Our rural mailbox stands across the road from our house. Mid-morning today I walked out to pick up our mail.
There was no mailbox!
After the initial shock (why was I shocked? This is the Umpteenth time our rural mailbox has gone missing, run over or knocked down into the weedy ditch by passing trucks.), I found the mailbox. Flat as a Flitter, as my Mom will say. It was REALLY flat, and yet, I could tell it held our mail. Hmmm. I thought I knew who to blame: the Bridge Crew, the men with long trucks who use our intersection to back into and out of in order to make it the 1/4-mile down the road to the bridge.
Well. It was hot and sunny, and my disposition was hot and not-so-sunny as I sashayed down the road carrying my flat mailbox. I passed the first truck and frowned at the driver. I passed the second truck and frowned at that driver. I approached a bunch of burly bridge guys and called out, "Who is in charge!?" They all stopped what they were doing and stared at me. They didn't say a word. Just stared.
This is an exact replay of an early morning exchange two weeks ago between the Bridge Crew and myself. I had left the house in the wee hour of not-quite dawn, and planned to walk/run 5.5 miles before the day's heat set in. My last 1/4 mile was - you guessed it - the bridge. That Spouse o' Mine had told me only the day before that we could walk across the bridge. And so, I approached the bridge that at 7:00 am, and called out, "May I cross the bridge?" And the bridge men all stopped what they were doing and stared at me. No one said anything, so I repeated myself. And again: only silent stares. So I stepped down onto the makeshift footing of the "bridge", and one man bounded the length of the bridge over to me. He explained that, No, I was not allowed onto the bridge. I might sue them, apparently. So I gamely trod down the rocks and boulders off the side of the creek, and climbed up the other side. It's not something I had not done before, but honestly: a perfectly good bridge (more-or-less) was right above me, and I'm having to clamber around like a billy goat?! And this is not some shallow creekbed - it's like the Grand Canyon of hundreds of years of trickle-down erosion.
Ok - so to get back to today's exchange with the Bridge Crew. Finally a man stepped forward and said, "I'm in charge here." And I held my mailbox high in the air: "Would you look at this?! It's my mailbox! One of your trucks ran over it!" "Are you sure it was one of our trucks?" "This road is closed to traffic; you guys are the only ones backing in and out of that road. Of COURSE I am sure it was one of your trucks! And look! I have MAIL in my mailbox! How do you suppose I am going to get my mail?!""
He looked at my flat mailbox. The silent bridge guys behind him began smiling. REALLY BIG.
He put his hands up in the air. Surrender.
He very nicely took my mailbox away, calling for a crow bar. He pried my mailbox open. And he assured me that a new mailbox was immediately in the works. He followed me back to the scene of the truck-box collision.
This afternoon I returned home from a Lydia Circle (church) meeting and swimming (12 laps/day this week, by the way...) and two men from the Bridge Crew were across the road from our house, planting an 8-ft 4x4 into the ground. Complete with a shiny new black mailbox.