Educated People Have Their Moments Part II

B picThe mailbox needs replacing. There it stands, a standard plastic mailbox at the street, sitting atop a decorative post. The box is black, and the pull down door is missing, doubtless from decades of use by my wife’s parents who lived there. It’s a beaten looking box, ready for the new one, but mailbox replacement can be low on one’s priority list in the shuffle of moving. It’s distressing though to look into a mailbox without its cover. It just looks so ill clad and helpless, besides which little details are part of life, both in form and function. The form part can even include the cosmetic, because no matter how educated people are, women still wear jewelry, and men adjust their belt buckles to line up with their zippers.

OK, so what’s the problem here? The mailbox is functional, but yesterday’s 50 paces to the box revealed a new surprise. Inside was a stack of mail for the resident across the street, whose box is on the odd side, even though the house is an even number.

Old mailbox

Old mailbox (Photo credit: daniel spils)

One problem is now two problems, and there’s gotta be a law somewhere that says when two problems exist, a previously existing third problem becomes irritatingly evident. So now the box is missing its front flap, plus it has a pile of mail addressed to the person across the street. Now the third problem is glaring. In life, we try not to see details that hopefully ignoring can resolve. As I stood looking at my pitiful mailbox at the house we’re soon to move into, the faded white streaks of bird drizzle stood out along the front and back of each side. Strangely, the middle section of the box remained pristine, though faded black from years of sun beating down on the box.

I knew that the box is to be replaced, so the question of a makeshift flap was not on the do-list, and bleaching off the bird art was not a priority either. Getting the right mail to the right box took me over. How could I help the carrier? One white marker or crayon could solve it by writing the numerals on that pristine area on each side of the box.

A search in the house turned up no marker or crayon. Sometimes, the educated person has to think like a child. What would a child do? A child would go to the children’s art supplies. In the process of moving, all of those, materials used by the grandchildren had been packed in a box. My wife, Tandy, said, “I can find them in two minutes if you bring me a knife to cut the tape on this box.” She not only knew where the box was but had labeled it, a fact that proves that wisdom can even supersede education at times.

Crayon Bin - 40/365 - 9 February 2011

Crayon Bin – 40/365 – 9 February 2011 (Photo credit: John Flinchbaugh)

Sure enough, inside the box was a small decorative tin, and in it was a white crayon. Joy can be in small packages. Crayon in hand, I went straight to the mail box and started forming the numerals on each side of the box. Crayon on plastic may not be a standard medium, and so this took repetition. Irritation at having to retrace the numerals over and over gave way to the feel of the crayon tip sliding over previous layers of crayon until each numeral stood out boldly. There is no “Control B” when manually applying crayon. But then, just as a keyboard has its tactile sensation, the swirling and linear motions with the crayon offered a kinesthetic and rhythmic pleasure. Not only that, a plan had come together, and a problem had been solved. The missing flap and the bird art would soon be solved with a new box.

Quadratic Equation

Quadratic Equation (Photo credit: ianqui)

Walking the 50 paces back up the driveway, I couldn’t have been happier if I had solved a quadratic equation. I know that sounds shallow, but sometimes it’s true. And besides, whoever invented quadratic equations probably started with smaller problems first, one step at a time, which is a hallmark of education and always will be.


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