Reminder to always check the mail
December 01, 2010
So it takes me about five minutes to come up with the headline for Kevin Daley's column and now that it's on there I can't stop thinking about it.
The reason it takes so long is the words I want to use don't fit evenly in the space they're supposed to. The space I need to fill is a two column and with most two columns you need two lines minimum to try to convey, however remotely, what the story, column, letter, etc. is about.
Kevin Daley's column is a reminder to consumers to protect themselves from identity theft during the holiday shopping season. It's a reminder we issue dozens of times throughout the year, but I notice it's something that keeps cropping up because predators are shifty characters. They prove time and again their ability to adapt and pounce.
It's the use of the word 'predator' that's sticking with me now. I don't think I've ever used it in a headline but it's been foremost in my psyche for quite some time.
It's like the gentle lamb woke from a foggy slumber just before the final slaughter. It's like the lamb and the lion story except no one lays down together peacefully. It's an absolute nightmare.
I have no headline for the story that's stuck in my head and despite my admonitions to get the h%!& out, the wolf in sheep's clothing keeps dancing around up there.
I am comprehending that there are, indeed, true predators in this world. Wolves in sheep's clothing, yes. Yes. But they're not real wolves, of course, they're people...well, I guess. I use the term loosely, that's for sure.
Predators so inhuman you know they're not real people. But they're shaped like a person so you don't really know what else to call them. Shapeshifters who can't stand the light so when it shines they disappear. After the feast, of course...
...So it is with predators in mind that I issue a warning/reminder to my fellow non-mail-checkers.
Up until recently, I check my mail about once a week. It's psychological. If I don't see the bills, they're not there. This changes about a month ago, when checking the mail becomes imperative. I'm expecting something important. It never arrives.
On Tuesday—just one little day—at the end of a long day I forget to stop at the mailbox at the end of my long driveway. Just one day I forget and leave it in the box. On Wednesday morning I'm startled by a knock at my door. It's a neighbor who lives around the corner. He hands two envelopes through the opening and says "your mail's scattered all over the road."
I'm dumbfounded and a bit numb. In my gray robe and leaky rubber boots I make my way out to the road. Up and down as far as I can see are scattered bits of paper; flyers; torn envelopes; folded sheets trapped in tall weeds. I look up one side and down the next. It looks like a mess about as far as I can see. It makes my heart beat faster.
I scurry to and fro picking up whatever is there. A Thanksgiving card from my sister over here. The envelope over there. A bill over here, bank statement there. Notices, letters, another card. None but the card from my sister is addressed to me. Most of what I find belongs to an address down the road, about a mile away. All of it's torn into and discarded like waste.
I grab whatever I can find and stuff it in a bag to return to its rightful owner.
I feel lucky that the two envelopes handed to me were intact. They look enough like junk mail that I suppose they weren't worth opening. Later, my next door neighbors find my Edison bill, also unopened, and return it to me.
I decide to look into a post office box. It's obvious that nothing is off limits these days. The lambs are being crowded out by the wolves. There are predators everywhere.
I suppose I should feel lucky that at age 53 I am just learning this very difficult truth. I suppose I'm not so lucky it takes me to age 53 to be left with no choice but to know that it's true.
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Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.