Thursday, October 30, 2008


Today was the big day. I had even thought about taking a camera along to record the historic event, but then I remembered that I would be alone and it would be dark—not exactly prime camera conditions. In any event, I was doing some mental drum rolls and trumpet fanfares as I steered from my usual 6:20 a.m. route to work and headed toward the U.S. Post Office.

Today was the day I was officially going to mail all my official paperwork in to the official state of Minnesota to get the official wheels rolling for my official January retirement. I had one envelope for the Teachers’ Retirement Association and one for the Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association: two envelopes that marked the beginning of my new life as a retired person at the end of January.

I had carefully filled everything out (going so far as to fill out practice forms first so I didn’t make mistakes on the finals). Tom and I had gone to a notary public to validate signatures on the forms. I had put in my birth and marriage certificates to verify that I was a legitimately-born person and that Tom was my real husband.

The plan? Drive up to the outdoor mail depository behind the Post Office and ceremoniously deposit the two envelopes in the receptacle while humming “I Did It My Way.” It was destined to be a time-standing-still moment.

Now I’m not superstitious. When someone says, “When your palm itches, you will come into some money,” I just laugh merrily and make a mental note to change my dishwashing detergent. And when someone warns, “If you count the number of vehicles in a funeral procession, you will soon have a death in your own family,” I wave my hand airily and say “pshaw.” And even when people say not to tickle a baby’s feet because that will cause the baby to stutter, I give their toes a little tweak anyway.

However, when I drove up to that mail receptacle to drop in my two life-changing letters, the sight of a completely trashed mailbox caused a moment of consternation. It looked like a Mack dump truck had backed into it—and then backed up and hit it again.

Mailbox (picture taken later in the day)

I racked my brain: Was there an old saying about never mailing your retirement applications in a smashed mail box or you would lose your pension in a bad economy? (Let’s see, “If a bird flies into your house, a death will occur . . . Two deaths in a community will be followed by a third . . . Never say ‘thank you’ when someone gives you a plant or it will die.”) I was pretty sure I had never heard an old saying about mangled mailboxes and retirement letters.

Picture of me taking a picture of the mailbox.

I drove around to the front of the Post Office, parked my car, and walked inside the lobby. It was quiet and dark—the main part of the Post Office wasn’t open yet. The mail slot in the lobby looked healthy and whole. I carefully opened the little door to the mail slot. I could hear cheerful voices of the graveyard-shift mail sorters coming from the room in the back. I did a little mental drum roll and a trumpet solo as I dropped the letters into the slot. I waited; nothing happened. No explosions, no screams, no sounds of the Teachers’ Retirement Fund shattering into a million pieces. I quietly closed the little door and went back out to my car.

Now it’s official, smashed mailbox or not.


Anonymous said...


j9 said...

I think you'll be okay. Congratulations on your retirement!! I love the picture of you taking a picture of the mailbox. Classy.