Rufus the Invincible!

I wrote this back when I had a mail carrier that came to my house. I no longer have that luxury. But the concept below still applies.


We all know that cats chase mice. Raccoons steal garbage. Monkeys eat bananas. Birds poop on heads. There are plenty of comical and stereotypical clichés that exist to crystallize the genetic nature of many animals. Take the classic: Dogs hate cats. How many old Looney Tunes cartoons featured this premise? As a kid I thought this was undoubtedly true. The first time I saw a platonic dog-cat interaction I was flabbergasted. Surely, this is an anomaly and scientists should be called in to investigate. Then I saw it again. And again. Now I know that rivalry isn’t as concrete as I used to believe. Their hatred for each other — originally conveyed as some sort of Hatfields vs. McCoys rivalry — is just a bad rap.

There is another battle of a similar nature that I think may also be more psychological than biological. The age-old Dog vs. Mailman.

My dog Rufus is the protector of the house regardless of how truly un-intimidating he is. He’s only 10 pounds and thinks he’s much more imposing of a presence than reality dictates. Please don’t tell him. We just let him go with it. While he might not be a brutish hulk of canine fury he compensates for it with his wits. For instance, he knows I don’t like blackbirds in the yard so he’s quick to chase them off — yet he leaves the other birds in peace since I like them and feed them. Smart, right?

So consider the mailman from Rufus’ eyes. Every single day this strange person comes right up to the door of my house. Thinking in dog terms, the door is a place that turns into a hole that lets people come in where they usually scratch behind his ears and give out snacks. Indeed, people Rufus likes come through at that very spot.

But then there’s this person with the big bag…he/she is never allowed entrance. Every day they try and every day they fail. There must be a reason. Simple dog logic points to the fact that they must not be invited. And if they’re not invited, then they’re not supposed to be around. And after quickly going through those steps in his mind, it just makes sense to Rufus that this person is villainous. Thus, they are an enemy. And enemies get barked at. They get driven away. It’s Rufus’ job to do this.

I wonder if this is how all dogs view mailmen; a mysterious figure always getting right up to the door but never once being allowed access. If so, our wonderful guardians of the gate are getting a bad reputation when we should be praising them for clearly understanding the dynamics of people who are “welcome” and those who are “not.” To be clear I’m sure my mailman is a wonderful person and we would have a great conversation over tea, but Rufus doesn’t know what Earl Grey is. He just knows what to do when it seems like something or someone is not invited and for that I say good boy.

 

Rufus the Invincible

Rufus the Invincible

 

Rufus on Guard

Rufus on Guard

Mail Performance Issues

I’m no home owner. That’s for real adults. I rent. Sadly, my house isn’t exactly a mansion, but I like it. It doesn’t even have a driveway, but I still like it. I like it so much that I’ve lived there (or I guess I should say here) for two years now. The house on one side of me, it has a driveway. And the house on the other side of me is on the corner. They don’t have a driveway either, but that’s not a problem for them with their corner spot. When they park their car they either park on the side or hop their car up the curb and park in their yard. Classy, I know. My options are a bit more limited. I have no choice but to park on the street. I refuse to park in the yard. Sorry folks, just not my style. My mailbox is also right there on the street. Little did I know that my standard street parking protocol would wreak havoc on my mail carrier’s livelihood.

Because my car ends up being sort of in the way, the mail carrier can’t drive right through to my mailbox to pop in my mail. What’s the solution? Well, you would think that maybe said mail carrier would go just a little above and beyond the call of duty (or what used to be called doing their job), park their mail truck, and walk the maybe 4 feet to my mailbox. You would think this and you would be wrong.

Instead, the solution has been to simply stop delivering my mail. The mail carrier’s ridiculous answer to this equally ridiculous predicament would have me parking up the road on the next corner and walking back to my house rather than parking right in front of my house. So as to free up a straight line for her to zoom in her mail truck. Yeah. Right.

OK, so no home delivery. That’s okay. I’ve come to terms with this and rented a PO Box. It’s the only choice if I ever want to, you know, get my mail. I could do without bills of course, but letters from loved ones, online purchases, those I don’t mind actually receiving. Call me crazy but getting some of my mail is sort of a big deal to me.

I’ve done a good job of letting people know not to do something as audacious as mailing something to my house, but every once in a while it does happen. Things slip through. When it does happen, rather than (again) getting out of the truck and going the approximately 4 feet it takes to put the item in my mailbox or—gasp!—bringing it up to my doorstep which is not that much further from the mailbox or even sticking it in, say, the PO Box they know I own (because I’m at the post office ALL the freakin’ time) the mail carrier marks it undeliverable and the item gets returned to sender.

Again, bills, those can go back to the sender any old day. Like I care. But it never happens with them. Of course not. The only times it has happened is with pretty important items. Figures, right?

When I eventually find out about it, the same, simple question rolls through my head, and out of my mouth: WTF? I have no idea why the carrier avoids my mailbox like the plague. It’s not like we’ve had words. And I’ve seen her deliver, on foot no less, to other houses, but not mine. It can’t be some slow burning personal vendetta either because I’ve never even met her. So WTF? I have a perfectly good mailbox just sitting there as it should, just waiting for mail to be delivered. Plus…PLUS, I have a perfectly good PO Box for extra insurance, but even with that in place I’m never truly guaranteed of getting my mail.  I’m beginning to get a complex if truth be told.

Everyone INSIDE the post office is great (again, I know this because I deal with them on a daily basis, no exaggeration). The carrier? Anything but. I have my own real life Newman making decisions for me on what’s deliver-worthy and what’s not.

This letter from the school system? Doesn’t look important and the mailbox is so, sooo far away. Toss it. An elegant invitation to a high-brow event?  Nahh, she couldn’t be possibly interested in that. Send it back.  But this $10 coupon for Depends? Oh, she’s gonna want to see this one. Let it through.

Ahh, small town life. It never ceases to amaze.

no mail for you