I realize that I am lucky to have been born in the United States. I didn’t understand the magnitude of my good fortune until I lived in Mexico for a few years. Don’t get me wrong—Mexico is a great place to live, absorb culture and increase language competency. I’m not writing to bash any country. I’m just pointing out that a trip to the post office can be a radically different experience depending on the location.
What I mean is here in the U. S., I have a car and a good job. That gives me the ability to go to the store when I wish or to the post office. I remember when I was in Mexico I’d chat with friends and family who would remind me to check the mail. That could be a major day trip in some cases in Mexico. The small town where we lived didn’t even have a post office. I had a Suburban to drive, but I didn’t always have the pesos to put gas in the tank. That meant I had to spent a few pesos to ride the bus from the village to the city of Mérida. I was also at the mercy of the bus schedule. Usually one left on the hour if the drivers were on time.
The bus trip itself took about 45 minutes each way on a good day, not counting traffic or maybe oppressive heat. (Sometimes the heat alone would leave me melting in my hammock! Forget travel on days like those!) Are you with me so far? We haven’t made it to the post office yet! To get there, I would have to get off of the bus at the corner about ten blocks away from the actual post office. I’d either wait for a city bus or I could walk. If it was a cooler day, I’d walk. I knew I was getting close when I passed the police station. Once at the post office, I’d chat with Doña Landy as I checked the mail. The ladies there took good care of us.
Since Mexico is a warm place and I spent time walking, I’d need to get a Coca Cola before boarding another bus to go to the centro (downtown area) to take the bus home again. I always thought it best to make a morning trip to the city if I had to go. At least that way, I might be home by early afternoon before the full heat wave hit. By the time all was said and done, a simple trip to the post office would have cost me a lot of effort and probably at least half the day.
The next time you check your mail, remind yourself that things aren’t always as easy as they seem.