One day I was talking to a friend of mine, who is a retired mail carrier. He was telling me some wild stories about working at the local post office. Yes, wild. Not “crazy postman brings a gun to work” wild. More…. curious. The “make you scratch your head and say ‘what’?” kind of stories. This is one such tale.
There once was a postal worker who came in from his route one day and casually mentioned to his supervisor how many boxes he’d had to deliver.
“This guy must be loaded,” he said, “he’s getting new stuff every day.”
The supervisor didn’t think much about it, even after hearing the same worker come in several times after that, always with the same complaint.
“Geez, this guy gets a lot of packages.”
Finally, the worker came in one day near Christmas and said the guy had gotten thirty packages that week. That got the supervisor’s attention. He got the name and address of the package recipient. Turns out it was the address of an employee at that very post office branch. He worked in the sorting room, with – you guessed it – parcel post.
The postal inspector came, and the investigation revealed that the parcel post worker had been redirecting random packages to his home address. How? Simple. He kept a pocket full of labels pre-printed with his address. When a promising-looking package came through, he’d wait until no one was looking, and slap on his label. The package was delivered to his house, no questions asked. Investigators found that he’d been doing it for years. He only got caught when he got greedy, sending too many packages at a time.
Now, I can think of any number of reasons why someone might steal packages, and I bet you can, too. Reselling the goods. Giving them as Christmas gifts. Just plain meanness.
Here’s the kicker – there was no reason.
When investigators searched the guy’s house they found a garage loaded to the brim with unopened boxes.
The guy never even opened them. There they sat, towers of brown boxes, all sealed up like the day they were shipped. He was just hoarding them. My friend says the guy himself had no explanation.
This story kills me. I cannot imagine the willpower it would take to not open those packages. It makes me a little bit ill, just thinking about it. Wasn’t he curious? I am. I’m dying to know what was in there.
I’ve found this story to be a great metaphor – what are the unopened packages in your life? What gifts await your unwrapping? As curious as I am about the postman’s parcels, I have to admit that I’ve occasionally had my own unopened boxes. Haven’t we all?
The best box I hesitated to open turned out to be my sewing machine. Back in 1998, my husband heard me mention that I’d like one, and he braved Black Friday to get me one on sale for Christmas. I’d been decorating our rented house, and I had big dreams of making some curtains. It was a thoughtful, loving gift. I appreciated it then, and I still do.
But I didn’t use it for seventeen years. I opened the box once, saw the instruction manual, and stopped right there. Sewing was something I always wanted to do, but I didn’t know how. Reading the instruction manual for the machine was one thing. But how do you know what fabric to use? What thread? What projects are good for beginners? Since this was in the days before YouTube, no easy video instruction was out there. Books existed on the subject, but…. they just didn’t have projects I was interested in.
And so, my sweet little sewing machine sat in a closet.
As the years passed, the subject of sewing kept circling me – I so badly wanted to learn! I dreamed of someday learning to piece a quilt. I knew there were places to take classes, but I just hated going it alone. None of my friends sewed or quilted.
Later that year, I got lucky. I took a job as director of a senior center, and the first lady I met said,
“I’m tired of quilting alone at my house. I want to start a quilting class. I know a lady who teaches, and she’s willing to come on Mondays. Can we start next week?”
“Yes,” I said with a big grin. My chance had come! “Yes, we can. As long as I can sit in.” Then I went home, opened up that old box, and started quilting. I haven’t stopped since. I waited a long time to open that box, but it was worth it.