One day in January, as I was coming back from fascia therapy, still relaxed and groggy from my session, it started snowing. I put on my hood and bended my head to protect my glasses. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a truck on the other side of the street but did not think anything of it. As I unlocked my door, my gaze fell on my – ever so tiny – sidewalk. There was dirt, black pieces of something I couldn’t define; the stone of my façade had a black trail I hadn’t noticed before. There was no point in cleaning it right then, I’d wait until it had dried. I stepped in and without even taking my coat off, started gluing a chair leg that had broken after my 5-year-old’s last balancing act (lesson learned). My phone rang. It was my neighbour.
– Are you home?
– I just got in.
– If you step outside and look on your left, you’ll see a car being towed. It’s the car that hit your façade.
I ran outside, had a quick look at my house and realised some bricks had been scratched. I ran to the tow truck. The car was a postal service car, no mailman to be seen. I asked the tow truck driver where I could find him. “He had to leave. I was told a supervisor is on his way.”
I stepped back to my house and took many pictures. The damage was superficial and purely cosmetic. Had it hit my front door or destroyed my wall, it would have been another story. Within minutes, another postal service car pulled over. After a quick talk with the team leader, I understood the mailman was delivering something when the car’s handbrake had somehow released; the car had slid and ended in my wall.
– Luckily, there was no oncoming car nor say a child on the sidewalk.
I agreed with him. I also felt lucky not to have been in the house. I usually sit in my front room, I would have had the scare of my life as, to my neighbour’s accounts, the impact was so violent, it shook their houses too.
The next day, as promised, another team leader came to my house and we filled out the insurance papers. She was a lovely lady and we chatted a bit. That is how I learned my mailman was in fact new to the job. My heart sank. I suddenly was him and could feel what he felt when it happened. I imagined how he would feel every time he’d deliver my mail.
I watched out for him the next day but it’s only two days later that I heard my mailbox’s clatter and saw the red uniform pass my window. I quickly put on shoes and ran after him. I caught up a few houses down the road.
– Excuse me. Sir?
He turned around and smiled. He seemed so nice.
– Are you the mailman who’s car drove into a façade?
– I’m the owner of the house.
His face dropped and I hastily added:
– I just wanted to let you know I am not angry. It was an accident, nobody got hurt. The damage is minimal. That is what insurances are for.
I felt as relieved as he did. He thanked me. I asked if he was OK. He was, he explained what had happened, how he didn’t understand how the handbrake got loose.
– I just wanted you to know that you don’t have to feel bad every time you walk past my house.
– Thank you so much.
I felt elated as I walked away. Had this happened at some other time, I might have dropped to the floor, howling at the skies: “Why, oh, why do you do this to me?! Can’t I get a break?! Whyyyyyyy ?!” but I was not in that kind of place.
From then on, every time I’d see him, my mailman would greet me, all smiles. If he delivered something, we’d do the typical polite word-dance:
– How are you?
– Very well, thank you. And you?
– Very well, thank you.
– Have a nice one.
– You too!
And then, a few weeks ago, he wasn’t there anymore. Suddenly there was a mailwoman. I’d heard she was his replacement and I hoped it meant it was temporary and that he hadn’t lost his job.
Two weeks ago, as we were coming home with my daughter, a postal service van passed us and the driver honked its horn. As I looked up, he waved enthusiastically and we waved back, smiling. Our mailman was back.
Yesterday was an off day. I got woken up at 5 am by a flare up. After I had dragged myself back from school, I crawled into bed and dozed off briefly. I woke up but did not get up until the doorbell rang. Delivery. As I opened the door, my mailman’s smile faded away and got replaced by a look of concern:
– I am sorry to bother you.
– Not at all.
It is only when he left that I saw my face in the mirror. For someone who saw me almost every day, there was no doubt I was sick.
– It is just a bad day.
– I hope you get well soon.
– Thank you.
Today is a better day. When he rang to deliver the second part of my order, I knew I looked better. When he saw me, his eyes smiled.
– How are you today? All better?
– I’m better today, thank you. It varies from one day to the next.
– Oh… You take care.
– I will, thank you. How about you?
– Everything good, thank you.
As I closed the door, I felt safe. My mailman sees me.