PermaLink In which I clean out a gigantic mailbox and find...03/13/2006 01:45 AM

I tend not to take mail out of my mailbox unless I need to deal with it in real time.  Periodically, though, I have to do a monumental purge.
I live on a rural route, that bastion of free mail delivery in the vast rural areas of the United States.  Many of us have truly huge mailboxes; leftovers, maybe, of the days when you used to be able to order useful things from Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck & Co.    You can't fit tractor parts into an apartment mailbox, after all.

Well, because the enormous majority of mail I receive is shit, to say the least, there's a strong tendency I've developed to leave it in the back of the mailbox until... well, until I get damn good and ready.  After a period of months -- sometimes as many as six or eight -- the thing gradually gets jammed with Lowe's flyers, SuperFresh flyers, AAA Magazine, and paper copies of bills I've already paid online.

March 1, the rural carrier left me a note and said she couldn't fit any more mail in my box, and would I please clean it out, or they wouldn't be delivering any more.  Normally, I'd said scruit, see if I care, but since occasionally good things show up, like Savings Bonds and actual paper mail from people I care about, I figured it was time to clean the thing out.

After filling a contractor-size trash bag with the contents of the ShopVac and the contents of all the small trash cans in the house -- bathroom, bedroom, living room -- I hauled it across the road and dropped the lid of the megamailbox.

I got nearly 20 pounds of mail out of it, literally hundreds of pieces, ranging in size from magazines and course catalogs from the local community college down to those little "have you see me?" bulk mail blow-ins that let mailers send catalogs and flyers that aren't individually posted.  It took me around 20 minutes to go through it all, and some of it had been in there so long it had started to mildew from water leaking down into the mailbox through two tiny screw holes remaining from where I took Minnie's old nametag off the box years ago (I really should put putty in them).

Out of all those scores and scores of pieces of mail I pulled out and immediately dropped into the trash bag, do you know how many I decided to save?


One, a copy of my tax assessment for this year, since I can't look it up online.  Another, my membership renewal from the American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation.  The last, an invitation to my brother's pool party, last August.  I didn't go.

So, 20 pounds of complete waste.  All those store flyers I didn't read, all those bills I already knew about, the self-serving promotional magazines I never read, the "important information about my mortgage" I ignored (from companies I never heard of, who wanted to get my refinance business).

What did you throw away with malice today?

Worse, what did you send to someone, or print, on paper, that you didn't have to?


Thanks.  I have plenty of trash bags.

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2. Turtle03/13/2006 06:30:07 PM

Are they the true Americans or are they Chinese or Chinese/American crosses? The neat thing about ACCF is that they're trying to breed a resistant all-American variant to counter some of the undesirable traits in the Chinese variety.

Seedlings would be hard to ship, but seed NUTS are quite welcome. Remember, I live in the original range of the eastern American chestnut... right at the top of the Blue Ridge. The beams in my house are 175-year-old chestnut and they'll wear out a tunsten-carbide drill bit in no time and produce a smell most people have never experienced.

3. Dinah Davis03/13/2006 01:54:31 PM
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Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation?

Wild. I didn't know this group existed. I live in Oregon, which has quite a few survivors of the Great Chestnut Blight. In fact, my parking strip sports a HUGE (100-year-old?) chestnut tree that supports many squirrels and makes yard cleanup a Herculean task.

Need any seedlings? We have PLENTY.

4. Clay Goforth03/13/2006 11:59:05 AM

Maybe you need a shredder attachment

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