We’ve all heard the saying, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor” blah, blah, blah will keep the mail from being delivered.
The U.S. Postal Service will be quick to tell you that it never said anything like that and that it isn’t the post office’s motto.
Keeping that in mind, it is also useful to know that the saying – although it mentions heat and gloom of night – doesn’t say a thing about rust.
Rust, it turns out, will stop your mail dead in its tracks.
Some of us don’t have to worry about this. We have spouses who periodically paint our mailboxes different colors and occasionally buy new ones just for a new look.
But people with what are called rural mailboxes usually just put them up and never think about them again, unless they get run over by a pickup truck or smashed by a kid waving a baseball bat.
Those old mailboxes are sturdy. They’re almost always either galvanized or anodized, and they can last practically forever.
That’s what the boxes are like on Seaforth Lane. Howard Kepler says his old mailbox has been up for 35 years, and it’ll be good for another 35 years, he predicts. To put it bluntly, it’ll probably outlast him.
Oh, it’s showing its age. The top and the sides began to show a little surface rust awhile back, but that was nothing to worry about. It was still good and solid, sitting on top of its post.
Until the post office looked upon it with gloom. Kepler and several other residents on Seaforth received notices in their mailboxes. The boxes are rusty. Paint them.
Not everyone paid a lot of attention to the notes. One resident apparently didn’t read the notice or didn’t notice it.
Until his mail stopped coming.
That’s right. The post office stopped delivering one resident’s mail for an entire week until he painted his mailbox.
Kepler and other residents didn’t experience the same fate. Kepler’s neighbor painted his mailbox and gave what was left of his paint to Kepler, who slathered it over the rust on the top and sides, and everything was as good as new.
But the experience left a lot of people a little confused. You won’t get your mail if your mailbox is rusty? Even Kepler’s son, who is a letter carrier, had never heard of that.
Well, it’s true. The post office has a little preprinted note, one issued in 1991, that notifies people that mailboxes need to be kept in good repair. It has a series of boxes listing types of repairs that need to be made, and a date by which the repairs need to be made. After that, as Kepler’s neighbor found out, the mail stops.
We asked the post office about this and yes, we were told, if you get one of those little notes, you better pay attention to it.
The post office sponsors a mailbox improvement week in the spring, urging people to fix up their boxes if they’ve gotten beaten up over the winter, hit by plows, knocked crooked or lost their grip on the post.
That program is designed to make sure that mailboxes are secure and that the mail placed in them doesn’t fall out or get blown away.
The rust issue is designed to ensure that mail carriers don’t cut themselves opening and closing rusty mailboxes.
It seems getting cut on mailboxes would be the big worry, but rust seems to be the motivator. So from now on, anyone cut opening the boxes on Seaforth will get cut on freshly painted boxes.