Saturday, April 24, 2021

A Dog's Eye: Letterbox Bomb

I need to confess, right off the bat, that I only used the word 'bomb' to grab your attention. Although I do have experience with letterbox bombs during my wayward and rebellious teenage years, I actually want to share with you some reflections arising from letterbox drops. I'm not sure if that's the official name for what I was doing for four hours this morning, but that's what we'll go with.

If you've spent time walking around delivery advertising materials to people's letterboxes, or, as in my case today, addressed mail from the local member of parliament, or if you've worked as a postie, then the following observations will certainly ring a bell. If not, then perhaps it will give you some insight into the trickiness of what would appear to be a very straightforward task.

Here are the three major problems which arise during a letterbox drop.

  1. Corner blocks. If I told you that three adjacent houses on one street could be numbered 14, 65 & 9 you might be surprised unless you live in a house so numbered. When I arrived at a house on a corner, I had to figure out which street it belonged to. The letters in my hand were all personally addressed and in order, so the confusion caused by houses on corners resulted in quite a bit of extra investigative walking and backtracking. Adding to my befuddlement this morning was my uncertainty about which street I was in and where that street started and ended. You know any street called a Circuit is going to present some challenges. I was literally going aorund in circles.

  1. Letterboxes. A few houses had no letterbox at all which sent a very clear message. Many letterboxes contained the warning not to insert advertising material which is something I always respect. Today's letter box drop was important information, not advertising. Most letterboxes were welcoming, at least superficially. I consider the ultimate invitation to be an appropriately sized open slot. However, such accommodation is not so common, especially with modern homes. Most of the houses I delivered to were built relatively recently and the letterboxes, like the homes behind them, are quite stylish. Good looking they may be, but user friendly they are not: the majority were not easy to access. The main problem was the covered slot which unless you have a thick letter or a wad of letters can't be pushed open by paper. You need to use two hands, and as my left hand was full of folded letters, this proved quite awkward. Many other boxes had a flap which needed to be lifted to reveal the slot which was also tricky. Letterboxes hidden behind frontyard shrubbery or positioned at ground level also negatively impacted efficient delivery. Despite these difficulties, I can happily report only spilling my lollies once.

  1. Dogs. The burbs should be and generally are very quiet and peaceful. With only local traffic and most people either out or settled comfortably within the air conditioned walls of their modern homes, the hot air is silent apart from bird song and the occasional waft of music or conversation. It's quiet, that is, until you walk past and the dog goes off. Darwin has the highest per capita dog ownership of any Australian city or town. The dogs in Darwin are all contained behind fences. I'm not frightened of dogs and felt no threat from even the larger and more vicious looking beasts. They couldn't have got me even if they wanted to, so I felt safe. There was one exception: a scary little Daschund escaped its domestic confines, yapped growled at me, chasing me down the street for a few metres until it was satisfied I wasn't going to invade it's property. Most of the dogs will do that. They'll just bark at you until you have passed their territory. The problem is one dog barking sets off all of the other dogs, and not all of these vociferous canines know how to control themselves.
Despite these challenges, the irritating noise of barking dogs, and the heat, I enjoyed my work/walk. I said G'day to a few people, chatted with one lady about the crazy numbering, admired the well manicured gardens, appreciated the sleek architecture of the houses and I prayed for the names on the letters, for the people who live in those homes. I prayed for them, although I don't know them and will probably never meet them. I thanked God for the work and for the exercise.

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