I Coulda Been…

Even if you’ve had, or are still having, the perfect career, you may find yourself wondering about other options you might have taken. I have been so lucky to have spent much of my adult life mediating. Come to think of it, I spent a lot of my not-adult life mediating, too, between parents, friends, roommates. I was always the one in the middle, seeing both sides, comfortable with the gray areas, knowing that black and white was too simple. It is wonderful, challenging, fascinating work, and for someone insatiably curious about people, it is perfect. But there have been times in the midst of a seemingly unresolvable dispute, or confronted by a particularly difficult participant, when my mind has wandered down the path not taken.

What would I rather be doing, I ask myself? And for decades what has popped into my head is “delivering mail.” I drive by a mail delivery person, bag slung across shoulder, or pushing a wire basket filled with mail, moving jauntily along, and I think how relaxing it would be to walk your beat, chatting with a neighbor or two, dropping mail in boxes or slots, breathing deep, enjoying the clouds, the flowers, the sun, the rain, the falling leaves, whatever the season brings. Maybe in the spring I would wear uniform shorts, revealing well-developed calves. Maybe I would even be whistling.

I coulda been…

The appeal of this career for me is obvious: 

  • Get exercise without going to a gym
  • Uniform provided, no agonizing decisions about what to wear
  • No conflicts to resolve. If neighbors are fighting, I just whistle and move on.
  • Contact with people is superficial, which doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It just means that I don’t have to know more than I want.
  • Everyone, almost, would be happy to see me. I would smile a lot, and say “you’re welcome” to the dozens of “thank you’s” every day.
  • Permission to be nosey. Who gets which catalogs, who actually still corresponds by letter, who gets the most Christmas cards, who peeks out from behind the curtain hoping to catch the mail before it hits the floor, who has pets, babies, teens, who likes classical, rock or Taylor Swift.
  • Opportunities to be a hero. Sometimes it’s the mail carrier who notices the mail piling up, or hears a cry for help inside the house, or smells smoke, or notices the family car has a flat tire, or finds a latch key child on the porch with no key. Just google “mail carrier saves” and you’ll find amazing feats, rescuing numerous elderly women who’ve fallen, saving a dog from a snake bite, catching a baby falling from a window. The possibilities for saving the day are endless.

But wait, there’s more. No reports to write, no meeting discussions to summarize, no agendas to draft, no long phone calls with distraught disputants, no flights to DC. Yes, it would be such a relief to have each day a completed task. Fill up basket in the morning, deliver during the day, fold up empty basket, and go home. Of course, the day might start earlier than I’d like, there might bickering at the post office about whose turn it is to make the coffee, a customer might accuse me of stealing her Vogue magazine, I might develop fallen arches, the weather might be sleet, rain and snow, … but I’d be out there doing my red-blooded American duty, and I’d be proud.

And what if I had chosen that fork in the road?  By now, would I be hobbling down the sidewalk, dragging my rickety basket of junk mail behind me, wishing for a nice cushy desk job, where I could give my feet a break, look at the raging weather through a window, have friendly colleagues to banter with, get to wear something that was red or purple or green for a change?

I’ll never know, cuz at my age the civil service examiner would burst out laughing. Or maybe she would offer me a nice desk job, in HR, mediating office squabbles.

No thanks. I’ll stay where I am.

12 thoughts on “I Coulda Been…”

  1. Thanks Lucy that was fun to read. My closest fantasy to your mail delivery is running a coffee shop where people hang out and visit, read books, and hold social gatherings. But I know running. A business would bring its own stress! i also fantasized about being a full time writer… I guess I am too social for that and haven’t been disciplined enough, but it’s not too late – you’ve shown us that we (mediators) can combine our work with writing a good story 😉
    thanks for sharing.

    1. How about being the social director of a coffee shop? No management/ownership responsibility, just being in charge of chatting and gathering. Sounds good to me. Can I be your assistant… after I finish my mail route?

    1. You’re welcome, Zenia. How about your fantasy career… although you may have already lived it, traveling the world, making connections across cultures, opening students minds and changing lives. Sounds pretty fantastic to me!

  2. I muse about driving a school bus. Getting to help get students (younger ones, like elementary age) start their “outside” day, when they encounter the rest of the world outside their parents.
    I’d roll up in the bright yellow bus, open the door and greet and welcome the kids in the bus for, hoping, a positive start to their day. I’d like being in the role of a safe, enthusiastic and positive adult who also provides healthy guidance.

    1. I love it! That is a great image and noble aspiration… and who knows… Next time I pull up next to a yellow school bus I’ll be looking at the driver and thinking of you…and maybe someday it will BE you!

  3. Sounds wonderful until you think about what “going postal” actually means…

    1. Ooops! didn’t think of that…but those are those guys (and gals) who are in the back dealing with the undeliverables, addressee unknown, etc, and working the customer counter with grouchy people. I would be out in nature, walking my beat, smiling faces everywhere…

  4. Lucy! I am your ‘sister’ in the postal dream. My family can attest. Seriously have had those thoughts. Today’s idea: I would like people to pay me buckets of money to come into their house and rearrange their furniture (including getting rid of bad furniture), buy and hang new art, and leave them in clean re-arranged bliss. Love to you in the new year and always. Nedra

    1. A postal sister! I’m so excited. Who knew?? And I love your latest fantasy, and if you decide to make it a reality, please consider me your first client. Good new year for you and your loved ones.

  5. Just loved reading this! Happy New Year sweet friend. I could not imagine you being/doing anything than what you are now! You are the perfect spot, maximizing your craft and making the rest of us smile! ♥️

    1. Thank you, dear Lucy! I love sharing names with you. You bring me a smile every time I think of you, which is often. It’s so amazing that we have never met in person and are so close. I feel a part of your family… or wish I were! love to you and yours.

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