I’ll cut to the chase, the post office wins. But let me tell you the (long) story.
Earlier this month, my neighborhood received the second-largest snowfall in local recorded history: 28 inches over two+ days. My new snowblower came in extremely handy – I am so happy to have it. But they do have their limits.
Most northerners know that snow clearing is a two-part process. You first clear the snow that nature provides, then you clear the giant five-foot snow wall that the city snowplow provides at the end of your driveway. Now, I’m not complaining. Plowed streets are important, and snow walls are just an inconvenient by-product of having passable streets.
You can try leaving the wall, but unless you drive a Hummer that can break through it, that doesn’t work so well. And if your vehicle does manage to break through it, a large speed bump or ramp is created at the end of your driveway, which tends to launch one skyward upon exit for the rest of the winter. (I know, I’ve done that.)
So after the storm, I cleared my driveway (several times), and the snow wall. That left the mailbox, which sits on a post at the edge of my property facing the street. Only the top of the box was peeking out of the aforementioned snow plow wall. I was too tired to clear it that day, so I left it until the next day. Most northerners know that the cold comes after a snowfall. I know this, too, but my faith in my new snowblower was complete. I thought it could tackle anything.
Apparently, it can’t tackle a five-foot snow plow wall that has cemented together overnight in sub-zero temperatures. After a vain attempt with the snowblower, I tackled it with a plastic shovel. Ha. Silly me.
After another day to regroup, and with no mail delivery because the mailman couldn’t drive his truck directly up to my mailbox, I got the bright idea to use a metal shovel. I have a garden spade, so I attacked the wall on a 20-below-with-windchill day. I managed to clear ten feet in from the road to the box, and about five feet up to the bottom of the mail box. Fifty square feet of clearing snow cement was enough for me. Although I knew the mailman probably couldn’t fit his truck in there, surely, he could tell a clearing attempt had been made and he could take three steps out of his truck to reach my box and deliver my mail. I had Christmas cards to send, so I plopped them in the box and put up the flag.
NOT. Those Christmas cards stayed in their lonely box for two days. I gave up and dropped them in a postbox at a local grocery store. Then, the next day, mail somehow made its way into my box. Much rejoicing ensued. But it was short-lived because it stopped after that. A few days later, I made a foray to the local post office to see if I could collect my mail there, and they informed me that my mail is handled by a more distant post office. So I drove there and told the female clerk my problem. I was pleasant enough, but I made it clear that there was no way I could clear any more of the cement snow than I already had.
After leaving me standing at the counter for ten minutes, she came back with a pile of mail and began sorting through it, taking out only the mail in my name. I let her know that mail for three other people comes to my house (my roommate’s mail and my parents’ mail). The clerk chewed me out for not telling her that in the first place, saying something like I’m lucky she brought all the mail to the counter; otherwise she would have had to go back wherever she had been for ten minutes to get the rest. I explained to her that I am not familiar with the process, but besides, what’s the big deal? She had the mail right there. She was chewing me out over something that didn’t happen.
The clerk did not appreciate my astute observation. She wouldn’t give me the other people’s mail even though the clerk working next to her said I could have it. I then told her I had power-of-attorney for my parents, so that she needed to at least give me their mail. So she did, but she wouldn’t give me my roommate’s mail. She said my roommate would have to come there in person and pick it up.
After exposure to the postal clerk’s nasty attitude, I returned home swearing war on the postal service, and to never bust my butt to clear any more snow in front of my mailbox. Ever.
My roommate has no car, so the next day I drove her to the distant post office. This clerk, who was much more reasonable, said there was no mail for us – it must be out on the truck for another delivery attempt. So we went home, empty-handed. Did we get mail delivered that day? No.
The next day (today), I’m lying in my cozy bed on a Sunday morning, hazily coming to consciousness, when I hear a snowplow go by. You know what that means, another snow wall. I rise and pull on my snowpants and jacket over my pajamas, and decide to have at it with the snowblower before the wall has a chance to settle into cement. The thermometer says 13 below, but the wind says it’s more like 36 below.
The plow wall is only about two feet high this time. My snowblower is handling it fine, but my hands are getting cold, despite two pairs of gloves covering them. I contemplate stopping and going back in the house to warm them, but that would mean driving the snowblower at least 30 feet back to my garage so I could plug it in to restart it. That seems like too much extra work, and I’m on a roll, so I just bang my hands together to encourage blood flow and keep working.
I clear my driveway, then I look at the mailbox. The plow has pushed enough cement, er . . snow, out of the way that a person could actually clear a truck-sized spot in front of the mailbox if they had the inclination.
Conceding defeat in my war with the postal service, I decide to go for it. Using a combination of the garden spade and the snowblower, I clear what darned well better be a large enough space for the mailman’s #$$%%$#& truck. My hands are getting numb, but they still function on the controls, so I just swing them around to get the blood flowing and keep going.
After 45 minutes outside, I go back inside, feeling pleased with the accomplishment — that is, until my fingers start warming up and I take off my gloves. Now, I’m no stranger to cold hands. I don’t know if it has to do with the metal controls on the blower, but this is a new kind of cold.
The tip of my middle finger on my left hand is white. If digits could scream, each one would be emitting a high shrill as the blood starts circulating again. I walk around the mudroom, bare hands in the air, breathing like I’m in a Lamaze Class. My dog is so concerned, he starts howling. Eventually, my wobbly legs suggest that I sit down. The pain is so intense, if I had eaten breakfast that morning, it would have been all over the floor. I put my head between my knees, hands still raised to slow the blood and the pain, and try not to faint.
This pain is only rivaled by the feeling of my son’s head repeatedly jamming into my inner hip during his trip down the birth canal several years ago. The dog calms down, the white tip of my finger turns pink. My hands function well enough for me to remove my boots and outer clothing.
I go lay on the couch in my pajamas, my face white as a wall of newly plowed snow, but at least the postman has no excuse now not to deliver the mail.