Friday, January 23, 2009

Tom Versus The Snowplow

Wild Plants and Wooly Bears

I take eye drops for a medical condition. Since my drug store is about 20 miles away, it makes sense for me to have them send me my prescriptions, rather than to drive. Also, as a freelance writer, my different accounts send my paychecks in the mail. These two items alone should serve to illustrate how important uninterrupted mail service has become to me.

But the guy who plows our road does not understand this. If he did, he might refrain from slamming his plow blade into my mailbox with such marvelous regularity. This has become such a common occurrence that I have taken steps to thwart this destroyer of my link to the outside world.

First, instead of the standard, cedar post, I managed to appropriate a section of telephone pole…this being one that a speeding driver snapped in two in front of my place. The pole has withstood several passing glances, but I’m told that if the plow were to hit it dead-on, it would snap like a twig. But thus far, the mailbox itself, rather than the pole, remains the center of this bully’s attention.

As per the mailbox, the standard method of nailing a rectangular board to the top of the post and then affixing the box to the board, has failed miserably. The plow rips both mailbox and board from the post, usually crumpling the mailbox beyond repair. So I devised a system whereby the mailbox simply flies off the post and lands in the snowbank. Damage is usually limited to minor dents, the kind that I’m able to pop out or bend back into place.

My system, a simple one, requires two, large nails on each side of the post and a length of strong twine. I sit the mailbox on the post and tie it down using the twine and the two nails. When the plow smacks the box, the twine breaks and instead of sustaining the entire shock, much of the energy dissipates as the mailbox pops off the post.

This has its drawbacks, though. Often, the door flies open, strewing mail (and yes, I have found soaking wet paychecks buried in the snow) hither and yon. I don’t quite know what other steps to take. It seems quite certain that we, the snowplow guy and I, have an understanding. He tries his best to destroy my mailbox and contents, and I try to thwart him. So far, he has the upper hand.

I dream of new and sinister methods to meet the snowplow man’s challenge. I wouldn’t dare employ these, because they are probably illegal. But it helps me to at least entertain the thought. One of my ideas is to use a steel post and steel mailbox. This would require a visit to the local machine shop, in order to have the thing made. If the solid metal post were planted deep enough, and frozen in, I can imagine that it would do a good bit of damage to the plow. But as I said, I just don’t dare go that far.

Another dream entails a mailbox on a pivot. This would resemble the rigs that knight trainees used to learn how to joust. If the knight doesn’t duck in time, the arm spins around and a big, heavy ball smacks him in the snout, dismounting him. I can see, in my mind’s eye, a big, metal ball, nailing the plow truck and sending it into the ditch. But again, I would never do this. It’s nice to imagine, though.

Before anyone says, “But plows can’t avoid hitting mailboxes…there’s nothing they can do,” let me point out that my mailbox stands on a straight section of road. Other mailboxes, some quite ancient, are in a similar position and they never, ever, get smacked.

I’m perfectly convinced that this is purposeful. He knows that I know that he knows that I know.

1 comment:

  1. I gentleman I know had a similar problem, not a snowplow but a kid with a wooden baseball bat in the back of a pick-up truck. This gentleman decided to teach the 'batter' a lesson in physics. He purchased two mailboxes, one slightly smaller than the other so that it could not be seen when placed next to the larger one. The larger one he filled with cement. He then attached them to his mailbox post and waited. Sure enough that evening he heard the distinct roar of an un-muffled engine on an old truck and to his delight he also heard the sound of a cracking wooden bat. As the truck sped off the gentleman walked to the end of his driveway to find the broken bat lying in the road. He never had trouble with a smashed mailbox again.