Last summer, I started handing out cold bottled water to the mail carrier on a slew of super hot days. It’s not unusual for me to be home during the day, especially in the afternoon when mail is delivered so I was able to do this. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. I guess I thought the mail carriers took care of themselves if I thought about it at all. One mail carrier I know who delivers another route showed me how he brings a cooler of chilled water with him in the mail truck. Maybe seeing that planted a notion in my mind.
When we had the occasional substitute I’d offer them water too. Nobody ever said no. They stop, look me in the eyes and say thank you. They seem so grateful. I know the feeling.
It’s a strange thing, but some of the strongest memories I have are times I was so parched and somebody handed ME a bottle of cold water or refilled my water bottle. I still remember how grateful I was ten years ago on a day I was participating in an outdoor festival and couldn’t leave my spot when an acquaintance handed me a 32 ounce bottle of water he’d bought. It was such a thoughtful gesture. I glugged it down.
It’s the simplest thing. The most basic need. You don’t think about it until you don’t have it.
This summer I was ready. Earlier in July I hauled home a 24-pack of bottled water from the store. Wedged it into my “wheelie cart” and pulled that sucker the mile to home. Don’t feel sorry for me – all exercise is GOOD exercise. It all counts. (People often want to dissuade me from exerting myself but baby, doin’ this sort of thing keeps me lean-n-mean. I want to as long as I can.)
My regular mail carrier seems to be AWOL this summer, perhaps gone permanently, and substitutes have been the norm. I’ve seen carriers I’ve never laid eyes on before. On wicked hot days, if I don’t greet them at the door, I might leave a chilled bottle with a note “For mail carrier” in the mailbox after I see the truck coming. I am so tickled when I see the water is gone.
I couldn’t stop there. The UPS guys, who work like the devil is after them with a pitchfork, and who habitually show up late in the day, clearly after hours of sweaty labor, are also water recipients. The only ones I haven’t offered water to yet are the Amazon delivery guys. In winter I saw my first “Amazon van.” Does your area have these? They are extra-long white vans with the Amazon logo printed on them. They are zooming daily all over my town now. Amazon makes me think of Wonka. Anyway, the Amazon delivery guys look a little rough and not too friendly so I’ve held back. But I want to be fair so maybe one of these days….
Doling out water is such a little thing but it creates a connection, a small meaningful interaction. It’s no trouble to me – the 24-pack of water cost about $2.50 on sale – and I feel like I’m doing something good. Recognizing someone’s humanity is always good. And it’s too easy sometimes to look past the humanity of service people. They are often in the background. Until they screw up – then we notice them. I’m GLAD I get mail delivery. Hell, they even dropped the price of a stamp! Did you know that?! I about fell out. Anyway, I am a strong believer in the importance of small gestures, like remembering to act like a decent human being not perpetually wrapped up in my own troubles and wants.