Sometimes to spice up my dull morning commute, I decide to take as many back roads to work as I possibly can. I cut out all roads that have traffic, and drive through back roads in little residential neighborhoods. I start in Mercerville, continue through West Windsor and Plainsboro, until 40 minutes later I reach my Princeton destination. I am forever amazed at the creativity of uncreative people and how they try despairingly to put their personal stamp on their homes — via the mail box. What they don’t realize is that the mailbox can speak volumes about the person/s that resides in the house. It’s a showcase of personal outdoor fashion. Honestly, I can pretty much judge a person by his or her mailbox. Here is my personal critique of the 2010 mailbox roadway fashion:
The OPENED MOUTH BASS mailbox. For this type of mailbox the mouth of the fish is actually the opening of the mailbox. One has to reach in the bass’ mouth to place any mail inside. A joy for the mailperson, especially if a woman, I’m sure. It’s the mailbox of a husband and wife who although live together, actually prefer to live their own separate lives yet remain together.
For the man it clearly states “I’d rather be fishing than spend time with my wife.” From the women’s perspective, “He can have his stupid mail box as long as he doesn’t complain or question that I spend $50 a month on my nails and $180 every other month on my hair.” It’s a compromise from both sides.
The DARTH VADER mailbox. Believe it or not, there is a mailbox that although it is made from scrap pieces of metal, it looks identical to the head of Darth Vader. Certainly a Star Wars fanatic — and obviously single — this mailbox speaks of a fanatic freak that has refused to grow up. This person most likely has one room in the house devoted strictly to Star Wars paraphernalia and collectible items along with several other collections of action figurines. It also states that this person is single and will remain so until a more grown up mailbox has replaced the childhood fantasy mailbox and all memorabilia has been removed from all shelves and sold at auction on eBay.
The TRACTOR mailbox. The tractor mailbox is the manliest of all mailboxes. All farmers, along with their “farmers tan,” will always believe their tractors are the only thing sexier than they are. Male farmers, in particular, like anything with a big engine and believe that it is a personal statement of their manhood. This obviously is a one-sided opinion. They also believe that the only thing they could love as much as their tractor is a faithful dog or a wife that can cook. Tractor, dog, wife-in that order. The good news is that the good old girls they are married to don’t mind because they find their big engines sexy too. What better way to advertise they are having great sex? The mailbox says it all. “Voom, vroom.”
The DOG mailbox. Man’s most faithful companion is now in the form of a mailbox. Like the large mouthed bass mailbox, the dog mailbox opens by way of the dog’s mouth. These mailboxes belong to retired couples who are now grandparents and who believe that the only thing cuter than their grandbabies are their miniature lap dogs, which have now become their children, and are treated with as much care and love as an actual baby. Along with their “oh so cute” mailboxes, their yards are adorned with every kind of tacky plastic lawn gnome, frog, flower pinwheel, and pink flamingo that the local dollar store sells.
Small children seem to gravitate to this yard to play with the bright magical plastic wonders that are changed according to the season. Dog mailbox owners are the happiest of all mailbox owners.
The BASKET mailbox. The basket mailbox is the surest sign that you are living next to a “country bumpkin wannabe.” This owner has removed all remains of the standard post-n-mailbox and has now fastened a woven basket to the front door in hopes that their home will now appear more quaint. These individuals believe they can convert their neighborhood into Mayberry RFD, and that by making the mailman come up the steps to deliver the mail, it is actually giving the impression that they live in a friendly small town.
Their homes are filled with cute reminders of an era gone by. They typically display baskets of eggs on their kitchen counters, have miscellaneous baskets hanging from their kitchen ceilings, and they use large wicker baskets to carry their air-dried laundry in from the clothes line. These individuals secretly hope that the “Milk Man” will someday make a “come back.” Beware of the “Basket Mailbox Person” — they tend to be sentimental maniacs and will drown you in home-baked goodies and leave you feeling guilty for having bought store brand items. The only people that like “Basket Mailbox People” are those that are “basket cases” themselves.
