Getting mail a real chore

 Maybe we should have bought an old house. For weeks we’ve been excited about our first new house—new floors, new carpet, new paint, new appliances, new everything. The trouble is a new house needs a mailbox.

The reason that’s trouble is that I can’t change a light bulb without breaking it. I don’t have many tools and I don’t know how to use most of the ones that have arrived as Christmas presents over the years.

Oh, well, how hard can it be? I thought. So off I went to Lowe’s to get one just like the one we had at our house in Alabama.

It was made of cast iron or something indestructible like that. The sales person told me that it was a special order box that could be ordered through Lowe’s online.

When I found it online, I was shocked. Who on earth would pay $500 for a mailbox? The answer, obviously, was the family that owned the Alabama house before we bought it. The other obvious answer was, “Not me.”

Back to Lowe’s I went. An over-sized metal box called the “Seville” looked like a good choice to hold all the catalogs and magazines that we get.

 I moved on to the posts where the words “No dig” caught my eye on one of the boxes. I could go for that, I thought. Even better, the picture on the carton showed the Seville attached to the polymer post. Perfect.

When I got home, I opened the box containing the mailbox. The Seville already was assembled and ready to install. I was on a roll; this was going to be easy.

I opened the carton containing the post and poured the contents out on the floor.

There were six pieces of black polymer, three of wood, 25 or 30 screws and a couple of pages of instructions.

The first thing I noticed was that the wood mounting block for the mailbox looked too small for the “Seville.” And the screws were so short they wouldn’t even reach from the box to the wood block.

Back to Lowe’s. I had to buy a four-foot board and have a mounting block cut from it. And longer screws.

I tackled the “No dig” part, which consisted of a two-by-four sawed into a point on one end. The instructions were to drive it two feet into the ground with a hammer and then attach the polymer post.

I headed out to the street with my hammer and stake. I beat on the stake for what seemed like hours; the stake was perhaps two inches into the clay.

I looked at the instructions. An alternate method was suggested: Buy a four-by-four post and use a post-hole digger to set it in the ground. So much for “No dig.”

Back to Lowe’s to buy a post. Fortunately, I didn’t have to buy a post-hole digger because Mike Foster, the Gazette’s production manager, loaned me his.

And after work, he and Chris Knox from our pressroom came by to help mount the box on the post.

It was a proud moment.

I was pretty pleased with myself, at least until last Saturday. When my wife and son pulled up in front of the house, the first thing they noticed was the mailbox—leaning more than a little toward the street.

Maybe we should have bought an old house.


T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at