For nearly twenty-four years, I was a postman. Being in uniform and out in the public eye presented innumerable opportunities for strange dealings with the general populace. One thing I always found amusing: people apparently think an important part of a postman's job is giving accurate directions to anywhere, to total strangers. Not that I minded much; I like to be helpful. But it often made for interesting situations.
For the last four years of my career, my mail route was in Chesterfield, Indiana. This is a small town a few miles from Anderson and about thirty-five miles north of Indianapolis. The main post office we all worked out of is in Anderson. I sorted my mail in Anderson, then drove over to Chesterfield every day to carry my route. For the most part, I spent my days contentedly walking through a quiet town and becoming acquainted with very nice people. But there were also days....
Scene: I am walking through one of these quiet neighborhoods, across lawns which hold enough hazards of their own without adding meddling people with dumb questions. Holes, tree limbs, lawn ornaments, junk, hanging plants at forehead level, hidden dogs, quarter-inch raised pieces of sidewalk concrete lying in wait to trip you up. (If I happened to trip and fall, which was more often than I care to admit, my procedure was to jump back up as quickly as possible with outstretched arms and pronounce, "Ta-dah!" as though I'd done it on purpose.)
But I digress. As I said, I am crossing a lawn in one of these quiet neighborhoods. A man in an SUV pulls into the driveway of the property, rolls down his window and motions me over. Oh boy, here we go, I think. He wants directions. I approach the driver's side of his vehicle. "Can I help you, Sir?"
"Where is there a CVS drugstore in Chesterfield?" he asks.
"There isn't one."
"Well, they're building a brand new school around here somewhere. Where is it?"
"They're not building a school around here that I know of."
An annoyed expression crosses his face. "You don't know much, do you?"
"Well," I reply. "I'm not lost."
He gives me a look that, when translated, means he wishes neither me nor any of my ancestors very well.
But it turns out all right. He finally laughs at himself, and I figure out that the drugstore and school he's referring to are miles away, back in Anderson. I give him appropriate directions.
But I "don't know much." People are funny.
Causes Stephen Kata Supports