Monday, October 6, 2003

by Jessica Delfino

Lisa found a pile of mail on the ground today while walking to the 6 train at 77th St. She noticed it out of the corner of her eye as she was walking by the mailboxes at 3rd Avenue and 77th. It was a thick stack, lots of important looking pieces of mail bound together by a pair of industrial sized elastics. She got so excited when she picked up the mail. It was like she'd found something really special. Anything could have been in that pile. "I'm so nosy," she thought to herself as she imagined tearing every piece open and reading every letter, finding out how much Mr. Harris at 344 77th St. owes on his phone bill, finding out what the Motor Vehicle Dept. wanted with Hillary Somarkin, but most of all, she really want to read the card with the Thanksgiving sticker pasted across the back flap, addressed in colorful marker obviously, by a child. She started racking her brain. "What can I do with this pile of mail? What can I do with it besides read it and then throw it away?" Maybe she could take the pieces that looked important and read them, and dump the rest of them in a mail box, she thought. She knew that fucking with the US Mail is a felony, and she didn't need any more trouble. She'd already fought to escape two other felonies, one for international drug smuggling which was nothing more than driving into Canada with a joint in her purse, and grand theft larceny which had been a bit more complicated, but she had been a minor and had good grades, and was able to wriggle out of it fairly easily with only a few hundred hours of volunteer service.

As she walked, she thought. Maybe it would be fun to open every piece of mail and try to figure how all the people in the stack related, including who the mail was going to, who it was coming from and who it was about. She'd been walking for about three minutes, dreaming about what she was going to do with the huge stack of mail when she saw a mail mistress standing beside a mail box. She held out the stack to her and said, "I found this on the street." The mail mistress looked very alarmed and looked over the pile, eyeing Lisa a bit suspiciously. "You found this?" she said. "Yes," Lisa insisted. "On the corner at 77th and 3rd." The mail mistress took her headphones out of her ears for a minute and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. "It's not mine," she said. "He must have dropped a pile on his route. OK, I'll take this," she said. "Thank you."

Lisa walked away feeling happy that she'd done a good deed, but she was also a little bit miffed because she had really wanted to read the Thanksgiving card. She imagined all the people who would be getting their mail in a day or two thanks to her having picked up the pile and not putting it into her purse to take home with her. She wondered if someone else might have wanted to read it too, the way she had. Would someone else have wanted to do the same thing? She wasn't bad, was she? Was she normal? She'd never felt normal, not for one day, not one day in her whole life. But she had grown to accept that. There was nothing she could do about the way she felt, and she had been able to make friends and find her way in the world, so what was there to fix, then? She walked to the corner of 77th street and looked around the huge crowd of people, imagining the likeliness of Mr. Harris or Hillary being among them.

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