What was supposed to be just an ordinary Thursday turned out to be an unexpected, heroic mail route.
- Posted on Aug 24, 2020
Children played in the yards along the block. I waved to them as I walked by, delivering mail at houses along the way. Just an ordinary Thursday afternoon. I turned up the next walkway. The lady who lived there opened the door wide. “Hello,” she said. I knew what she was waiting for. “I’ve got your book club selection,” I said, handing over her package.
There were only about 700 people on my route. Over the years I’d gotten to know most of them, if not in person then by their mail. There were the folks who got magazines, or book after book, those who loved their catalogues, some who had steady pen pals. Mrs. Dorman at the end of my route got a package from the Home Shopping Network almost every day. She was an older lady, and I liked being able to bring a little joy into her life with my delivery.
Some mailmen preferred routes where they drove a truck and slipped the mail into a collection of mailboxes without seeing anyone face-to-face. Not me. I wanted to be outside talking to people. Where the excitement was.
Except to be honest, there wasn’t much excitement on a local postal route like mine. Besides a sudden rainstorm or a white Christmas, every day was pretty much the same. I tucked a bundle into the next mailbox and noticed a postcard on top from Hawaii. Maybe I’m missing out on the real action of life, I thought, wishing I was there.
I continued down the block. I knew I provided an important service in my job. College acceptances, birthday presents, postcards from all corners of the world—they could all make someone’s day. I also brought doctor bills and insurance notices. Mrs. Dorman down the street got her blood pressure pills and blood test kits for diabetes in the mail. Convenient, yes. But I was just the messenger, showing up every day like clockwork. It wasn’t me who was making a difference in people’s lives. Not me personally. A friendly hello, a chat with a lonely person. That was the most I could offer. That should have been enough, but the routine was getting to me.
I dug in my bag for Mrs. Dorman’s mail—and the inevitable Home Shopping Network package. She’d be glad to get this, whatever it was. Mrs. Dorman often waited for me at the door and we always had a nice talk. Once a few years back I’d mentioned I’d noticed she got a lot of cards each August. Turns out, we shared a birthday. Now we never forgot to wish each other happy returns. This year she’d turned 78.
Mrs. Dorman wasn’t at the door today, but I heard the TV going inside so I knew she was home. Probably watching her shopping shows, I thought. I fit all the envelopes into her mailbox, then bent down to put the package by the door.
I froze. What was that? Something like a cry, barely audible. I leaned closer to the door. Maybe the sound came from the TV?
“Mrs. Dorman?” I called.
No answer. But then—that same faint cry.
I tried to open the storm door, but it was locked. So I pressed my ear against it. This time I clearly heard words: “Help me.”
I pushed against the storm door until the latch broke. Luckily the wooden door behind it wasn’t locked. I pushed it open and stepped into the house, not sure what I might find.
Mrs. Dorman lay face down in the hallway, not far from the door. An armchair had fallen on top of her. Her arm was caught in it.
“I…think…” she said weakly. She seemed to be having trouble breathing—probably from the heavy chair on top of her. I carefully moved it, gently disentangling her arm before calling 911. “I think I dislocated my shoulder,” she whispered.
“Do you know if she has any medical conditions?” the operator asked me.
“Yes, she’s diabetic,” I said, remembering all those test kits. “And has high blood pressure.”
The EMTs arrived fast. They lifted Mrs. Dorman onto a stretcher and carried her to the ambulance. I called work and told them I would be a little late finishing my route.
Mrs. Dorman was back home within a few days, her broken shoulder in a sling. Some of her family members came to stay and look after her. I was sure happy the day she greeted me at the door herself again.
“I was watching TV on Thursday morning and lost my balance getting up,” she explained. “I tried to grab the chair. Instead it came down on top of me. It happened around eleven-fifteen. What time did you come by?”
“Four-thirty,” I said. “I wish I’d been here sooner!”
“That’s okay,” Mrs. Dorman said. “All that time I was praying. Praying for you. I knew you’d come just like you do every day. That’s what gave me comfort.”
It was just an ordinary Thursday. And that was extraordinary.
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