It's been a little over six years since I last wrote about my mailbox getting bashed in, most likely by teenaged males seeking recreation. I'd replaced the box a few days before I wrote that post. Since then I've replaced it four more times. This afternoon I'll be doing it again for the fifth time in six years.
Each of the first couple of replacements was stronger, sturdier and more expensive than its immediate predecessor, and the steel frame of each one eventually crumpled up as easily as the others had. It stands to reason. If a fine automobile were struck by a baseball bat or a tire iron in the hands of a redneck boy hanging out the window of his buddy's pickup truck, the car would sustain significant damage. Why would I expect a mailbox to hold up any better?
Mailbox vandalism is so common it has its own Wikipedia page and its own news article on the United States Postal Service website. That's strangely reassuring. The first few times it happened I took it personally; it left me with a creepy, vulnerable feeling. Now it doesn't. Now it just makes me want to pinch some yahoos' heads off.
My mailbox sits next to two others on a structure that looks like a tall, wooden hitching post. A fourth box, attached to a metal post of its own, stands right in line with the other three. I have to admit that I understand why four mailboxes in a row, all at the same height, would make an attractive target for young males bent on destruction. It's all about the challenge; I get that. What I'll never understand is why some boys are so doggone stupid.
The mailbox I bought today is a hard-plastic one, the cheapest kind available at one of the big-box home improvement stores. The neighbor in front of me turned me on to this kind about three years ago when several of us had to get replacements at the same time after someone's night of ridiculous madcap adventure. The plastic ones are more resilient; they don't dent like the steel ones do. And if they do get cracked--or if the door gets broken off and thrown on the ground like mine and a next-door neighbor's did the other day--they're less costly to replace. The one I bought today is my third one of this style.
So, my neighbors and I have learned how to reduce the cost associated with repetitive acts of vandalism, and I'm less stressed when it happens than I used to be. There's still the matter of the inconvenience: the trip to town to buy a new mailbox, the time involved in taking the damaged box down and attaching the new one securely while traffic whizzes by, the day(s) when there's no mail delivery because there's no usable mailbox. It's annoying as all get out.
I live in a nice, safe, semi-rural area where a mailbox-bashing spree every year or so is the height of crime. That makes me lucky, I know. And I love my house. It isn't fancy, but it suits me, and coming home to it always feels great. If I could change one thing, I'd have a--no, wait, make that two things. First, I'd add another bathroom. Then (second thing) I'd want a mailbox like the kind they have in my sister's East Texas neighborhood:
Try to bash that, bozos!