Mailbox Mania

By Mir
May 30, 2004

So… uh… I forgot to mention one teeny little pertinent bit of information in the peanut butter nuts story. The gifted gentleman in question? My pastor. Church today? A little weird.

(Help me, Oh Lord… disturbing images flit through my brain….)

I came home ready to tackle A Project. My kid-free weekends are full of Projects, because anyone who’s undertaken A Project with their offspring’s “help” knows that while it may build memories that last a lifetime, it also tends to make said project take a lifetime. Today, being a bright, gorgeous day even better (warmer) than yesterday, seemed ideal for undertaking The Mailbox Transplant.

The mailbox that came with this house was in sad shape from day 1. I suspect it to be original to the property. It is metal, clearly repainted several times but rusting through anyway, tilting to the left as if caught in a perpetual gust, and falling apart. First the flag fell off; that was repaired with an oversized nut and bolt, which meant the flag remained attached but required Herculean strength to be coaxed to move at all. Next, the handle broke off the door, and despite a couple of attempts to re-rig it, it was never right again. I often find the mailbox wide open, which is maybe annoying in the nice weather, but downright gross during a nor’easter. (One could argue you’re not truly a New Englander until you’ve had a mailbox full of snow… but I’d rather retain my Annoying Outsider Who Still Bitches About The Weather status, thanks.)

So I’ve been meaning to replace that mailbox for ages. Unfortunately, I suffer from a unique learning disability wherein I will periodically go to Home Despot, look at the mailboxes, complain to anyone who will listen that “that’s an insane amount of money for a plastic box!”, leave in a huff, and manage to forget all of this and do it again a few months later. And again a few months later. And… well, you get the idea. Money’s tight. The existing mailbox works… sort of.

A couple of weeks ago I happened upon a yard sale in the process of packing up. I hopped out of my car to have a quick look, and lookie here! A brand new mailbox, still sealed in the carton, for $10. The cheapest one I’d ever seen at Home Despot was $35. I popped that puppy in the back of the car, threw it in the garage when I got home, and forgot about it, because it then proceeded to rain for two weeks straight.

Today I was ready! Yes sir! First, let’s extract the old mailbox. No problem. It was attached to the post with… four rusty nails, two defunct yellow jacket nests, and three strange little egg-sac-looking thingies that I really don’t want to think too much about. Ick. But I managed to take off the old box with my trusty hammer, a little elbow grease, and a lot of muttering. Time to unveil the new mailbox.

I will grant you this: a more observant person would’ve thought–upon seeing the mailbox carton–“Wow! That has got to be one big-ass mailbox!” But not me. No, I can be kind of oblivious, sometimes. I don’t know what I thought. Maybe I thought the mailbox was packed in protective styrofoam. Maybe I thought my new mailbox came with a bonus pony. Maybe I just never really looked at the damn box. I’m really not sure. Regardless, I was stunned to open the box and find… a mailbox exactly the same size as the box it was packed in (minus a millimeter or so all around, if you want to be picky about it). This was not a mailbox I had purchased. This was a mailbox-shaped shed. I had a fleeting image of myself at the height of exasperation, shouting, “I have HAD IT! No more bickering! YOU–go sit on the stairs! YOU–go sit in the mailbox!”

It’s Really Really Big. The Hummer of mailboxes, one might say.

Surprise gave way to delight (dude, I paid $10 for the $50 model! and entire boxes will fit in here!), which soon gave way to panic (what if it was too big to mount on the support pole?). I dragged it down to the end of the driveway to have a looksie. It could be done… maybe. The crossbar that the previous mailbox had been nailed to was too narrow for this monstrosity; the nailholes in the bottom straddled the bar with several inches to spare on either side. Hmmmm. With a platform mailed to the crossbar, and then the mailbox attached to the platform, this could work. Hopefully the neighbors just won’t notice that their mailbox would now be cowering in the shadow of mine.

I went back to the garage to scavenge. Of course I didn’t have any wood scraps the right size. But I did have some plywood that could be cut to size. And because I’d already taken down and totally dented the other mailbox I am woman, hear me roar, you betcha I grabbed a saw and cut myself the most gorgeous mailbox platform in the history of humankind. It only took me a couple of hours minutes. A few more minutes to find the can of nails, and I was in business.

Platform nailed to crossbar? Check. Mailbox positioned on platform? Check. Nails pounded through mailbox into platform piece? Check. Now the moment of truth… grab mailbox… give a good pull… shake it a little… still attached? Check!

All that was left was The Ritual Of The Sticky Reflective Letters And Numbers. I put my house number on the front, centered as best I could manage, given that the numbers are about two inches tall and the face of the mailbox is about the size of my car. Then I casually checked out the format of my neighbors’ information on the side of their box… first initial, last name, street address. Okay. I can do that, and perhaps with some uniformity as a gesture of goodwill and an attempt to blend in, they won’t laugh so much when they see what I’ve done. First initial… last name… street number again… street name. Done! A quick check of my remaining letters ruled out appending the entire Constitution to the remaining space.

I stepped back to admire my handiwork. Not bad. And thank God, there’s a family down the road who recently took down their perfectly serviceable mailbox in favor of something that looks like a shellacked cat. It may still be a mailbox of some sort, I’m not sure… but there are in fact dangling paws and a tail and–the crowning touch–a large, leering orange head. I may have to walk down there and thank these folks for saving me from having the most obnoxious mailbox on the street.


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