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More Dogs on Main Street

Since my recent move from Park City to Woodland, there are so many details to take care of. Well, OK, the move wasn’t so recent. It was 22 years ago, but we can’t rush things. One of the little details left over from the big move is that I still have my post office box on Main Street. I’ve had my box at the Main Street Post Office for 25 years now. It’s been part of the fabric of life to go to the P.O. and, more often than not, throw all the mail away.

The fact is that everything that matters gets delivered out to the house. There are only a couple of things I care about still coming to the box along with a ton of junk mail. But there has been something very pleasant about the errand of going to the post office. I’ve had roughly the same conversation with one of Park City’s older residents nearly every day for 25 years. That’s pretty much the extent of the relationship, a short and repetitive conversation at the post office, but I’ve kept tabs on the ups and downs of his health and well being for years that way. If I’m picking up the mail and don’t see him, I always wonder if everything is OK.

You can find the regulars there at the same time every day. Of course, with the new post offices opened up, there are fewer people there I recognize these days. The town has changed a bit in the last 25 years. But the people at the Main Street Post Office are still providing small-town service. I still occasionally get mail addressed to my old house on Ontario Avenue — the street address — where I haven’t lived for 22 years. It lands in my box. The best service was a couple of years back when I got an express mail package sent to my box. Doris, who worked there for years, knew I was out in Woodland. She lived in Francis. So I got a call saying the important package was there, and she would take it home with her so I could pick it up from her house in Francis, saving a special trip into town.

I’m all nostalgic about the P.O. this week because I’m being evicted. They are replacing the little boxes with bigger boxes that will hold even more Shopko ads and discount coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond. Mine is one of the boxes that is going to post office box heaven. The number will simply cease to exist as the boxes on either side of mine expand. The options are clear. I can get a new box number, which is on the row above where I’ve been for 22 years, or I can finally close out the box and just get all the mail at home. Either one requires using the dreaded "change of address" kit. I can’t help but take it personally. When my number is drawn in life’s lottery, it isn’t for the $20 million power ball — it’s the elimination of my P.O. box number. I guess I could pretend that they are retiring my number, and will be hanging the door to my box up in the rafters like Karl Malone’s jersey at the Delta Center.

So I guess I’ll just have to throw away my junk mail elsewhere.

Speaking of throwing away, I can’t believe what slobs we Americans are. We did our annual neighborhood cleanup a while back, and the amount of garbage on the side of the highway was just astounding. Fast food wrappers, beverage containers, motor oil cans, and just plain garbage everywhere. My first impulse was to blame it all on the winter snowmobile traffic, and assume that snowmobilers were more likely to throw garbage out. But I suspect that the Gu packages, Cliff Bar wrappers and bike tubes were flung by a more aerobic brand of slob. The two-stroke engine motor oil jugs, though, I’m pretty sure were left by the ‘bilers.

Construction workers seem especially prone to littering. There has been a house under construction a couple of lots down the street from me. These guys would throw their garbage on the ground even if they had to climb over the dumpster to get it there. There are only two of us who live on the street, but during the construction, I could fill a grocery bag with trash almost every day, just walking out to the mailbox. The job site and the vacant lots on either side of it were covered with garbage through the entire construction project. There were enough empty Mountain Dew bottles scattered around that it was hard to walk without stepping on one. The painters set up a little picnic ground on the neighbor’s front lawn, and mucked out their truck leaving piles of receipts, bids and other scraps of paper blowing in the wind.

The ultimate was last week. I was driving out and saw a truck from Utah Power on the side of the highway. One guy rolled down the window and pitched out the refuse of his lunch, right on the side of the road. I gathered it up as he watched out of the rear view mirror. Then I called Utah Power.

I got a call back the next morning from his supervisor, assuring me that the employee was on his way out to clean it up. Maybe word will filter out that it is culturally unacceptable to throw garbage out the car window. Like that’s a new idea or something.

Among life’s lessons, "don’t litter" seems like one that follows closely behind learning to use the bathroom. It really shouldn’t be that hard. So whether you are the toughest redneck construction worker, the leanest cyclist on two wheels, or the parent shocked to find that your precious infant produces dirty diapers, clean up your mess.


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