M is for Mailbox

Last week we were subject to an act of “criminal mischief” which I might call “criminal damage” or just “vandalism” if I was in the UK. But the state policeman called it criminal mischief so that’s what I’m going with –  a phrase that maybe even deserves it’s own blog post (such a cute term – it was one of the highlights of a rather irritating incident!).

What happened was this:


Can you see that? Someone decapitated our mailbox. With their car. Shocking. That would never happen in Britain. Never.

But I say that not because Britain is a country of tea drinking, cucumber sandwich munching law abiding citizens…. but because we don’t have mailboxes. If we did, I am sure hordes of marauding teenagers on ASBOs (do they still have ASBO’s? (Anti-social Behaviour Orders)) would love taking out mailboxes like they were skittles. But instead, we have letterboxes cut in our doors.


Also, we have merry postmen and women who park their red vans (trucks) and walk with their bags of letters and parcels and deliver our post (mail) right onto our doormats. Sometimes they cycle too. But here there are mailmen and women who drive little white trucks (vans) and stop at the end of our driveways and leave our mail (post) in our mailboxes.

Here is the UK system:


No. Sorry. There is a reason Postman Pat did not make stateside when Bob the Builder did – and it’s not just because he drove the wrong colour of van. It was a really, really, crap programme (show).

So here is a Royal Mail postman (looking a bit shifty actually):


And here is the US mailman:

joel-summersThis nice looking mailman is called Joel Summers. Read about him here 🙂

Spot the big difference? The US mailman doesn’t have to get out of his van. Smart eh? But he also does something else that a British postie can’t do. He picks up mail too.


I genuinely had no idea why our mailbox came with a little metal red flag on it when we first moved here. I had to ask someone what is was for. Turns out when you have a letter or even a parcel you want to send you can put it in the mailbox and put your flag up. The mailman takes your mail and puts the flag down and then drives off. How nice is that, I ask myself? I answer: that is very lovely.

Except for just one thing. I miss these:

DCF 1.0

Strange but true. I am filled with an expat-longing for the sight of a pillar box hugging the kerb (curb) and casting its shadow on the worn cobbles of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Once upon a sunny 1970’s day I roller-skated down a street near my house and found a hairy caterpillar. I picked it up and took it along with me. Then, when I was bored of it, I posted it in a pillar box. I suppose it got squashed and made a bit of a mess on someone’s letters. I’ve always felt a bit bad about that. Sorry.


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