Jalapeno peppers are the extreme opposite of Vanilla Ice-cream. The North Pole is the extreme opposite (climate wise) of the Sahara desert. Political mentality is the extreme opposite of Common sense. What is the glaring difference here? Jalepeno’s will not make Vanilla Ice-cream disappear, the North Pole will never meet the Sahara desert so neither in is peril of extinction at the hands of the other. Political mentality, on the other hand, is slowly killing common sense.

Life is full of small irritants, everyday occurrences that drive us bonkers like dealing phone companies, politicians or school boards. I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason stupid laws get passed and idiotic notions that look good on paper but never have a chance at surviving the light of day, come to pass is because we let it happen.

Now I’m not a fan of the idea that the loud people get what they want. It happens. I’ve seen it happen and most of the time the loud person is wrong but they get what they want because it’s easier to just shut them up than to set them straight. Sounds like some parenting techniques, doesn’t it?

I do, however, believe in standing up for what’s right. I believe in accepting when I’m wrong, but needing the proof in order to do so. I’m an adult now and “because I said so” doesn’t cut it as an excuse anymore.

We came home from vacation, a few weeks ago, to a little yellow flag fluttering jauntily at the driveway to my side field. At first I chalked it up to the phone company marking underground cable for repair. When I stopped laughing and wiped the tears from my eyes, I was left wondering what it really could be for. My question was answered later that afternoon when two gentlemen came to the door. My wife talked to them for a few minutes. She didn’t call me to the door so it couldn’t have been important. ENNNNH! Wrong.

Apparently Canada Post has deemed our mailbox to be in a position of extreme danger for both their delivery person and the traffic that drives down our road. They want us to move it to the new location (at our own expense).

Here is their reasoning: http://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/aboutus/corporate/rural/faqs.jsf#1 . There are some valid points in there and I am not begrudging them trying to keep things safe for their employees.

The problem is, the new location puts the mailbox closer to the road and at the very lip of the access to our field. It will be a target, a veritable beacon, for snowplows and farm machinery and unlike Weebles, when it gets knocked down, it won’t pop back up unscathed.

Let me set the record straight. Our road is not a high traffic road, it is a back road. My mailbox is not obscured nor is there another mailbox close by. It is on a flat stretch of paved road. The problem lies in a small hill in the road beyond our driveway. Canada Post has deemed that this hill is a blind spot to oncoming traffic and a car passing their delivery person cannot see oncoming traffic and may cause an accident endangering their delivery person.

Did I mention that there is a conspicuous solid yellow line running down the centre of the road.

I did my homework. According to the MTO, that is the Ministry Of Motor Vehicles, a solid yellow lines means “It is unsafe to pass”. As well, and as all new drivers can tell you, passing a vehicle on the crest of a hill is extremely unsafe. Both of which you wouldn’t know just from watching people drive nowadays, but I digress.

So, by those two rules any traffic coming up behind the mail delivery vehicle, stopped for a total of 10 seconds, should stop. If they presume to pass, and in doing so they cause an accident by way of their impatience, because Lord knows 15 seconds is a long time to have to wait, they are then liable for any damage they cause and may be subject to charges ranging from unsafe lane change to dangerous driving.

Which brings me back to the matter at hand, not only does the mail get delivered during the day, IE after “rush hour”, but we also get garbage and recycling pick-up at the same spot. Neither has asked me to move my garbage down the street. The school bus also stops there and I go in and out of the same driveway, backwards and forwards, sometimes even pulling a trailer.

Maybe Canada Post knows something I don’t. Maybe I should move my whole house 30 feet down the road. Apparently it’s much safer there.

I studied the statistics. Since the house was built in 1969, there have been a total of two accidents near that stretch of road. One was a vehicle roll over, driver error they got too close to the shoulder and the road was gravel at that time, and the second was also driver error, excessive speed. Neither happened as a result of a vehicle passing the mailperson. So according to statistics, we are on the safest stretch of road in all of Canada when it comes to mail delivery.

