Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Postman NEVER Rings Twice

I miss my old mail carrier. She was a lovely woman who knew everyone on her route by name. I guess that's not such a spectacular achievement. After all, she did have our MAIL in front of her with it written all over it... I guess what's more spectacular is that she bothered. We all knew her by name, too. She always traveled with a bucket of lollipops and if the kids would run out to meet the mail truck, she would reward them with a candy treat. She knew how many kids lived in each house, too. So if only one of my kids ran out, she'd give her her treat, then add - "one for your sister, too".

When she delivered a package, she would always bundle up all of our mail for the day, too, and bring it up to the door with the package (and the appropriate amount of lollipops) and ring the bell. If we were home, we accepted the mail, the package, the treats, and a friendly greeting. If we were not home, the mail was returned to the mailbox and a nice little post-it note was placed on top of the mail, informing us that there was a "parcel at the door". It was always signed with a pleasant greeting and her name.

I guess we took her for granted.

She retired a little over a year ago. I have no idea what the new person looks like. I get other people's mail on a more regular basis than I like, causing me to wonder if other people get my mail, too.

Today I received a package. I watched the mail truck pull up and deliver the mail to my mailbox. Then the mail carrier got out of the truck and attempted to balance my package on or around my mailbox. When he failed, he put it on the ground beside the mail box and headed back for the truck. He must've thought better of it before he drove off, because he came back around, heaved a heavy sigh, and brought the package up to the front porch. He didn't ring the doorbell. When I waded out in the snow a few minutes later to pick up the mail from my box, there was no indication that he'd left a package. (Nope, I'm gonna call it a parcel. In honor of my old GOOD mail carrier...) Without any protective covering on my porch in a snow storm. Ahem.

Now I'm sure he did nothing technically wrong. He did his job.

I'm reminded of a time shortly after my sister and I had both started working at the pizza shop. I had made a silly mistake of omission and it was bothering me. She and I were out with a friend and I kept berating myself for forgetting to do this one little task that had been asked of me. Our friend said, "What are you so upset about? It's just a stupid job waiting tables at a pizza shop - it's not even a real job." My sister and I were both taken aback. It's not a career, perhaps. It's certainly nothing by which I wish to define myself. But it is most assuredly a real job. Someone is paying me to make sure that said job is carried out. ANY job can be done well or merely adequately. There is pride to be taken in a job well done, no matter how menial that job may be. I had not done my job well on that particular day, and it bothered me. It should have.

Back to the mail carrier. He did what was required of him. The old mail carrier went above and beyond. But really, how much more energy did she expend? If she was walking to my door with a parcel anyway, did it cause her extra work to carry my mail along with her? And if she had to walk said mail back to the truck, how many seconds did it take to write that post-it note and put it on my mail? Such small things! Things that really required next to no additional effort - yet they made such a big difference.

My goal for today? Go that extra mile - concentrate on the little things that make interactions special and sweet. Yeah. I think I can do that.

Maybe I'll hand out lollipops.


suebean said...

wow!! I loved this article....what a lesson to learn for all of us!! go the extra mile

beautiful illustration of just that!!
great job!!

Tammy Howard said...

Thanks, Sue!