Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Philosopher Mailman and Poetry Journal

My regular mailman is George, a nice fellow probably in his 30s who, I'm told by my friend who's also a mailman, is stridently liberal and is consigned to sort his mail every morning next to the local post office's only conservative, a mousy fellow who listens to talk radio on his headphones as he delivers the mail. So George's day often gets off to a lively start; but my house is near the end of his route and he seems to be in a good mood by the time he comes to my block.

This is an interesting contrast from Dave, my former mailman, who was the local branch's other right-leaning carrier (according to my friend, who used to stand next to Dave to sort mail). After the 2008 election, we didn't see Dave for a few days. My husband speculated that he was sitting in a dark room, staring at a picture of Sarah Palin. Dave went AWOL for a few weeks this winter, and then called in his resignation. For several weeks after that we had no regular carrier and our mail arrived at a different time most days, often after 5 p.m., as the post office parcelled out Dave's former route in pieces to carriers who already had a full route of their own to deliver.

I like a certain degree of predictability with my mail, whether I'm expecting a freelance check, some mail art, or the Poetry Journal I seldom get around to reading; and I like to know the name of the person who brings my mail, if for no other reason than because that person knows something about me and my reading habits. So one day last spring I grumbled to my husband that I wished the post office would give me a mailman. He gave me that look and said, "No, dear. You can't have a mailman."

Well, now I do, in a manner of speaking, and he's a nice, dependable fellow. On George's regular day off, our mail is usually brought by Tim, one of the few other mailmen I know by name. Tim sometimes takes a break after he finishes his route early and has an espresso at the local coffee shop, which I also frequent. Tim has a master's degree in philosophy, leans well left of center politically, and is a bit of an intellectual eccentric. He's friendly enough, but I'm often not sure what sort of topic of conversation I should broach with him, so I usually end up talking about the weather, unfortunately.

One day I was at the post office around 4:30 p.m. or so as Tim was just leaving for the day, he said hello as he came out the door, and added, "I delivered your Poetry Journal today."

That evening after supper I decided to ignore the Sudoku and read Poetry Journal instead.


  1. Sharon,
    We have a great mailman out where we live- I am not sure what Kenny's political views are- he happens to live down the road form us- a Viet Nam vet- he has the gift of stories- when he gets going I can only imagine how late the mail gets delivered to others.

  2. I enjoyed this story of mailmen! We have a mailwoman here and your story has made me want to ask her more about herself.


Thanks for reading, and for sharing your thoughts.