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The Christmas mailbox saga

Bob Garner
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Bob Garner

Bob, Ruthie, CP at Christmas Concert.jpg
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Sunday, December 24, 2017

I badly needed a new mailbox for Christmas.

At a big-box home-improvement store, I found not only the mailbox itself but a kit for the post and cross post. It’s hollow, satin-finish polyvinyl, and the upright slips over a treated pine post (sold separately). Simple.

I excitedly bought the box and kit but didn’t have the time to visit the lumber department. The next day, I discovered a fat fly in the ointment at the big-box branch closer to my house.

The nation’s second largest retail home-improvement and appliance chain doesn’t cut 4-inch by 4-inch posts to the 4-foot length recommended on the manufacturer’s packaging illustration. It’s apparently a safety issue.

Miserably un-handy, I didn’t figure out I could simply buy a 6-foot, untrimmed 4 by 4, dig the post hole slightly deeper than recommended and let more of the the treated wood post extend above ground inside the PVC sleeve. Duh!

But that still didn’t excuse the unconcerned looks from the cadre of lumber department employees I assembled around me, at least not to me.

“Guys, how are you going to help me solve my problem?”

“We can sell you a power saw so you can cut it yourself.”

“Why not use that saw in your own custom-cut department?”

“Naw, it can be dangerous. They don’t want employees cutting their arms off.”

I wasn’t comforted by the prospect of buying an unaffordable power saw that could cut my arms off.

Finally, a light came on in one pair of eyes. A guy called a competitor, Greenville’s Garris Evans Lumber Company, which promised to cut the post for me.

It was beginning to shape up like a Christmas story. Especially when Garris Evans refused to charge me for the 4-foot trimmed lumber “because of my inconvenience.”

The saga took on more holiday overtones when my neighbor came over, dug the hole and plumbed the post all nice and straight for me.

The two GMs were responsive to my store feedback. They agreed with the idea of posting local substitute instructions in their mailbox departments. One even suggested they might contact the manufacturer to suggest altering the installation illustration on the box’s exterior to substitute a 6-foot post. When a major national account calls; small, start-up firms usually listen.

We’ll see about follow through. I’ll visit the lumber department with a photo of my new mailbox, all decorated with a Christmas spray and bow, hoping to promote “customer experience” inspiration.

Garris Evans Lumber will get home-baked sugar cookies, the kind neighbor will get home-smoked barbecue and the lumber department guys will get a “Bless Your Heart.”

No, I’ll take them home-baked cookies, too. It is Christmas.

Bob Garner is a UNC-TV restaurant reviewer, freelance food writer, author of four cookbooks, barbecue pit master and public speaker. Visit this column on reflector.com for video of Bob making cookies and a link to the recipe.

 

TEACHABLE MOMENT

Blonde granddaughter Clara Pierce was lovely at the Orchestra 1 recital: 2 scales and “Jingle Bells.”

This was also the Christmas/holiday concert. And it was another little blonde-haired girl who really captured my rat race-bruised heart.

Four hundrend relatives and friends noisily tittered. A kindergartener, front-row right, was petrified to be on stage. Her bewildered look crumpled into quiet sobs as the opening song began.

The teacher immediately jogged to the little girl’s side, kneeling to eye level and stroking her head with her right hand, cheerfully conducting with her left. It didn’t work well musically, true.

But it made my Christmas.

As to conducting, the teacher conducted herself exquisitely. She probably taught more in an impulsive gesture than she ever has with music instruction. And she’s the best music teacher I’ve ever seen in 60 years of observing.

Ironically, she jokingly presents as a hard-boiled, New York Jew. She had taught several Hanukkah songs to accompany Christmas carols and secular holiday favorites. But she reinforced the core of my faith — and hers — without having to say “love.”

Hint: Her name is Melissa. Everyone adores her.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, everyone.

Postbox Movie from Bob Garner on Vimeo.

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