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What's in Your Mailbox? Mailbox Infestations and More - Part 4, Homo Sapien Horrors

Updated on August 14, 2015
Mel Carriere profile image

Although many are mystified by his mysterious moniker, Mel Carriere is a San Diego mailman who writes about the mail, among other things.

In addition to the regular "snail mail," there are lots of interesting and creative things people can stuff into a mail receptacle, as you will soon find out.
In addition to the regular "snail mail," there are lots of interesting and creative things people can stuff into a mail receptacle, as you will soon find out. | Source

Natural vs. Homegrown Human Horrors

I started this four part series in May of 2014, but had no idea what kind of Pandora's Box I was unleashing when I flipped open the mailbox lid to see what was kind of terrors were lying there in ambush; besides your overdue "final notice" bills and "Vote for Donald" junk mail, that is. After examining in detail the wriggling, multi-legged "Creepy Crawlies," the slimy, slithering, scaly "Cold and Clammies," followed by the ferocious, furry, often fearsomely fanged "Warm and Fuzzies," I was done. I had to step back for a while to preserve my tormented psyche. Up until then, I really had no idea what I had been sticking my fingers blindly into for the last 22 years as a Postal Letter Carrier, and having eaten this horrible forbidden fruit I had to get on with life. For this reason it has taken me almost a year now to pry that lid open cautiously once again and complete the mission I started in May of 2014, when it occurred to me to poll my fellow letter carriers to find out what sort of unexpected monstrosities they have stumbled across in or around mailboxes. It was time to quit blaming Mother Nature for every creeping, crawling, squirming, splattering, shocking, disgusting, unstamped item that sometimes leaps out, wriggles out, jumps out, falls out, holds its ground defiantly, or simply sticks to the interior of America's mailboxes. The moment had come to admit that human beings, we of the Homo sapien species, are responsible for the worst of these abominable mailbox infestations.

Recap:

This article is part of a four part series that resulted from the query I posted on a Letter Carrier Facebook group page back in May of 2014. Many of the letter carriers that responded will be quoted here.

I divided the responses from my letter carrier kith and kin into four categories, so that the series consists of four segments, of which this is the last one. These are:

1. Creepy Crawlies - Part one dealt with beasts having six, eight legs or more

2. Warm and Fuzzies - Part two focused on warm blooded, mostly furry mammalian creatures that take refuge in or around your mail receptacle

3. Cold and Clammy - Part three discussed our cold-blooded friends, meaning reptiles or amphibians either alive or dead that have been found hunkering down on top of bank statements, magazines, and junk mail.

4. Homo sapien horrors - I have saved the best for last. Part 4 will concern anything generated by a human being - either created by human hands or coming out of the human body.

Chances are, unless you work at the Fire Station, you won't find any tiny Homo sapiens like these inside your mailbox.
Chances are, unless you work at the Fire Station, you won't find any tiny Homo sapiens like these inside your mailbox. | Source

Ground Rules

Even though human infants used to be shipped in the mail years ago, they typically got dropped off on doorsteps and not inside mailboxes. Therefore, this article will not pretend to convince you that you're likely to pop the lid and find a squirming bundle dressed in diapers with a stamp pasted on his or her bald baby head. Although this is certainly possible, it is definitely not a common occurrence, so the purpose of this present work is not to identify Homo sapiens itself as an invasive mailbox pest, but the Homo sapien leavings that are frequently encountered in the innards of those diverse devices that we employ as depositories for our mail. This human residue can be classified, although not so neatly, into biological and non biological categories. In other words, some of these foul leavings are actually produced by the human body, while other substances; although at times partly digested or consumed, are used by people but are not necessarily a component or waste byproduct of the human circulatory, respiratory, or digestive systems. Admittedly, the distinction of biological versus non biological can be a very blurry one with a lot of crossover, and sometimes Homo sapien horrors of both biological and non-biological origin have been found in the same box, at the same time, by the same letter carrier.

