The Give and Take of Mailing A Letter

For the past three years or so I go to the post office whenever I have a letter or a bill to mail. I began doing that when there were concerns raised in our neighborhood about items being taken from mailboxes when the flag was pointed up. That had been the sign for the postal carrier to pick up a letter to be mailed, but, evidently, it had also become an indication for thieves to take a bill that had personal checks enclosed.

So I started going to the post office and dropping the envelopes into the big mailbox in the drive-thru lane. We didn’t have to worry about personal info getting stolen and it gave us peace of mind.

And then the post office put in new mailboxes! The first time I pulled up to mail a letter I realized I could no longer reach the mail slot from my vehicle. Maybe if I measured in at 6 foot 9 inches or had arms so long on my 5’6″ frame that I could be a carnival side show…maybe then I could have reached, but neither of those scenarios was the reality. The new mailbox almost qualified for a different zip code, it was so far away.

So I’d unfasten my seatbelt, put the car in park, get out, and insert the envelope through the slot. The new mailbox no longer had that door that you opened and placed the letter in. To make it more of a challenge, the new mailbox has a hard, unyielding metal slot that puts it a couple more inches out of reach. Ugh!

I’d made adjustments in the last year or so. Now when I pull in the lane to mail something I roll down my window, fold my rearview mirror in, and inch up so close to the box that I have to be careful not to scratch the paint on my vehicle. With a grunt that indicates the stretching of my stomach muscles, I’m able to get a business-size envelope into the slot just enough to tilt it over the edge and into the abyss. Slowly then I pull a few feet forward and push my mirror back in its proper place.

I’ve thought about the effort to mail an item in an industry that has been struggling for the past who-knows-how-many years. A parallel, or parable, of life, crept into my mind as I pondered.

So often I take the attitude that the world revolves around me, my wants, my whims, and my demands. When I have to stretch myself in such a way that it necessitates my leaning a little bit more I become annoyed and almost offended.

But what I have needed to learn– and I’m not just talking about the post office now– is that there needs to be give-and-take in our actions and expectations, a little bit of leaning toward the receiver and a little bit of peace of mind that it has been securely received. When life is filled with a crowd of receivers who aren’t willing to give there becomes a mounting suspicion in our midst. It starts small and builds to the point that it becomes a sticking point for separation.

And it simply began with a short arm and an envelope!

letter mail mailbox postbox

Photo by Jaymantri on


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