Here it is so quiet that the automatic sprinkler system switching itself on after a downpour sounds like thunder. Mainly this is a function of the age of my neighbors. They range from well past retirement age to completely superannuated, not because it is one of those 55-and-up communities but because they bought here when the place was built in the 80’s and slowly fossilized into it.
We did have a crime here recently. Somebody broke into the community mailboxes. I can only think it was the most heartless and diabolical of criminals, because that is hitting old people where they hurt the most. If there is one thing my ancient neighbors love besides their grandchildren and going to Heaven, it is their mail.
The mail comes fairly early here, usually before 10, and no sooner has the mail truck putt-putted off than my neighbors descend on their boxes, eagerly yanking out the same useless supermarket flyers and coupon cards that me and my girl get nearly every day. Sometimes I get checks, which makes getting my mail extremely gratifying. I know their Social Security checks are automatically deposited, so I don’t think that my neighbors are getting any money in the mail, so why, if the mail is late, do they wander in the vicinity of the mailboxes, with looks of bleak puzzlement on their faces, like earthquake survivors stumbling around in the rubble?
My girl gets more mail here than me, because she has lived here longer and I have a separate PO box in which I get mail I don’t want her to see. Hah! Just kidding, sweetie. At this address, besides the checks, I usually just get letters from my health insurance company, at least two or three a week because I have Obamacare (for now) and mailing out useless, repetitive notices must be one of its provisions.
She also gets more interesting mail than me, having belonged at one point to both the NRA and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Possibly there is no one else in this vast nation that has contributed to both of these widely disparate non-profits, but there is a simple explanation—she teaches sociology at a local university and joined the NRA to piss off the kumbaya liberals in the sociology department, and she gives to the Southern Poverty Law Center because, at heart, she is a kumbaya liberal herself.
The SPLC has been begging for funds hard since the election, since they figure Trump will stomp all over civil rights, because that was one of his campaign promises, but the NRA is truly desperate, and for good reason. Without Democrats in office, NRA members are no longer frightened that the government will confiscate their guns and ammo, and weapons sales are grinding to a halt. People quite sensibly are figuring that the twelve assault rifles and the six crates of ammo they already bought because they were sure Obama was going to take their guns away, will hold them through the Apocalypse or until the Dems win an election, whichever comes first.
But none of these mail items are more than momentarily interesting, causing me to wonder just what it is my neighbors expect in the mail that makes them stalk the post-person so relentlessly? Do they look forward to endearing, hand-written letters and cards from their loving grandchildren? I hope not, because their grandchildren belong to a generation that figures if you can’t text it, it’s not worth saying.
Are they betting in lotteries in distant countries, and figuring it’s only a matter of time before a fortune in pounds, pesos or guineas is mailed to them in a letter covered with ugly-looking foreign stamps? Maybe that’s the answer.
Or are they treasuring those flyers because they, like my own aged mother, are determined to stock up on enough toilet paper, canned soup, shaving cream and mouthwash so that no matter how long they live, there’s going to be enough left over so that attendees can shave, gargle, eat and go to the bathroom after their funeral?
I could speculate more, but I think I hear the mail truck.