But I prefer to think of him as my personal Clint Eastwood.
I don’t run into him much, maybe once a month. At first, I notice the white clunker, with the profile of a blue eagle plastered onto its side panel. Considering that most of the time, it’s a complete clusterfuck on my street, I usually see his car parked in the handicap spot, at the end of the block.
“How ever does he manage to not get cold? or hot?” I study the missing doors and the rusty metal of the vehicle. Zero isolation in that car.
Shit! I can’t even call it that: “a car”. It’s more like a golf cart, really; and I’ve often wondered whose genius idea it was to have the most important and the most underpaid government workers riding around in those things.
And those uniforms! Can’t some company get a better handle on the tailoring of that seemingly itchy baby- and navy-blue getup? Sometimes, I’ll watch some other skinny postman drudging a metal basket filled with mail through a block (but not my block!), and I feel sorry for the guy.
But not this one! My guy — is proud. Methodically, he returns to his little postal truck and grabs only as much mail as he can carry. He approaches each house with the respectful knowledge of its property; the habits, the characters of its residents. He must know all the local dogs and learn the manners of the cats basking on our lawns, porches or window sills. And even with the wild tenants, he must be well-acquainted: the curious raccoons, the badass skunks; the hooligan porcupines and the bullies that are the local coyotes. (But only when they’re in packs, of course. Alone, they are pathetic.) Yet, I imagine he navigates their territories with an even pace and a calm demeanor. They live here and have done so with more sensible behavior than the humankind. And even though he is not at their service, he knows to respect their rules.
Because he is my personal Clint Eastwood, and that man — never loses his good graces.
There is an abandoned house in the middle of my block. Or, so I thought. I thought that surely something sad must’ve happened to this house, leaving it to be occupied by the local homeless cats and runaway teens. But then again, the front yard of it is so overwhelmed by weeds, that only a wild thing cat navigate through it. And yet, I see him, sometimes — my quiet hero of methodical existence, my occasional man of the hour — and he come around to the side fence and hurls a tied bundle of mail to the doormat. I guess the house is not abandoned after all, but it still must have some sad stories to tell.
To my building, the man usually arrives toward the later part of the afternoon. The Hollywood Postal Station is in the same zip code as this block, but by the time he leaves, all the surrounding streets turn into a disaster of screeching, honking, smoking metal. Yet, he endures — my bearer of good news and deliverer of late notices, my confronter of procrastinators and the messenger of long lost loves. And then, he returns the next day with another handful of mail. Another truck-full of messages.
And if on occasion, I find him in the downstairs lobby, I watch him sorting out the papers with what seems to be a knowing smirk. Can he decipher the message of each envelope just by the look of it? Does he know which handwriting belongs to a lover, and which — to a child? Can he feel, by touch, the perforated patches caused by the tears of a heartbroken girl, pleading for her love to return? Does he wonder about the timezones, the climates, the political regimes which each message must endure — in order to make it to the bottom of a mailbox?
“Good day,” he’ll say. Not really a question, or a statement that taunts me for my own option. Just: Good day.
I don’t even know his name. I call him “love”. Sometimes, I ask him about the traffic, and in the winter, I bring down as many tangerines as I can fit into my palm. I wait and study him, as he continues to shuffle the papers into the identical gaps. No matter my impatience or the importance of an anticipated message, I NEVER interrupt.
Today, he said, “Hold up!”; then, grabbed the only bill inside my mailbox and handed it to me.
Shit! And I don’t even know his name. But I am sure he knows mine.
“Bad news,” he stated.
I pressed the white rectangle to my chest and tried to find my father’s face — on his: “Not really,” I shook my head. “Just: Steady. Steady news.”
“Well, that’s alright then,” he said, with every decibel sounding like my personal Clint Eastwood.
My constant memory keeper. A man of relevance despite the change of times.
My patient overseer of human interactions, a witness of our faults and generosities.
And someone capable of chronically forgiving our race — and then come back to work to prove it.