Small Differences : Mail Boxes

I own a mail box for the first time in my life.

We had no sooner moved into this house than a letter arrived informing us that the postal service required us to install a kerbside mail box (as opposed to one attached to the exterior wall).  I imagine this was the result of some sort of efficiency drive on the part of the postal service as the kerbside box means the postal worker does not even have to exit the mail van.  Upon receiving this communication, I looked left and right along our new street and right enough ours was the only house without a kerbside mail box.  We duly installed one within a week of moving in.  I can only assume our mail delivery person is now happier.

I  am new to this whole culture of mailboxes and cannot quite wrap my head around it.  In Britain, you have a letterbox in your front door.  The postie can then shove all your letters and even some small parcels through this flap in your door so that the mail lands safely and securely inside your house.  No risk of weather damage or theft.  The only risk was tripping over a massive pile of mail on returning from a vacation.  Here in America, on the other hand, it all seems to become quite complicated because the receptacle for the post is outside the house and is, therefore, not so secure against the elements or sticky fingers.  It would not have been a concern in our new house since we have a porch but at the rental property, on rainy days, I had to ensure that I grabbed the mail from the box as soon as it arrived otherwise it would all turn into a soggy mush of papier mache since the box attached to the side of the house allowed water to drain into it, creating a destructive puddle at the bottom.  Furthermore, because the mail is not securely deposited inside a house, there have to be all sorts of mail tampering laws in place – as I learned last November.  This means that only an authorised mail delivery person can deposit anything into anyone’s mailbox.  Furthermore, since the mail cannot simply be left to accumulate into a small mound on the other side of the door’s threshold, when travelling it becomes necessary to halt the delivery of the mail, have the postal service keep hold of it, and then resume delivery upon return.  That then becomes yet another one of those thing you need to remember to do before going on a trip.  Finally, although we paid for an installed our mailbox, it is not our property.  No.  Apparently all mailboxes are property of the United States Postal Service as that then gives them the authority to impose all of these mail tampering laws upon it.

So it is all very weird and alien but I do love having a mailbox all the same because it’s that little slice of Americana that reminds me everyday that I am now living on a different continent and am experiencing new things.