The OVERSIZED mailbox. One cannot buy this type of mailbox at a local hardware store. In this case, the local mail person would have had to replace standard mailbox with one that is the size of a 32-inch square TV to allow enough room for the daily mail to be delivered and inserted into the mailbox, which does not include the special deliveries that come via the UPS man. The people who own an oversized mailbox are agoraphobic shopaholics. They never leave the house — only to go to work during the week and attend church on Sunday morning. Everything else in their lives can be handled from their computer by a single click of the mouse, or by catalog shopping. Rarely is this person ever seen outside. When spotted, these people seem to be proportional to the size of their mailbox.
The CONCRETE mailbox. Concrete mailboxes are made of solid stone from top to bottom with a standard mailbox built into its frame. The owner of a concrete mailbox is a very insecure, pessimistic person. This person has a subconscious fear that no area of his or her life is stable. They also have a great fear that the world is out to get something from them … possibly to steal their mail. They have protected their mailbox as best as they possibly can from any delinquent that might attempt to destroy the mailbox itself.
These people will forever be in therapy. They will personally hand deliver all bills and letters that do not have a proper PO Box for fear that the recipient does not have a secured mailbox. Take note: these individuals are usually OCD and germaphobics as well. The inside of their house is comparable to an operating room in a museum.
The PO BOX mailbox. The PO box holder is a complex individual. There are several possibilities as to the personality types of these individuals. They either (a.) are too busy to check their mail on a daily basis from constant travel abroad, (b.) have downsized their lives to living in an apartment complex, (c.) live in a neighborhood feared by the Concrete Mailbox owner (where all mail has the potential of being stolen), or (d.) lead a secret life that they want no one to find out about. The (d) type PO Box holder may even be a “dual mailbox owner” with a standard mailbox for “normal appearances” and have a PO mailbox for mysterious mail. These people believe their secretive PO Box life gives them an edgy, dangerous demeanor that makes others think they are of high importance.
The BUCKET mailbox. The bucket mailbox is usually owned by a male who has recently been divorced or dumped. It’s apparent that the female in the relationship has taken anything of value from the relationship, including the artistically decorated mailbox, where she probably found a love letter addressed to the current male occupant, and has packed her bags, and left for good.
The abandoned male has become so depressed and distraught by the flight of “the only woman he has ever loved,” that he quite frankly “no longer gives a shit” about anything, and has replaced his old mailbox with any old thing that will “make do.” Thus, the bucket duct taped to the wood post where the once Standard mailbox was attached. What the male does not know is that female passersby see this “lack of a real mailbox” as laziness on the male’s part, and will not even consider anyone with a bucket mailbox for mating or any type of relationship.
The MULTIPLEX mailbox. The owner of multiplex mailboxes thinks of himself as a cultured person. This person has a “standard” mailbox next to two to three additional mailboxes that list the individual names of newspapers that are delivered to that particular address, ie, The Times, The New York Times, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. (It’s the condo villa of mailboxes).
This particular owner prides himself in the self perception that he/she is smarter than everyone else in the neighborhood. The fact that this owner has one or more newspapers delivered on a daily basis solidifies the fact that he/she is cultured and up-to-date on the most current events. Seldom does this person have much in common with others that live in houses with only one mailbox.
The STANDARD mailbox. The most common of all mailboxes is the standard white/black/metal mailbox on either a wooden or plastic post. These home owners are the ordinary people of the world. The “norms” of society. Their mailboxes state that they are everyday, hardworking, middle class people, who are not out to prove anything to anyone. When they do get into a creative vibe they sometimes will decorate the standard mailbox with hand painted pictures, or drape magnetic pictures over them to make it appear that they too lead an interesting life.
These are the sanest of all mailbox owners. The standard mailbox owner views “out of the ordinary” mailboxes as a sign of fun, but also as a sign of mental illness and takes note of what type of mailbox not to own, no matter how much they enjoy looking at them.
Darcy Cotten, a graphic designer for Princeton University, enjoys painting, cartooning, and writing poems and literature. She also volunteers for Mercer County Special Services School District, and is an active board member for Riding High Farm (a therapeutic riding facility for individuals with special needs).