Gooey mailboxes are no fun for letter carriers.  This collection box was actually closed off, but customers still try their darndest to get some wretched unidentifiable stuff inside.
Gooey mailboxes are no fun for letter carriers. This collection box was actually closed off, but customers still try their darndest to get some wretched unidentifiable stuff inside. | Source

Non Biological

Besides its function as a letter cache, mailboxes serve a variety of other purposes, from trash containers to cigarette storage. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to squeeze mail into a tiny mailbox and found it blocked by somebody's box of smokes and cigarette lighter. Here are a few much more unpleasant examples of non-biological material that deliver the "shock and awe" effect to letter carriers when they insert their vulnerable digits into those murky, cramped depths.

It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between biological and non-biological or human or non human, to find out whether that sinister looking multi-legged monster inside that dark crevice is actually alive or not. Occasionally the somewhat risky "poke" test has to be carefully administered to determine this. As Hillary in Lindenhurst, New York relates "Someone put a rubber tarantula into a mailbox I delivered to, and it was so realistic that I poked it cautiously with a letter before I delivered. That'll get your carrier's attention, yessirree!"

Yessirree indeed. It gets worse. Like I just said, postal customers are sometimes inclined to use mail collection devices for trash disposal. In low light, perhaps compounded by blurry, drunken vision, the familiar blue collection box does assume a sort of trash can shape, and in advanced stages of inebriation can shape-shift in the mind of its intoxicated beholder into a rather steep saloon counter, perfect for holding all sorts of beverages. Edward in Philadelphia found a Big Gulp in a mailbox. Joy in Vinita, Oklahoma tells us she experienced "...lot of nastiness when doing collections years ago. Stuff like melted frosties by wendys. Used condoms on the navy base. Lizard, snakes, termites, ants cuz like the customer didn't see them when they got their mail out of the box. Right?" Thomas in Lake City, Iowa adds "My P.O. is right next to a bar...nuthin' like a tub of mail smelling like a brewski, a few times a year."

In addition to being drink coasters, mailboxes are sometimes gun holsters too. Instead of purchasing a locker to store their 2nd amendment guaranteed freedoms, it is common for many gunslingers out there to keep an extra six shooter stowed for quick access in the mailbox, in case the terrorists or the government raids their household in the middle of the night. Shandra in Baltimore tells us "In apt building where I'm on a room putting mail in from back, customer had his gun in his box." Other gunslingers like to keep the gear they need for both of their shooters together in one handy location. Steve from Los Angeles reports "I had a pistol and a condom in a box when I first started. Strange combo."

Finally, there are other non-biological items found in mailboxes that are not quite there yet but are getting pretty darn close to going biological, and with dinner and a couple glasses of wine will probably tip the scales soon. For example, Kristin in Sunnyvale, California says that she found "Panties and a card for the guy that lived there" in a mailbox.

Does your mailbox double as a biological waste disposal container?
Does your mailbox double as a biological waste disposal container? | Source

Biological and Tweeners

As I have said multiple times already, but can't stress enough, there are some items that are hard to neatly classify into organic vs. inorganic categories by the hapless letter carriers who stumble across these objects, sometimes in low light or even in the dark when daylight savings time ends. Some of these unexpected surprises are better classified as "tweeners," because they are not biological now but can become messily so within varying time frames, depending on the age of their owner and what kind of performance enhancement products he is taking. Certain pharmaceutical delivery or extraction devices also fit this criteria; being composed of inert, harmless materials that can nonetheless be accompanied by fluids of biological origin. Then there are those byproducts of human internal processes that are completely, undeniably biological, with no other hair-splitting technical criteria being necessary.

"Condom" is a word that keeps popping up everywhere in this narrative, and I mean that in a figurative, not literal sense. For some odd reason, however, condoms are rarely encountered alone, but are frequently found mixed in with other Homo sapien residue. Mail-lady Aimee relates "...Someone once tossed a nearly full slurpee in a collection box...once a condom tied on the handle of a collection box (unused, we hoped...) Used hypodermic needles...And I work in a small "safe" college town." Laura in Whitehall, Pennsylvania probably has the best condom story of all. "nooooooo...try a condom on the door handle of an apt building when you're unfamiliar with the route and you're looking at your mail and NOT the door when you go to enter!!! I ran into a business 3 doors down and begged to use their bathroom holding my hand out and washed my hand for 10 minutes...then sanitized for another 10!"

