“I don’t like him.” My mom stated this with a sense of finality, as if it was an opinion that couldn’t be swayed.
“What do you mean you don’t like him? What’s wrong with him?” Of course I had my own ideas of what was wrong with him. I secretly found him to be kind of creepy, but I didn’t want to say it and come off as judgmental. Apparently, my mother did not share the same concern.
“I just don’t like the look of him.” We were sitting in our living room when our dog’s barking alerted us that the mail had arrived. My mom turned her head sharply and watched as the mailman crossed our front lawn. “He just looks untidy, like he takes no pride in his appearance.” The mailman in question was wearing an Eagles hat,had a beard, and wore glasses. He was technically still wearing the uniform. The standard light blue button down shirt and navy pants, but he had a zip up over top and hobo gloves that added a different statement to the outfit.
“Mom, he is a mail man. What do you want him to do? Wear a suit?” My mother let out an exaggerated sigh, a sign that she was finding me to be exhausting. “Of course not, but he is in the public eye. He should at least look presentable. Whenever I see him he just looks sloppy. Shirt isn’t tucked in, and he smokes too.” My mother’s laundry list of things she found to be wrong with the mailman continued, but these weren’t any of the same reasons on why I tried to avoid him on the street.
“Growing up, our mailman always looked clean and respectable.” My mother had been living in the city for twenty-seven years and she still hadn’t given up on comparing everything to her suburban upbringing. “Yeah, and you also used to give the mail man a christmas card with a bonus. Times have changed.”
“Well, I don’t like.” With that we ended our conversation on the mailman, but my own story with him started before that.
Our neighborhood was as far north as you could get, while still being considered part of the city. It was the kind of place where you could still walk around and say hi to your neighbors, but you probably would’t. Now that I had my dog, I was out walking around the neighborhood nearly every day, which is when my encounters with the mailman began.
Typically Peanut would start annoying me around eleven and then we would finally leave the house some time around noon. The mailman doesn’t drive around in the easily recognizable truck but a black SUV and so the first time I passed by him on the street he caught me by surprise, “Hey look it’s snoopy! That’s a beagle you got there right?”
“Yeah, he’s a beagle mix. This is Peanut.” I was still a little thrown that someone had actually addressed me when the mailman started reaching through his bag, “I think I got a treat in here for you.” Suddenly, I got paranoid that the treat was actually going to be laced with poison because that’s what watching too much television does to your brain, but it would feel awkward to reject it.
“Is the dog new? I don’t think I’ve seen him on my route before.” Not only was the treat laced with poison but he was also going to throw me into his black SUV and steal my dog. “Yeah, we just recently adopted him in November.”
“Do you live around here?” Instead of giving him a definite answer I just waved towards my street and said, “Yeah, back there.” The answer didn’t seem to satisfy him though because he then asked, “Oh, what street? I cover this entire area.” It felt weird to give up such detailed information but I eventually told him. From there we parted ways and I felt confident that I would be murdered in at least a fortnight.
After that first encounter our paths kept crossing and sometimes it would just be him driving past and yelling, “SNOOPY!” Peanut didn’t seem bothered as long as he was getting fed, but he still barked at him when he came to the house and dropped off the mail; must be a dog thing. But what creeped me out was that the mailman always recognized him and I could hear him go, “Hi, Peanut!”In fairness the mailman probably didn’t realize I was cowering in my kitchen, analyzing his greetings, but now he knew which house was mine.
And not only did he know what I looked like, and where my house was, he knew personal details about me from my mail. It could be assumed that he now knew my last name and where I went to school because of the bills that kept coming in. It seemed like of a lot of information to know about a person when they still didn’t really know me at all. Especially because I didn’t even know the mailman’s first name. It was a very one sided relationship and it made me acutely uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that I started leaving the house earlier and earlier to avoid running into him.
Then there was his appearance, he really did look like a slob.