You won't find inner peace in your mailbox

I'm not easily annoyed. In fact, when I tried to come up with a list of things that make me angry, I had a tough time getting beyond what my dog did on the rug last night.

I wish I could attribute that to my overall happiness as a person and sense of purpose on earth, but it's really probably more related to my ability to forget quickly the things I don't wish to think about. That and a well-developed system of rationalizing situations that in earlier years might have had me emitting strings of words normally represented in family publications by strings of random punctuation marks.

Bad drivers, for example, are an easy one. That elderly lady stopped in the roundabout with her turn signal flashing ... I just visualize it as being my mother, and instantly any irritation disappears (in fact, I have to suppress the urge to get out and give the poor lady a hug).

Yesterday, however, reminded me that I'm far from being a Zen master when it comes to peace of mind. Little things still have the ability to burrow deeply into my psyche and explode into shards of razor-sharp glass. Little things like the advertising fliers that get put in my mailbox every Wednesday.

It's not the advertising itself that gets me ... I happen to be in a business that depends upon it. The problem is that I have one of those Kleenex-box-sized mailboxes in a communal location. So the nightly routine is that I drive up, usually in the dark, fumble for the right mailbox key, Braille read myself to the right box among many and feel for the letters inside.

Every Wednesday, however, there is miraculously no real mail. On that day every week, it's stuffed with several of those flimsy glossy fliers that have unrolled themselves to cling tightly to the metal sides of the interior. So the routine is to reach in and attempt to find an edge to get a finger underneath the papers and gracefully remove the whole bunch. If things go well - they never do - the entire things slides out in a neat stack to be read at my leisure.

What really happens is that I don't find the edge, immediately become frustrated based upon many previous Wednesdays of frustration and resort to using brute force to wrest the fliers out into a ripped and wrinkled ball, usually while uttering a string of ... punctuation marks. This now creates another chore upon pulling into the garage ... finding a garbage can where I can deposit the unreadable mess.

My assumption is that the lack of real mail in my box on Wednesdays is because mail carriers realize that it would become camouflaged by the junk that dominates the bulk of the space and get tossed in the trash, which is true, so they just deliver it on Thursday instead. But I have no proof of that and for all I know it's merely a coincidence. In the hypothetical world where it would be true, hypothetical Barry would happen upon the mailbox at the same time as the mail carrier and urge that person to please keep the Wednesday junk mail and give me my real mail, a proposal to which the carrier would cheerfully agree. Those of us cursed with tiny mailboxes should be given relief.

OK, it's possible that I am, sometimes, easily annoyed.

Take for example the auto warranty phone calls. About two of them every day at my desk, most recently this afternoon. I pick up the phone, say cheerfully (unless it's Wednesday and I've just wrestled the fliers from my little mailbox), something to the effect of "Nevada Appeal, this is Barry, how can I help you ..." and the recorded voice on the other end responds, something to the effect of "Your vehicle warranty is about to expire ..." It takes all my restraint to keep from smashing the phone down because I've just been conned into being cheerful to a machine somewhere in the 916 area code.

Those auto warranty calls, by the way, were the subject of a press release from the state Attorney General's Office recently. It said the calls have been "bombarding Nevada consumers over the past several months," and - to summarize the next several hundred words of the press release - you should slam down the phone if one of them comes to you. And then, if you haven't done so already, get your number on the do-not-call registry by calling toll free (888) 382-1222.

I must confess that this column did not write up anything like I'd intended. My original idea was to write about how, in spring, in the midst of all the unfolding possibilities symbolized by blossoms and blooms, there's almost nothing that can make me angry.

But now I'm just annoyed.

• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. You can reach him at 881-1221 or


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