The Mailmaid on the Front Lawn | Caleb Picone

I went about my usual business on the morning I had to so resentfully get out of bed. My bed tilted me up, the upper half moving upward with an airy, mechanical buzz. I stayed sitting up till I turned around and got out of bed. The next step of the routine: resetting my bed on the panel of buttons on the side. Beds that fold upward to sit you up, I have no idea why they need to do that. Despite what these manufacturers of automatic beds claim, I always need an additional five minutes before resetting it: “Set up your morning with a sit-up!” as AutoMattress Inc. Says. Unfortunately, advertising slogans don’t apply to everyone.  

Time to head downstairs. Before I even went into the kitchen, I could smell the food awaiting me. Breakfast, as usual, was already made. To welcome me out of my room and give me something to look forward to at the start of my day, my parents had the kitchen set so that my breakfast would be ready when I got up. It wasn’t anything fancy. Eggs and bacon, and some buttered toast on the side. There’s something about a basic and generic breakfast that gets me going in the morning.  

My dad came out from the hall as I finished my final slice of toast. 

“Mail’s here. Mind grabbing it for me? I have to go into my office and start my class at ten. Your moms already started her eight o’clock.” 

“Yeah, I got it.”  

I finished eating, placed my dishes in the dish receptacle, and then entered my living room. The house greeted me and informed me of the temperature and other routine information. Even though he doesn’t leave the house very often, my dad likes to know what the weather will be like outdoors, yet sometimes I wish I could turn off the monotone voice of the announcer. 

Following the notifications, I changed into my outside shoes and opened the front door. It was pleasant outside, pleasant enough to evoke memories. True nostalgia.  

Standing at the corner of our pathway and the sidewalk in front of the house was our mailmaid. The majority of our street’s mailmaids were still standing outside, patiently waiting for their residents to come outside and pick up their mail. 

In history class, I learned that people used to have things called mailboxes. Instead, someone would come around in a manually driven mail van and drop the mail in your mailbox. That’s insane. Many historians believe that as more personal cars became self-driving, the concept of human-driven delivery trucks became impractical. I’ve always been fascinated by odd traditions and norms from the past, always been interested in old technology, particularly cars that people had to operate themselves. 

I didn’t know who our mailmaid was, but she was very nice. The job was mostly female-dominated, which is why they’re called mailmaids, but a few men could also be seen standing outside. Unless something happened to them or you requested a new one, you almost always had the same mailmaid every day. Ours couldn’t be older than seventy, and her silver hair glistened in the sun against her navy jumper. On the chest of her uniform was her number: 11222.  

I stepped further outside and followed our walkway to the edge of our lawn. 

“Hello, sir,” she said cheerfully, “how are you this morning?” Despite the fact that she was probably four times my age, she always addressed me as sir.  

“Could be better. I don’t like waking up this early.”  

“Well, I’m not sure you’d make a good mailmaid if it came down to it,” she laughed jokingly. I couldn’t help but smile.  

“Here you are now,” she said. “There aren’t many pieces of mail for your address today.” She gave me the envelopes she was holding. There were three or four of them in total.  

“Thank you,” I said. “I’ll have to give these to my parents. Unless my father comes out first, I’ll see you tomorrow.”  

“That sounds delightful. By the way, could you please inform your parents of this unfortunate news? I will be retiring at the end of this summer, on August first. They claim I’m too old to be standing here. It’s quite depressing. I enjoy being outside and not cooped up in an elderly facility.” 

“I’m sure you don’t like being outside in the rain or snow during the winter. That should be a relief,” I said, slightly surprised by the news. We’ve had this mailmaid since I was ten years old. It’s been more than five years. 

“Ah, yes. I guess so. Nonetheless, it is unfortunate. But allow me to stop wasting any more of your time. Goodbye, now,” she said with a small wave and a squint-eyed smile. She started walking down the road to the end of the street, where the mailmaid van would pick her up. I was extremely disappointed. I appreciated this mailmaid. Our previous one wasn’t as friendly and didn’t want to do her job, which is probably why she was replaced after only a year, but this one did an excellent job. 

I walked back into the house and placed the mail on the dining room table. My mom was seated at the kitchen table. She had just finished her first class and was sipping her coffee. 

“Hello, dear. How are you feeling this morning?” 

“I’m fine,” I responded. 

“Your mood seems off. What’s the matter?” she asked.  

“Well, apparently I’ll have to start getting the mail more often.” 

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