he found the wayward letter tucked under one of the machines that did something I knew nothing about.
I then proceeded to get a five minute lecture about respecting the mail and how that piece could have been lost for a long time. I nodded with all the sincerity I could muster and eventually the clerk took the change and placed a stamp on the piece to be mailed. I thanked him very much, told him I learned my lesson and headed home relieved that I averted a future problem.
That relief lasted about three days. Keep in mind Bessemer is a small town where everyone knows everyone and it wasn’t long before the postal clerk ran into my mother in the grocery store and related the story of her almost lost letter. Needless to say, the lecture was repeated when she got home, but had the letter not been found and properly stamped, I really would have got it.
I don’t care how many times I go into that building, the second I walk past or use that mail chute I have to remember sending that letter on its solo flight into the work area in the back of the post office. I am seriously thinking of trying it again. I wonder how long my power would be on if I tried it with my electric bill.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.
Image credit: Collin Anderson