One of my early childhood dreams was to be a mailman. I say “mailman” because when I was a kid, women were busy being housewives. We did not have “carriers”; we had “men.”
To this day, I can’t explain my attraction to this career path, but if I were to guess, it was probably all of the “hello, how ya doings?” Everyone loved to see him heading down the street.
What was not to love? He was the bearer of cards celebrating special occasions, letters from loved ones, and an occasional check. A celebrity every day.
Don’t get me started on the idle chitchat with folks on the route or an unplanned life-saving event due to mail piling up and actually noticing. I do this now for free.
We’re not going to discuss the bills; they were a given.
I was probably deterred by the rain, snow, and sleet motto, only to find out when writing this essay that it was all a LIE.
“The U.S. Postal Service has no official motto. Nope, it’s not this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” But we certainly appreciate the sentiment.“US Postal Service
No doubt I heard “gloom of night” and said, “I’m out!”
Anyway, fast forward to yesterday when I went to the post office to mail a package containing a book. The book recipient informed me of a book rate that cuts the shipping cost. Who knew? Not me.
However, I was not informed then that an FBI-like interrogation went along with using this discounted rate. Folks, there is always a damn price to pay!
As always, I waited in line for the lone over-worked employee to address me.
Me: I want to mail this box at the book rate, please.
Overworked employee: Is there a book in the box?
OE: Is there anything else in the box?
OE: Is there a card in the box?
OE: A letter?
Me: Um, no.
Me: There’snothing else in the box.
OE: Ok, fine. Can I get you anything else?
Me: Yes, can I get two books of Christmas stamps?
OE: Which ones?
Me: Not the religious ones, the other ones.
OE: The Elves or the Otters?
Me: One of each, please.
OE: You know they’re brown?
OE: The Elves.
Me: (Looking at the stamps.) They’re Elves.
OE: Yeah, but they’re brown.
Me: Elves aren’t real.
OE: I know; I’m just saying they’re brown.
Me: So are the Otters.
I got my tracking receipt, turned around to leave, looked into the dead stares of a long line of people, and went my merry way. What in the what?
Enjoy the Ride!
Sure, you turned out pretty good, but is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?
The 70’s were a great time to be a kid. We played outside from sun up to sun down using dare I say our imaginations. We put on shows, had carnivals, jumped rope, played house, tag, freedom and manhunt for hours on end. We rode our bikes, skated, hula-hooped, hop scotched and bottle capped our days away without a care in the world. We played stick ball, wiffle ball, kick ball and dodge ball without ever being short a player. Kids were everywhere! Most households had 5 or more kids which gave us an abundance of able bodies. We entertained ourselves and lived to talk about it.
I grew up with Watergate and a whole new meaning to drinking Kool-Aide after the Jim Jones fiasco. I was around for the Iran Hostage crisis, gas rationing and the bombing at the MunichWinter Olympics. Bad things were happening, but we weren’t consumed by them…we were busy being kids.
I had the pleasure of sporting a crocheted poncho, POW bracelets, mood rings, Dr. Sholl’s & clogs. I was introduced to Rock, Disco & Punk all in one decade. I loved watching Kojak with my dad, Happy Days, Lavern & Shirley & Eight Is Enough with my friends and The Carol Burnet show with my mom and sisters. Without sounding like a fossil, things were simple.
I walked to school, came home for lunch, did homework without help and presented projects that I created from things around the house. There wasn’t an overkill of competitiveness surrounding me. My parents didn’t drive us anywhere …. ever and our weekends weren’t consumed with sitting on a field, they were spent with family. What the hell happened?
I’m not sure how we survived, but we did. We didn’t use seat belts and there were no air bags. Our homes were not child poof in any way, but I never recall anyone being electrocuted. We played in the mud and on rusted swing sets, without ever getting a life threatening illness or injury. Even our toys weren’t safe! We could buy sizzling snakes, fire crackers and cherry bombs at the five & dime and use matches to set them off. No bubble wrap for us…we were real kids.
When I think back at the amount of freedom I had as a kid, I wonder if my parents would be reported to the authorities by today’s standards. Having faith & trust in our kids is unacceptable today. I wouldn’t change a thing about my childhood, it made me who I am today.
As for my own kids, I wish they had the pleasure of experiencing the freedom I had as a child. No worries, no pressures, just kids being kids as they Enjoy the Ride!