Mario studies his worn out shoes before slipping his feet in. Black, worn-out and comfortable, this pair is in better condition than his former ones. This pair has it easy. His second-hand motorcycle did all the running and walking for him, unlike in the old days when he did all the running and walking for miles, scraping the soles of his shoes paper thin.
But then again, there is not much mail to deliver these days, just bills and letters of solicitation. Mario didn’t like these letters. Printed, sealed in uniform white long envelopes and very impersonal. They all looked the same, felt the same. Mario secures his bundle in his motorcycle compartment, a bundle of impersonal letters and a few parcels. Parcels always tickled him. There must be a parent or a child excitedly waiting for the promised parcel. There was a time, long ago, when children and parents anxiously looked out the window, waiting to see him walk up the driveway. “Oh, thank you, thank you for finally bringing it!” a parent would say. Or “Mr. Mailman, where is my toy?” a child would ask, disappointment written all over the child’s face when there is no parcel. There are only a few parcels allotted to him now.
Halfway through his route, Mario rests in a park. There are still several of the impersonal letters sitting in the compartment. He remembers a time when all colors and sizes of envelopes happily adorned his mailman’s bag. Those days, both men and women greeted him with smiles, the bringer of good tidings from their loved ones. He felt a certain pride then, knowing that people trusted him with their precious cargo and relied on him to deliver news from distant places, sought after stories and declarations of love and faithfulness. Oh, how excited men and women were to receive letters from their sweethearts! “Anything for me today, Mario?” was the usual greeting. There was a young man in particular who was most anxious to receive his mail from his fiancé. Every week, he would wait for Mario in his driveway with a big smile on his face. “Mario, my neighbors are beginning to think I’m falling in love with you!” the young man would tease as Mario hands over a perfume-scented envelope.
It was so different then. People took care in selecting the appropriate stationery or card and took time to carefully craft a letter. It was craft after all. The meticulous writing, using your favorite pen and the forming of thought and words to fill a page or two. He could always tell if the letter came from a man or a woman without reading the sender’s name. Women chose colorful, decorated envelopes and sealed the letters with much care. Men chose neutral envelopes and sealed the letters haphazardly. He smiles as he remembers how difficult it was to read the names and addresses of some. There were those too, who wrote in beautiful script, even elaborate calligraphy. Some were written brusquely and hurriedly, as if the sender cannot wait for the letter to reach its destination.
Mario sighed. These days, it was all done on the computer and internet. His grandson showed him how and he was surprised at the ease and speed. But Mario still didn’t like it. It was dangerously too fast: punch the keys and hit the send button. If you were not careful, you could so easily send words that you would regret later on. He heard that happened to one of his young colleagues. The young man punched the keys in anger and carelessly sent the letter. He regretted it, for his action burned a friendship of so many years. Imagine that, losing a dear friend because of carelessness. In the old days, that would not have happened. You would write, re-write and perhaps re-write again — not only to correct misspelled words but also to express your anger and frustration in concise words that would fill a few pages. Then, there was also the chance that your anger would have dissipated on your way to the post office.
Mario slipped the last of the white envelopes in a mailbox. These days, people did not look forward to the mail. He was not surprised. Who looks forward to opening their bills or reading run-of-the-mill letters of solicitation? Letters that did not even spell the person’s name properly?
A little over mid-day and Mario had run his route, just a few hours to deliver the nasty white envelopes. Mario steers his motorcycle to the office parking space. He should not complain. With work over, he had more time to write his children and grandchildren. But first he had to choose the stationery for each. His granddaughter Melissa liked bold colors but Carlo preferred blue. What stories should I write them, Mario wonders. His eyes twinkle as he enters the office.