Jeffrey took an interest in the mailman when he was seven years old. It was summertime and so he was free to sit by the bay window at one o’clock each day to wait for the truck, refusing to return to his toys until the mailman had visited our mailbox. He waited for three hours one Sunday before Dad told him the mailman wouldn’t be coming.
Jeffrey claimed his fascination for the mailman stemmed from a social studies lesson about the United States Postal Service. He was carefully observing the mailman each day because he was considering a career in the mail business. We told him he’d have to wait a couple years before he could career-shadow a mailman.
I happened to come home at a quarter to one on a Tuesday and saw Jeffrey marching to the mailbox with what looked like a letter in hand. We made eye contact as I pulled my bike into the driveway. He spun on his heels and walked back inside.
I found him pouring over an episode of SpongeBob like nothing had happened. Asked him about the letter. He didn’t hear me the first time, so I asked again. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about. And, could I please be quiet so that he could pay attention to SpongeBob? He didn’t observe the mailman from the bay window that day.
I found him at his post the next day. Sitting on the loveseat. Staring expectantly, through the bay window, at the mailbox.
The mail truck crept into view. A mailman with a bushy grey mustache sifted through envelopes, grabbed a few, and opened the door to the mailbox. He furrowed his brow when he looked inside. He pulled out a sheet of paper and read it. Then he looked at our house and considered it for a moment. His face was forlorn.
Jeffrey chuckled and left the room.
The next day, I announced that I would be running some errands. I could feel Jeffrey’s eyes boring into my back as I marched out the front door. It was a quarter to one and I had nowhere to go. So I rode my bike around the block.
When I came back, Jeffrey was visible through the bay window. He jumped to his feet as I approached the mailbox. I found a folded sheet of unlined paper inside. In the erratic penmanship of a second grader, Jeffrey had written:
i hate you and nobody ever loved you
yours truly, jeffrey
Jeffrey had fled his perch by the window and before I could walk the driveway the mail truck pulled up beside me. The mailman opened his mouth to say something but shut it again when he saw Jeffrey’s letter in my hand.
He said, got more hate mail for me? Well I got mail for you, too. Then, he shoved our mail in my face and drove away.
Jeffrey stopped writing him.