Unfortunately for our long suffering letter carriers, mail receptacles can also resemble a Port-A-John device from certain angles, especially for those humans desperate to make an unplanned nature call, or to clean up from one. Mail-lady Evangeline reveals "The most disgusting thing I found was a soiled baby diaper in a collection box. Yuck!" Scotty in Sherman, Texas keeps it simple, summing up the most disgusting thing he ever found in a mailbox with the single word "Feces."

Michael in Illinois, on the other hand, goes into much more vivid detail in his description. "Used pads and tampons laying on the sidewalk at bus stops. Used condoms and hypodermic needles just about everywhere. Piles of human feces in yards...had one guy who liked to urinate out his second story window - there was years of "build up" running down the wall to his porch."

Although they may be conveniently located, collection boxes are not designed to double as urinals.
Although they may be conveniently located, collection boxes are not designed to double as urinals. | Source

Conclusion - Who is the Top Postal Plague?

I now feel satisfied that I have exhausted my duty to guide you through the multitude of mailbox nightmares letter carriers routinely encounter, and the careless fingers of postal customers are likely to bump into as well if caution is not exercised when digging blindly into the dark interiors of those potentially toxic, danger filled orifices. I have described every imaginable horror of cold-blooded and warm blooded origin, those possessing backbones vs. those equipped with exoskeletons, those slithering upon their bellies, flying through the air in stinging swarms, creeping stealthily along on four fuzzy paws or walking upright on two legs. There is no doubt that mailbox infestations manifest themselves in all shapes and sizes and emerge from every corner of the Animal Kingdom, but I will leave it up to you to decide from where the greatest level of mailbox peril arises.

As for me, the answer is simple. I believe that Michael, that mailman in Illinois from the preceding section who found tampons, condoms, and needles scattered everywhere in his path, sums up everything neatly and succinctly when he expresses his opinion about who is the most atrocious defiler of the American mailbox. "Humans...Sorry no other animal can be this nasty."

You Decide

Which Mailbox Horror Are You Most Afraid of?

See results

Some Humans Just Have it in for Mailboxes

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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 19 months ago from SW England

      Great one, Mel. I'm amazed at what people put in your mail boxes. There aren't so many in Britain; we tend to have our letters delivered straight through the door so 'mistakes' don't often happen, though I have heard of one 'extra' post; someone whose dog had deposited their 'present' on another's person's lawn had the offending 'parcel' put through the letterbox. I can't say I blame the person who delivered that; very annoying to have someone else's dog defecate on your lawn. Good lesson!

      Great hub, full of humour as always. I know I'm going to be entertained when I read your hubs.

      Ann

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Ann, I am flattered to the point of blushing by your compliments. I am glad I could entertain, and I am glad I could educate you a little on how we conduct our mail business on this side of the pond.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 19 months ago from SW England

      You deserve any compliments; your writing always entertains and is always well-crafted.

      ann

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Ann. Coming from a skillful practitioner of the real Queen's English, that means a lot.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 19 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You never disappoint, my friend. I must confess, looking back, I don't think I've ever thought of the problems that could arise being a carrier. Dogs might have come to mind, but it never dawned on me there could be so many surprised inside the box. It's enough to give a weaker man nightmares, I would think. :)

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      I don't think it's so much a question of being a strong man, Bill, as it is adhering to that old adage "ignorance is bliss." If you don't think about what you are sticking your hands into you can make it through the day. Otherwise I would just be a case of paranoid basket case walking on two legs all day. Thanks for reading.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 19 months ago from SW England

      Now I'm blushing!!

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Zakinov 19 months ago from California

      Truly chilling gut-wrenching tale you've told here Mel! I am now horrified to even pass by a mailbox. And yeah, humans are the worst :) Funny!

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      99.99 percent of mailboxes are completely harmless Svetlana, its just kind of a crap shoot trying to figure out which ,01 percent to avoid. Thanks for reading!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 19 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub Mel, I have always had respect for our brave letter carriers but now that has gone through the roof. I an handle all creepy crawlies....but human waste etc....no way. Voted up.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 19 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Disgusting. A true credit to your writing ability that I could actually read this, knowing what was coming. It is a wild wild world out there. Can a hand have claustrophobia all by itself?

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Sometimes you have had a snake or two in your living room Jodah, so I imagine you could handle yourself with the creepy crawlies in your mailbox quite well. But toxic biological waste? That's another thing. Thanks for reading.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Eric, I think it is possible for a single hand to have its own unique phobias, which sort of confirms the old adage "the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing." Thanks for your entertaining comment and for taking the time to drop in and read.

    • profile image

      Pat Mills 19 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      Creatures can't help their nature, so humans are by far the biggest horror, even when they're not "going postal." If you were in my neighborhood, you'd be able to tell the difference between mail boxes and slots and the outhouses.

      By the way, are storks still on the USPS payroll, or were they a part of the budget cuts of your organization?

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      There still are storks on the payroll, Mills P, but they are delivering Amazon packages instead of babies. The drones idea didn't work, so Jeff Bezos decided to go natural. Thanks for reading and for the amusing comment.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 19 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another entertaining hub, Mel. I pity the poor letter carriers that have to deal with the waste that you describe! Thanks for sharing the gross but interesting information.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Gross is an understatement Linda, but it just goes to show that we humans pollute no matter where we touch down. Thanks for reading!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 19 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I can't handle creepy crawlies. Another interesting and so well written hub from you.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you DDE. It is so nice to hear from you. I wish you a very happy Sunday.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 19 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I have heard of someone depositing a dead rat inside of a mailbox of someone they couldn't stand. They wrapped it up in a small parcel and everything...truly disgusting.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      That's a pretty disgusting special delivery Dana. People can be pigs. Thank you very much for dropping in.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 19 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting and funny facts revealed. I wouldn't like to come across such weird boxes.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Venkatachari. Weird is an understatement. I appreciate you dropping in.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 19 months ago from Oklahoma

      As always, entertaining.

      Personally my biggest fear is always some poisoness insect or arachnid.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      A lot of people are creeped out by that Larry. I hate earwigs, even though they are harmless. Today I got in a nosy June bug who wouldn't leave me alone. Thanks for reading!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 19 months ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Ha...ha...ha...supervisors don't count, eh!

      Gross and totally disgusting yet entertaining and surprising read.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you CrisSp. I always endeavor to entertain, even if this one kind of did go overboard with the grossness. I appreciate you dropping in.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 19 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Enjoyed your hub Mel and got a few laughs out of it. I can not believe the things people do.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you, ladyguitarpicker, I'm glad I could give you a few laughs. It is incredible what some people do, and proves we are not much better than the other animals, and probably worse. I appreciate you dropping in.

    • Gary Malmberg profile image

      Gary Malmberg 19 months ago from Concon, Chile

      Disgusting can be funny.. when it's not your hand. I thought about part 1 earlier today when I spotted, and for the first time correctly identified an earwig crawling outside the back door. I came, I read, I learned. Thanks, Mel.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      You are the Julius Caesar of hub pages Gary, crossing the Rubicon of my little hub here. Glad you could learn something and get a little chuckle. Thanks for reading!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 19 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Methinks that gloves should now be standard issue. I'm so happy that my mailbox is locked, so that keeps me from any danger. My carrier is a wonderful soul, so I intend to protect him in any way that I can.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 19 months ago from San Diego California

      Creepy Crawlies can still get in without a key Deb. Mailmen are sort of creepy crawlies in disguise so keep a close eye on that wonderful soul of a mailman of yours. Thanks for reading.

    • Farawaytree profile image

      Michelle Zunter 18 months ago from California

      Amazing hub!!!

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 18 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Farawaytree for dropping in and reading.

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