A point which I’m sure will be lost when they come out to see me next week. Corporate accountants and political think-tanks don’t take real life into account. How can they when they are sheltered from it?

Oh and did I mention that I got a follow-up letter? Apparently, as I failed to move my mailbox in the allotted 15 days, I will no longer have my mail delivered. I can pick it up at the post office and if I don’t make arrangements for a Post Office Box, they will charge me to pick it up at the office.

Nice, hunh? I think I’ll write a letter to my local congressperson. Now if only I can find my crayons. Wait, do you think it’ll make it to them, or am I being too… extreme?

Since I wrote this, I have had the second “meeting”. The gentlemen from Canada Post and I came to an amicable solution. I have moved my mailbox. Am I happy about it? No, but there were concessions made and it is, now, in a better position.

So why am I still griping? In my conversation with these two learned gentlemen, whom I will refer to as Tall guy and Short guy, a number of contradictions came up. They claim that these new “regulations” did not come about as a result of carrier complaints. See the link above on their own website “Canada Post has received more than 40 rulings from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (Labour Canada) about workplace safety issues, stemming from the more than 3,000 complaints from our rural mail carriers about health and safety concerns while delivering the mail.” In fact their own workers union is against these new measures. http://www.cupw.ca/1/0/5/6/1/index1.shtml .

I made sure to point this out. I then asked how much the brain trust cost their failing company, for the research and paperwork to come up with these new regulations to make it “the same everywhere”. That they couldn’t answer. My question is, if the carriers don’t feel unsafe why then go through this charade? Seems to me they could have saved themselves some valuable money if they sat and talked to their employees and evaluated the locations they deemed unsafe. A blanket measure doesn’t work everywhere. Every place is different. That’s what gives life its spice.

Their reason my mailbox wasn’t safe? They lost sight of oncoming cars for a period of 14 seconds.

Here’s a solution. As a driver picking up my mail, I check my rear-view mirror prior to stopping. If there is a car coming, I pull off and let it pass. I timed the cars coming over hill behind me. From the point where I can see them until they reach me is well over sixty seconds. I asked them how long it took to put mail in my mailbox. One answered the other shrugged. Ten to twelve seconds. Plenty of time to put the mail in and pull away in safety.

Another solution? Don’t hire nervous drivers. The people who deliver my mail are fast and efficient. They are in and out of our mail box in less than six seconds. I wonder if Tall guy and Short guy asked their opinion?

But that would be a common sense move wouldn’t it? Mark my words, the rural mailbox is on its last legs. Afterall, what do we get in it now? Junk mail, politicians’ flyers screaming at us to like them, and bills. Even the bills are moving to electronic versions whether we like it or not, right Bell Canada?

Yep those mailboxes will soon be joining common sense and the Dodo Bird in extinction and we are a sadder place for it.

The worst part of this story? I joined the ranks of being part of the problem and not of the solution. I relented. Sure I dug my heels in but in the end I backed down. Stupidity, at the corporate level, is inflexible and one can only beat their head against its unyielding surface for so long. All you get for your troubles is a forehead resembling ground beef and the a nagging feeling you’re the inmate that dropped the soap in the shower.

What do you think? Are you a Canada Post delivery person? I’d like to hear your input… anonymously, of course.

About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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6 Responses to Extremes

  1. Lisa Llamrei says:

    Your old mailbox location probably was unsafe for rural mail carriers who stop on the crest of a hill while driving on the wrong side of the road in the fog. Which I have seen them doing, btw.

  2. King Lerxst says:

    Congratulations Dale, you single-handedly kept the unemployment numbers down for the month. It never ceases to amaze me how many people it takes to do nothing. I guess the price of stamps will be going up in January!

  3. Nate Shenk says:

    I’m actually a Canada Post delivery person and I find this post extremely offensive. Apparently you’d rather me die trying to deliver your mail than just moving the mailbox a few feet…haha. I enjoyed this little story. Although, it does sound frustrating for you, it makes perfect sense and I probably would have just given in as well. It’s a shame we aren’t the annoying, incorrect loud type who cry until we get our way.

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