What's in Your Mailbox? - Mailbox Infestations and More - Part Two Warm and Fuzzies
Mammals Make Mailmen Miserable
At times it appears that every mammal that hopped, pawed or clawed its way out of the ark after the ever tipsy Noah crashed it against the slopes of Ararat is in conspiracy against the United States Postal Service and its employees. Of course, when mammals and postal employees are mentioned in the same sentence it is usually in conjunction with the canine family of the mammalian class of animals. But since this article deals primarily with animals found in mailboxes, then unless we're talking about teacup Chihuahuas or little yapping Yorkies it is highly unlikely, though certainly not impossible, that dogs will be encountered inside of one. Therefore, because I've already written enough about dogs in this venue to open up my own wing of the Library of Congress we will skip the pooches for now and focus on other aggravating endothermic (warm-blooded) critters.
There is one mammal that is not generally found in mailboxes but bears mention here because of all the grief he caused letter carriers the previous winter. This is the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, that rascally rodent who causes winters to be long or short based upon his capricious fuzz-brained whims regarding whether or not he sees his shadow on February 2nd. Well, this year Phil neglected to spot it and was responsible for about 6 more weeks of an already horrible winter that froze a record 93% of the Great Lakes and had letter carriers east of the Rockies bundling up thicker than scientists at the South Pole. And while most people say it was just random chance that the practical joking little rodent didn't see his shadow, I have watched the video myself and I don't think he was really looking for it. For this reason letter carriers in many parts of the country were cursed with one of the worst winters ever, and once again they can blame a mammal for their misery.
Besides groundhogs, by far the worst mammalian monstrosity to influence mail delivery and do completely inappropriate things inside of mailboxes is an animal that is very near and dear to most of our hearts, and this is the species known as Homo sapiens. Just in case you flunked eighth grade biology that would be human beings, people - just plain us, knucklehead! Anyhow, because the human mammal does such vulgar and disgusting things in and around mailboxes I have reserved an entire article for people, which means I am saving the best (meaning worst) for last.
To refresh your memory, this article is one of a series that consists of the following four parts. Please note that the title of Part 3 has now been changed.
- Part One - Creepy Crawlies (Insects and Bugs)
- Part Two - Warm and Fuzzies (Mammals, Marsupials, and perhaps other warm-blooded creatures)
- Cold and Clammy (Formerly Slimeballs - consisting of reptiles and possibly amphibians)
- Homo Sapien Horrors (Human beings and the disgusting items they leave in mailboxes)
Most of the true-life letter carrier experiences that will be recounted here came in response to the following Facebook query:
Although we will find out later that there are plenty of disgusting exceptions to the rule, most members of the Homo sapiens mammalian species recognize a mailbox as a place for the mailman to deposit letters in and to pick up outgoing mail from. Other mammals sometimes seem to have a problem with this standard definition, however. To them a mailbox can also be a warm, dry den on a post that serves either as a maternity ward in which to give birth to small, cuddly furries or a dry, safe place to ride out the flood when the levee breaks and Momma says it's five foot high and risin'.
For this reason letter carriers sometimes get surprises of the squeaky, fuzzy form when they pop open a mailbox lid and insert their tender digits inside. The above photo is a perfect case in point. Elijah of Martins Ferry, Ohio learned about the multiple mammalian functions of mailboxes when he found these newlywed, honeymooning mice making themselves cozy inside of one. He actually didn't see the rodents when he stuck his hand in and didn't know there was anything irregular inside until he felt something wriggling beneath his startled fingers.
Unfortunately, mammals tend to claim squatters rights in mail receptacles, and once they've set up housekeeping evicting them can become problematic, as mail-lady LoEne from an undisclosed location found out. According to LoEne, a mouse in a mailbox "just stared at her" when she opened the door, but instead of putting up a fuss LoEne wisely closed the lid and drove away. When dealing with raging rodents sometimes retreat is the best option.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that our fellow mammals are dumber than we are, because I am the first to recognize that they are not. I just want to remind you of something I said before, which is that different creatures can have different definitions for the same object. For instance, when my therapist shows me a picture of a mailbox the first thing that pops into my head is "mailbox," along with all of the emotional trauma associated with that object, none of it relating to my mother. On the other hand, when a squirrel sits on the couch and sees the same picture he starts salivating a little as he thinks about what a perfect place it would be to store his acorns and maybe curl up on top of this stash to take a long winter's nap.
It seems unusual, but these bushy tailed nut hoarders and letter carriers are by no means strangers. As proof, here's what the very articulate Mail-lady BaLynda in New London, Wisconsin had to say about squirrels and mailboxes.
"It was a beautiful day for delivering mail. While making my rounds without hesitation I dropped the mail in a box that had the lid already up. A squirrel immediately popped up and started chattering angrily at me. Scared the daylights outta me! Evidently, this squirrel didn't appreciate me putting mail in his new nuts storage container. I still giggle when I think about how I upset that squirrel."
Don't feel too smug, BaLynda, because when that squirrel is sitting around chillin' with his squirrel bros he still gets a good giggle about how he scared the daylights out of you.
Mailman Jeffrey from Wherever, USA also had a run-in with a squirrel that was "Riding out a storm," in a mailbox, but he would not elaborate on the encounter except to say that "It didn't end well for me." Rayna in Bremerton, Washington and Linda in St. Albans, West Virginia both found dead squirrels in a box, so obviously those times it didn't end well for the squirrel. Do mailboxes also make cozy, comfortable places for warm-blooded creatures to curl up in and draw their last breaths?
Cats in Collection Boxes
Sometimes two-legged mammals make use of four-legged animals to pull silly pranks on the post office, often out of a desire for vengeance. Maybe the cruel and unfeeling letter carrier refuses to pick up a customer's stampless outgoing mail, for instance, or perhaps the mailman pepper-sprayed their pooch and now it is payback time. What do I know? There are probably a thousand good reasons to exact revenge on letter carriers by scaring them right out of their cute little blue shorts.
This is the reason that mammals are sometimes forced into mail-related devices even though they normally steer clear from them, and from those tomb-like depths they share the unsuspecting letter carrier's nightmare. More specifically, many letter carriers across America have reported finding cats in collection boxes. As such, we see that the iconic blue letter receptacles that adorn America's streets sometimes become torturous hostiles for the unfortunate felines that stray into the trap of devious jokesters.
Don in Arkansas found what he described as "a big tomcat" in one of his collection boxes. He says "When I dropped down that door all he wanted was OUTTA THERE!" Don then describes how he very nearly had to go home and change his postal-issue pants after this encounter with the enraged feline furrball.
Collection box encounters of the feline kind often do not end well for either human or animal. Another Donald, whom I assume is from New York because he wears his Mets gear proudly, came across a dead cat in a mailbox. Doreen in Laramie, Wyoming found a skinned cat, a victim of a horrible act that I understand can be done in more than one way, but most of us prefer not be done at all. This unspeakable cruelty only goes to support my thesis once again that Homo sapiens is the biggest mammalian mailbox monster of all.
Miscellaneous Marsupials, Endotherms, Etc.
Some of the creatures found in mailboxes could not be neatly pigeonholed into any of the four categories, and for this reason there are certain endothermic (warm-blooded) non-mammals that I will include in a separate paragraph because they are also warm and fuzzy, though a few are more feathered than fuzzy.
Regina in Joliet, Illinois almost stumbled into a possum that was sitting in a perfect state of camouflage beneath a mailbox. Possums don't carry bags like mailmen but being a marsupial they have their own built-in pouch, so this was a case of satchel vs. satchel.
Since birds are warm-blooded too, there is also an occasional warm-blooded feathery infestation. Mail-lady Tina was startled by a bird that flew out of a mailbox, but she could never figure out how it got in there in the first place. Terry in Arizona stepped on a dead pigeon and found a dead bird in a mailbox. Letter Carrier Suzanne of unknown locale was horrified to encounter a dead duck in a mail receptacle. Death seems to surround America's mailboxes; sometimes they are like little metal tombs on a post. Perhaps they will bury me someday in a mailbox-shaped coffin, of course with the flag up so the mail angels will know to collect me when they pass by.
We are now two segments into this series and it seems like it's only getting worse as it goes along. First we took a look at the creeping and crawling bugs that make America's mailboxes unusable, and while this was plenty bad enough we now see that the furry critters we share our mammalian classification with believe that mailboxes were constructed specifically for their use. When our mail receptacles are completely inundated and taken over by invasive pests of the bug or mammal variety, where in the heck is the letter carrier going to stick the mail?
All I can say is that researching and writing about this subject has made me very cautious of where my fingers are going as I'm making my rounds, and I now shudder when I think of what icky surprises the next delivery may hold. So stay alert my brothers and sisters in blue and all of you in the general public who go now with trembling, hesitant steps to fetch your mail every day, never knowing if some irate occupant of that mailbox is going to dispute your claim of ownership. Perhaps Phil the groundhog himself will take up residence inside one, if only to further mock the mailmen he holds at his mercy!