“You’ve Still Got Mail”
By Jerry Zezima
I like to think outside the box, mainly because I can’t fit inside the box. And even if I could, I would suffocate.
That’s why I have never believed that the check is in the mail — unless it’s one of the checks I have to write so I can pay all the bills that are delivered to my mailbox.
But I recently saved myself $80 — the price of a new mailbox, which would have contained a bill for that amount from a home improvement store — by fixing a broken door on the decrepit mailbox my wife, Sue, and I have had since we moved into our house almost a quarter of a century ago.
For several months, the door had been unhinged, not unlike a certain homeowner. Every time I opened it, the stupid thing came off in my hands. I closed it by lining up the magnet on the door with the magnet on the frame.
One day the door blew off in a high wind. I found it down the street.
The mail was still in the box, but I couldn’t take the chance that something important — a supermarket circular with coupons for beer — would blow away, too.
“I think we need a new mailbox,” I told Sue.
“Can’t you just fix the door?” she asked.
It was a good question with a bad answer: No.
So I sought advice from our mailman, Arnie.
“Bore a hole in the side of the mailbox and put a screw through until it attaches to the door,” he suggested. “Do you have a screwdriver?”
“There’s vodka and orange juice in the house,” I replied.
“It might help,” Arnie said.
“If I fix the door, will you stop delivering bills?” I wondered.
“Only if you put a lock on it,” Arnie said.
Sue and I went to a home improvement store to look for screws — I couldn’t find a lock — and went to an aisle with mailboxes.
“They cost 80 bucks!” Sue shrieked. “That’s too expensive. We can save a lot of money if you do it yourself.”
So I spoke with a helpful hardware man named Brian.
“Get screws that are an inch and a half long,” he suggested after I showed him a photo of our mailbox. “If they’re too short, bring them back.”
Naturally, the screws were too short.
“Bring them back,” said Sue.
That’s when I met Chris, a hardware guy who had better advice.
“Get a threaded metal bar and a hacksaw,” he said. “Measure the bar and cut it to the right length. Leave a little bit sticking out of the side of the mailbox, then put a washer and a nut on the end.”
“It sounds too complicated just to get bills and junk mail,” I said.
“You can do it,” Chris assured me.
I bought a threaded metal bar, a packet of washers and one of nuts, and brought the whole kit and caboodle home.
I found a hacksaw in a toolbox in the shed, went to the garage to get a hammer and a nail, and walked outside to the mailbox.
When I tried to drive the nail through the side of the thick plastic box, the hammer ricocheted out of my hand and landed on the curb.
As this pathetic scene was unfolding, drivers were actually slowing down — some even stopped at the stop sign — to witness the witless.
Undeterred, I went back into the garage and found a drill. I put in a bit, got an extension cord, trudged outside again and, like a dentist working on a stubborn molar, drilled a hole through the side of the box.
I slipped the bar through, attached it to the door, used the hacksaw to cut off the excess metal, and put on a washer and a nut.
Sue was astonished.
“It’s unbelievable!” she exclaimed. “You saved us $80.”
Arnie the mailman was impressed, too.
“You did a good job,” he told me. “Now I can’t bring you a bill for a new mailbox.”
Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima