We called him the Ninja Mailman, because you’d spend all day waiting for the mail to come, pacing back and forth and back and forth to an empty mailbox. And then, suddenly, there’d be a bump at the door, and you’d dash to it and find a stack of letters in the box and no mailman to be seen.
Once I saw him in the flesh, on a summer day when I was out reading in the sun. He emerged from around the lilac bush that separated our yard from the neighbor’s. He said, “Hello!” with booming enthusiasm. Then he handed me a stack of letters and walked down the street toward the next block, a route he took every day but without witnesses.
One time I tried to mail a letter. I wedged it conspicuously in the lid of the mailbox. After the bump, I returned to find a stack of letters in the box and my outgoing one still in the lid. So the next day, I wedged the letter even more precariously in the lid of the mailbox. A stray gust of wind could take it away forever. I watched the window all morning to make sure he took it. Then I got distracted for one second, and forgot all about the letter until I heard the bump and saw a new stack of letters, the outgoing one merrily flapping in the breeze. The next day, I clamped my letter firmly to the mailbox with a note: Mailman. Please take. It worked, and my bill payment was only three days late.
He wasn’t the smartest of mail carriers, but we loved him anyway.