It was a close call, and I had to be creative with the delivery. What with all of the things coming my way today, it was just barely manageable. And, that’s overstating it a bit, as I can manage just fine, but I do so enjoy it practically all the time, every day. It’s just that I apparently feel things quite intensely, and I agree with Jewel, that I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way.
So I break down sobbing sometimes just as easily as I laugh out loud, puttering around in my mail truck each day, and I don’t really mind it. It is all too good, not to be true.
Today? “I laughed, I cried; it was better than Cats” (which I have seen, by the way, on Broadway, and it was a great show). This is better, because it is real; and yes I did laugh and cry.
I am on the longest route in the station, “Joy”, and it is a Monday with a lot of mail. And I know I am going to go retrieve an hour of the end of route “Prayer” when I am done with this one, and I am halfway into a long work day. It’s barely 1:30 p.m. and C.W., the radio announcer, has just said, “And now, here is something to cleanse your palate.” Well, I’m laughing out loud, in front of hundreds of people (only their mail, actually) hearing that. I am amazed and comforted and so happy to hear it and now I’m smiling.
And then the song begins and I am still smiling. But I begin to feel that music, deeply (as I would all day), and I am not smiling, yet I am filled with joy and it is going out from me. Tears are coming, and I am turning from 70th onto Furnberg, a cul-de-sac. I know that I will make that circle which is also a small parking area for Furnberg Park (and I know that this park borders Ray’s Farm), and I know that I will then go back onto 70th for two houses and then turn right onto a certain stretch of Plum Drive which is precisely the point when I long ago named this route “Joy”.
I am feeling all of that and this song is touching me intimately and I am sobbing as I am approaching the last house in the cul-de-sac, and I am wondering if the owner will be waiting as he usually is, and I do see him come from his house as I’m arcing around the curve. Here’s the mail for the house before, and I am pulling open the box lid and there goes that mail, and I am moving toward that last house. He has three small envelopes with barcodes on them, plus quite a few magazines and more letters than most other addresses so I am slowing down. My right foot is off the pedal and sort of hanging halfway out my open door, and my left foot is near the brake. I am allowing only vapors, really, to power all of this. They are the vapors of the refined remains of creatures unknown to any of us, fossil fuel, feeding this engine. These mere molecules are so packed with energy that when they are pumped from the tank, through a tube, and into the cylinders after being mixed with some oxygen—oxygen from the same air that we all breathe, must breathe to stay alive—and they encounter a tiny spark, that gaseous mix explodes! and presses a piston down, turning a crank, connected to a drive shaft, that is connected to a differential (with limited slip). Those oil-encased gears are turning an axle that is attached to a wheel covered by a tire.
The idle speed alone of this combustion engine is moving a ton of mail and parcels from across the planet, and it is moving another ton of this vehicle and my entire body through space as I am rifling through the letters for this one address.
I think this is all true at least, because I cannot see any of it. My tears are distorting the light, refracting it into rays of rosemary. The soft breeze from the farm is full of the glory of the wild grasses growing again after winter’s slow slumber. I feel the fresh wind on my arms and I can feel the evaporative cooling effect as it touches my tears, but still they are flowing.
I am at that last house of the curve now, before the turn, and he is waiting. I am cheerful as I comment on the weather, and I am turned away from him slightly. He is on my right, and I am turned to the left to gather all of his mail, and I have scanned his three padded envelopes and waited for the beep that means the data have been uploaded, out there somewhere. The envelopes have now been tracked as delivered, and the bits of data for them are splitting multiple ways. One set goes global, another stays local, and another comes back right here, just a few meters from me, and shows this person who lives here that he does indeed have the parcels within reach as his phone or computer dings with a notification. He is very close to me, just outside my truck and I am trying to greet him appropriately and yet I cannot see anything really, and I imagine my face is a mess. Tears are mixed with ink and grime, they must be, so I am raising all of his mail directly between him and me, blocking the line of sight as I hand it all to him with a final friendly word.
I have done it. I was creative with this delivery, had to be this time, as I could not answer his questions if he had seen my face and asked.
I’d have been caught, and then I’d have to tell him everything . . .
Photograph “Outgoing” © 2018 Timothy Waugh