Copyright 2000 W. Bruce Cameron
Two months ago, when I went out to the mailbox, my mail was sitting in the street and the box itself was full of straw.
I pondered the situation. One of my main goals in life is to avoid offending postal employees. Was this handful of dead grass some sort of signal? A cry for help?
The next day it happened again. "It's as if, bit by bit, someone is mailing us his lawn," I mused to my wife.
"Why don't you sit at the window and spy tomorrow, and see who's doing it," she suggested.
"Are you kidding? I've got way too much stuff to do to be wasting my time watching the mailbox," I sniffed, reaching for the television remote.
On the third day, as I passed in front of the window, I was shocked to see a bird fly up to the mailbox, open it with its beak, and dart inside like it owned the place.
Now, I don't know much about birds, but I know they aren't supposed to build their nests in my mailbox! I ran out, waited until the bird flew away, and pulled all the straw onto the street in an ornithological eviction.
That afternoon, the mailman called. "This is your mailman, Mr. Cameron," he told me. "We will no longer deliver mail to you because you are housing a bird in your mailbox. That's a violation of Article 12, section 3."
"What? I am not! The bird's there without my permission," I sputtered.
"Oh. Well, then it's Article 12, section 7," he corrected himself. "Either way, it's against United States Postal Service regulations."
"I thought you guys delivered the mail no matter wind or rain or dark of night."
"Yeah, but not birds."
"Well, what am I supposed to do? Every time I clean out his nest, he just rebuilds it. He can open the mailbox by himself!"
"That's up to you, sir. I don't know anything about birds. I'm not the Postmaster-General, I'm just the local mailman."
I managed to convince him that I would have the bird removed by the next day's delivery, and received, under Article 32, section 19, a stay of execution.
Well, I don't own many weapons. I have some kitchen knives, but somehow I couldn't see myself successfully stabbing the poor creature. I also ruled out strangulation and drowning--even if I made it look like an accident, I was afraid of what the neighbors might think.
"Why don't you just put some stamps on it, and then the postman will pick it up," one of my kids suggested at dinner that night. I pointedly ignored the ensuing snickering, especially because I had been thinking the same thing. Good idea, but how would I know how much postage to use?
Then it struck me: I had, living under my own roof, the perfect solution to my problem--a bird's mortal enemy, a proven hunter of small creatures: my wife's cat.
Now let me tell you, shoving a cat into a mailbox is not as easy as it sounds. Felines apparently have an instinctive fear of small, postal spaces. They also are not reluctant to sink their teeth into your knuckles if they believe it will dissuade you from stuffing them inside a metal container.
Well, by the time I managed to close the lid on my uncooperative pet, word must have spread among all the flocks in the neighborhood, because the bird never returned home. Unfortunately, I neglected to advise our mailman of my plan, so that the first he heard of it was when he opened the box to deliver our mail. The cat launched itself out in such a fashion as to put our house in violation of Articles 19, 27, and 30 of the Postal Code. (I could see Article 27, but 19? Come on, get real.)
At my hearing I pointed out that the postman's screaming was evidence of a distinct lack of professional detachment, but despite this prejudicial atmosphere I was still placed on postal probation. Now I must pick up my mail at the post office, and I had to pay for some facial stitches.
I agree, it hardly seems fair.
Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 2000
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