in the neighborhood

Some days it feels like I’ve been through all the strangers. This is a logical impossibility of staggering proportions, and yet the feeling lingers against all rationality. Today is one of those days, and so I set out hunting. I walk slower. I smile at everyone. Nobody’s biting. Finally, in a patch of sun along the sidewalk, I catch the postman’s eye. He’s the kind who drives around in a truck and leaves a trail of dreaded orange slips behind him, requiring trips to the post office, and who wants that punishment. Despite his devil’s errands, he’s cheerful, and we talk about the snow for a while.

“The worst part,” he says, “is after people clean up.”

“Really?” I’m not following his logic.

He winks, and points at the little mountain of packed ice that makes a border between the clean sidewalk and the cleared street. “It’s one of those things, a paradox, right? Everyone thinks they’re doing good, but they’re just leaving these glaciers in my way.”

Then he picks his way over the mound of dirty snow as gracefully as a dancer, boards the truck, and drives away.


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