When you live in a rural or suburban area that requires that you have a roadside mailbox, you can expect to lose one occasionally, either from vandalism, a snowplow or an errant driver. I have learned from past experience that when you do have one damaged or destroyed, there is a strong possibility that you will have to replace it at your own expense. It’s a rare person who would actually come to your door, especially at night, and tell you what had just happened.
Twenty-odd years ago, we lived west of Allentown on state Route 81.I looked out one evening and saw a snowmobile stopped in front of the house, and the driver was crouching down, apparently working on his machine. The next morning, I found that what he was actually doing was pulling off parts of my mailbox that he had just hit and destroyed. A little investigation led me to be pretty sure who the driver was, but I could never prove it, so I had to buy a new one myself. Imagine my surprise when I recently lost a mailbox that had lasted for 19 years, and the driver who hit it actually rang my doorbell to tell me.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve, we were about to retire for the night because we were leaving for Madison, Wis., at 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. We were surprised by the ringing of the front doorbell, and when I answered the door, a man standing on my porch said, “I’m Dave Brunk, and I own the Bi-Rite Garage Door Company west of Elida.”
I immediately thought was that it was a little late to be ringing doorbells to sell garage doors. Then he just about floored me when he said, “I just hit your mailbox with my truck.”
I followed him to the street and found that the mailbox was indeed damaged, including the door being knocked off, but it was still standing. After giving me his address and phone number, the man told me that he would buy me a new mailbox. I told him that I would examine the damage in daylight and determine if that was necessary. I managed to re-install the door, but I couldn’t check it in daylight until several days later. When I did, I called Dave and told him that it would have to be replaced and gave him the name and model number of the box. He said he would order one.
I have to admit that past experience, including the almost automatic skepticism that develops after 60 years of being a police officer, caused me to wonder if I would ever see a replacement without purchasing it myself. After not hearing from him for over a week, I finally called Dave, and he told me that he had the mailbox, but he had not been feeling well and didn’t want to call me until he could help me install it.
Shock No. 2, he not only told me about the box, but he bought a replacement and wanted to help me install it. I told him that help was not necessary, so I picked up the new mailbox and installed it myself. I will always be thankful to Dave Brunk for doing something that far too many people today would not do, the right thing.
Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. He writes a guest column for The Lima News, often focusing on police matters.