(The famed USPS truck, instigator of such anguish in neighborhood dogs)
It’s almost Pavlovian: Hrmmm…motor starts up… truck goes twenty feet… then motor’s killed. Five minutes later, hrmmm…motor starts anew… truck goes another twenty feet… motor’s killed again. I hear these sounds, over and over, from 3 streets away, and I wonder: “Why wouldn’t neighborhood dogs go crazy hearing this?
Furthermore, dogs know those sounds signal the arrival of a person they’re genetically coded to hate—the postal worker. They’re only doing what they’re bred to do: Protect their turf from assault. A person in company-issued knickers (in warm weather) and cap, swinging up one’s walkway, opening a lid on a mailbox to deposit the day’s mail is definitely a major intrusion to the canine set.
I retired four years ago, and despite the fact I run errands, juggle activities, volunteer, and see friends, I spend a lot more time in my home. That means I’m privy to neighborhood comings and goings. For instance, I know when neighbors go off to work each morning (as I burrow deep in my comforter); I know when school kids wend their way to bus stops; I know Joe Zimmer puts his trash out on Friday mornings (instead of the night before), and I know Judy Walsh walks her dog every morning at 7:00AM, on the median grass strip of our road……. never picking up his deposit. She thinks none of us notice.
Finally, I know my postal delivery person’s schedule.
Since retiring, I’ve become attuned to his truck’s start/stop pattern and know the route he follows. Even I eagerly await his arrival, for he brings much-anticipated packages, chatty notes from friends (who still use this mode to communicate), and invitations to socials. But the dogs have heard the telltale lead-up to his arrival way earlier than I, gearing themselves up for the confrontation.
Now, my postal delivery person, Ken, is an extrovert, something the dogs probably feel is even more of an insult, for he’s never cowed by their barking. I hear his hearty laugh with neighbors when he hits the corner of my street. He knows everyone and chats with most, on a first name basis (after all, he’s seen our names on the mail for years): “How was North Carolina this past winter?” “Is Paul (my husband) doing better, following the accident?” “Hey, today’s a good day–You got a check.” He’s even helped my neighbor fasten her 3 little tots into their car seats on occasion. That’s just the kind of guy he is.
When I greet Ken at the door, we share details of life. Since he knows I’m a writer, I invite him to jump on my blog and comment (he’s opinionated). At the same time, he shows me a cell phone picture of him at his second job. I’m not surprised at his choice of occupation: He’s a wine rep., which suggests lots of socializing with customers. In that picture, he appears a dapper, polished man, with cocked felt hat and cigar, looking every bit like Frank Sinatra, in his song rendition of “I Did It My Way.”
That’s how Ken operates as postal delivery person, too. Borrowing his wine-selling persona, he breaks into song on my steps, suggesting a stage show routine, with dance steps to follow. We both laugh, as Ken says: “It’s all about humor…You’ve got to have humor in life.”
I heartily agree, for I look for humor everywhere and find it in the most unexpected places. And I’ve discovered (and I suspect Ken has, also) that if I engage, wholeheartedly with others, we all have fun.
Why? Most people love to share. They want to tell you about themselves…their families…their jobs…their hobbies. Because we’ve gone beneath the veneer of a work relationship, I know Ken as more than the tap-dancing wine aficionado who happens to be my postal delivery person.
Now, if only the neighborhood dogs saw him that way….But then again, if they did, they’d merely wag their tales at his arrival, and I’d miss the cue an alien was about.
Biddy doesn’t wish to change a status quo that works for her.
As an aside, “Going Postal” didn’t always enjoy the positive interpretation I give it above. This phrase was coined following the era between 1986 and 1997, when postal workers gunned down 40 managers, co-workers, police, and the public in incidents of workplace rage. The USPS has worked dilligently to counter the strange phenomenon… but the phrase persists rooted in society’s psyche (many postal workers agree with that former characterization, according to Wikipedia).