Postmasters of Our Domain

I seem to have adjusted to the Internet mentioned in the previous post. We’re still not happy and try daily to figure out solutions. It’s hard to say that you’d have given up the idea of this perfect setting if you’d known about the poor Internet, but there are times when you wish you’d been informed. In the end, fresh air and solitude contain a value greater than how fast our Internet pages load.

Aside from e-mail, we recently had to deal with snail mail. There are things you notice when looking for houses, and once the offer was made, we’d noticed that the mailbox sat on a long board along with those belonging to the neighbors. What we didn’t notice was that ours was the only one that locked.

At the first opportunity, I drove down to the mailbox (yes, the driveway is that long) and tried to pick the lock. We had phoned our Realtor to let him know that the previous owners had left every key they had, but not something to open that silly box. From previous experience, I knew the locks were flimsy and thought I’d have no problem breaking in. I had no luck so I reached my skinny arm inside the top to see if I could feel anything. There was no mail.

The lack of letters concerned me because I’d placed a hold on the mail three weeks before leaving Los Angeles County. We had to be out of the old house before closing on the new house, so holding the mail was preferable than forwarding it in case something went awry with the deal on the new house. Once we were certain all would move forward, I placed the forwarding order online and expected the mail to catch up with us three days after our arrival.

However, when we dropped by the post office the afternoon before we left Southern California, we were informed that they didn’t have our mail because we were at the wrong post office. We trekked across town to the other post office where two desk clerks and a manager informed us that they couldn’t find our mail. In an effort to do his job better, our carrier had received the forwarding order and had decided to start forwarding a few days early as a convenience to us. After they phoned him to find this out, we were relieved to learn the reason, which was better than the initial “We can’t find your mail. Are you sure you had it held?”

After I pulled my arm from the locked mailbox down on the main road, we thought it best to drive to the local post office to inquire about the missing mail. One great thing about rural life is that there are no lines at the post office and everyone knows everyone else’s name. We introduced ourselves to the postmaster and explained the situation. He informed us that while our house is located in his zip-code, it’s actually delivered by carriers (in their own cars) who work out of the neighboring post office. We might check with his buddy Dan. Fine. How do we get there?

We curved around the five-mile scenic drive to the next village and found the post office just where he said it would be. Dan was busy, but he came out to hear our tale. He made a comment about Californians, and we couldn’t tell if he was serious or joking. Gary tried describing where we live, and he stopped us. “I know exactly where you live. I drive the route twice a year, and my sister used to live around the corner. The problem is with the county. They only have so many street numbers, and then they repeat them over and over. That mailbox on the row is not yours. It belongs to the family on another street with your number. In fact, you don’t have a mailbox.”

One of the mailbox rows in the area. Like this one, the one at the end of our driveway has no space remaining.
One of the mailbox rows in the area. Like this one, the one at the end of our driveway has no space remaining.

He listed the options available to us. We could go to the hardware store and purchase a new box, figure out a way to put it up since there is no room left on the communal board (he could provide height standards as we might have noticed boxes are lower due to the fact that carriers use their own vehicles) and expect our mail to be delivered at some point between noon and 5:00 each day. Or, we could get a post office box and pick it up in the lobby 24/7. We asked about package deliveries on the route. “What if we order something from Amazon?”

“Amazon?!?” By his shocked tone, you’d have thought we were expecting things from the actual Amazon. “You’ll definitely need a P.O. box.” End of discussion. Well, perhaps not the end of discussion. Since the carrier for our route comes out of his office, should we get the box at his post office or with his buddy Charlie who’d sent us over?

“Six of one…” Okay, well which post office is closer to our house? “Well, if you come from Blithe Road and weave over, it’s about five miles to us, but the speed limit is sixty most of the way. If you go over to Charlie’s, it’s only three miles, but due to the curves and traffic, the speed limit is forty tops, so in miles you’re closer over there, but in time to get there and back, it might be closer over here depending on the time of day and other factors.”

Well, aside from the daily mail being posted by 9:30 at either Charlie’s or Dan’s, should we just get our mail at his place even if the town and zip-code would be different from our actual residence?

“Doesn’t really matter. You see? All the mail comes to us first. We pull off the mail for our zip-code and send the rest over to Charlie’s. He pulls off all the remaining mail to sort it out for the post office boxes and the northern delivery route before putting the rest back on the truck and sending it back over here. Either way, you’d get your mail by nine-thirty with a post office box.”

Thank you. That gives us some options to consider. In the meantime, have you seen any of our mail since it would have come here and not to Charlie’s? He yelled to Irmagarde in the back who said she hadn’t seen a single thing.

After all this, we left with only a book of stamps. He was pushing the Elvis commemorative, but I had my eye on the Flannery O’Connor, one of my favorite authors.

“We’re out of those.”

“Oh, well.” Then I added, “For her to be so popular where so few people are living, that’s a good indicator of the—”

“Not really,” he interrupted. “We only got a few.”

© 2015 by Patrick Brown

Visit my author page at to learn about my books “Moral Ambiguity” and “Tossed Off the Edge.”


8 Replies to “Postmasters of Our Domain”

  1. Oh, Dear. Well, Guys — Paradise does have its limitations. Trust all is becoming more routine, but, your experiences with post office ins and outs and drive-bys and pick-ups does remind of “The Egg and I” and that delightful lady’s rural move next to Ma and Pa Kettle. Glad the piano has arrived. That will dissolve much of any frustration.
    Big Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think my blood pressure might have gone up a notch or two after that experience. It’s frustrating to say the least but it’s also funny if you’re not the one without a mailbox or mail. My hats off to both of you. However, I do love hearing your tales of rural living!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great Story. I think you need this kind of rigamarole (sp) ? to keep life interesting in rural america.
    I mean you don’t have traffic….so…..??

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry! (I needed a laugh to start my day today.) Hang in there. You have definitely arrived in a whole new world. Can’t wait to hear more stories. Love you, brother!

    Liked by 1 person

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