Not Especially Glamorous

Not Especially Glamorous

A Story by terranova

A mail carrier finds the work treacherous


Being a mailman was not all glamour. Even so, John couldn’t decide if he liked it or hated it.

He was outside, that was true, and that was good. He was walking, that was good, too. The pay was good, real good, even though he had to work until he finished, but the pay made up for it. Even though he had a boss and even though he had to be at work at a specific time and even though he was expected not to make any mistakes, he still felt a certain freedom that was unlike any job he ever had before and that was also good.

It was cold, though, hellishly cold, maybe ten degrees, maybe less. He hated that. But it wouldn’t always be like that. Not soon enough the temperature would change would become more bearable, but not soon enough, not today. Normally, in weather such as this he would be moving as fast as he could, increasing his body heat from the shear effort of energetic movement. However, the mail was slowing him down. He had to stop often just to warm his fingers. He had gloves, but they were stuck in his pockets because he wasn’t adept at fingering through the mail with gloves on his hands.

Some of the people were mean, too. Like the old woman who reported him for cursing on her steps and using ‘the Lord’s name in vain’ after he said a few things Jesus might not have liked. Jesus might have laughed though, because John was sprawled out at the bottom of some old, slanted, ice covered stairs with a handful of mail scattered in the snow around him. Generally they were nice. At least, John wanted to believe that they were nice. Right now, however, he was beginning to second guess that opinion.

Right now, John needed a bathroom. With each of the last dozen or so houses his need had gotten progressively worse. Each of the last ten houses had a door bell or door knocker that was used, rung a couple times or knocked a couple times, but nobody answered, nobody came to the door, nobody seemed to be home. John found that barely believable, especially on a cold, cold day such as this. In fact he was almost positive that someone about seven houses back had peeked out the window at him.

John reasoned that no one was coming to the door because he wasn’t wearing the typical mail carrier’s uniform. Since he was new, all he had was a hat, a hat that was hidden under his parka hood. Even with the bag and the handful of letters he probably didn’t look anything like the person they usually saw delivering their mail and who would want to open their door to an imposter on a day such as this.

So, John trudged on, hoping, begging, praying, pleading for someone, anyone to open their door and let him inside for just a few minutes, long enough to get a little warmth, but more importantly, long enough to use the bathroom. It was getting serious.

Three more houses and three more doorbells and three more deaf ears and blind eyes. It was getting so that John had all he could do just to hold the letters and then fumble through them, pulling out those that needed to be delivered at the particular house he was walking toward. He knew he couldn’t hold on much longer, but he was more than a mile from his car and more than a mile from the nearest gas station, restaurant or even deep woods.

 “You probably gonna envy me,” the regular carrier said during the training. “But I ain’t gonna be working around Christmas. It’s the worst. It’s too damn cold and they’s too damn much mail. This is still a good route though, don’t get me wrong. I love this route. It’s the best. I know you done one of them downtown routes last week. Anybody scream at you?"


“Probably ‘cause you’re new. You get one of them routes as your regular, you gonna hate it after a couple months. Them business people always complaining. Either you too early or you too late or you got the wrong mail. It’s always something with them.

“These people, you deliver the wrong mail, they hardly say anything. They don’t care. They understand. Everybody knows everybody so you deliver wrong, they gonna fix it for you. They nice people. You gotta go, and believe me, it gonna happen, you just start ringin’ them bells. Soon enough somebody gonna let you in. Just clean up or the man gonna be talkin’ to you.”

John was heading for the next house, not looking for the mailbox, just looking for the doorbell, wondering if maybe he should try opening the door if nobody answered, but he didn’t get that far.

Suddenly, he no longer had the strength to hold on anymore. Suddenly, he realized he might be looking for another job tomorrow. Suddenly he realized that maybe he wanted to be looking for another job tomorrow, because it felt good, very, very good. The warm liquid ran down his legs, warming them so that he looked like he might be spontaneously combusting, and that felt good too, at least for a few minutes. Then his pants started freezing. Stiffly he walked on wondering if anyone would notice the yellow trail behind him, but not really caring.

As he walked, half heartedly sorting through the mail, half heartedly trudging up to each house, he started making his plans. This was not going to be his last day delivering the mail, if he could help it; but it would be his last winter.

© 2012 terranova

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This is a great story. I have a greater empathy for mail carriers now. My bladder almost burst before he ran out of strength.

Consider adding something to your closing 'it would be his last winter.' and 'even though he had to work until he finished' above.

Have you read it aloud? Doing so might give you some clues to a couple of things you might consider editing.

However, a great story and well written. Thank you for sharing it with us.


Posted 8 Years Ago

Good insight into this poor mailman. Here in Texas there's not that kind of problem; it's never that cold and the mailman has his own van. But I could really feel for John.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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2 Reviews
Added on September 26, 2012
Last Updated on September 26, 2012
Tags: mail, mail carrier, winter