Letter boxes. A hole in the door. 'What could be simpler?' you think. However, if you have to push things through them all day to earn your money, you soon will learn that there are many different types, or 'breeds' of letter boxes, each as dangerous as the last.
Sticky Letter Boxes
So called because they stick. You are usually forced to lever it open with some kind of blade, which then shreds whatever you are trying to post through. The resident will then think you have been reading their mail, and ring up your boss to complain.
Letter Boxes with a Spring
These have a spring cleverly inserted in the flap so that it springs shut, preventing any cold breezes entering the house. They come in two sub-categories:
- Very Dangerous
The very dangerous category tends to chop letters in half. The deadly category tends to chop fingers in half. The resident of the house will then ring up your boss and complain on one of the following grounds :
- They have only received half of their very important letter.
- They have received all of their very important letter, but they cannot read it as it is covered in blood and what appears to be a severed thumb.
Letter Boxes with another Flap on the Inside
This breed of letter box has another flap on the inside to stop the odd breeze drifting through. It appears to be a variant of the sticky letter box and this lulls you into a false sense of security. When you put the letter through it doesn't open, so you have to push your hand though to open it. This can of course have dire consequences if the letter box falls within another category such as 'letter box with a spring' or 'letter box with a dog on the inside'. Please refer to these for more information.
Letter Boxes with Draught Excluders on the Inside
Same problems as above. Fine if you are pushing through something bulky like a newspaper, but hell if you only have one very thin leaflet.
Letter Boxes With a Porch
These happen when the owner has put a porch in front of the door. When you approach, you are faced with a dilemma - do you push the letters through the letter box on the porch, or do you open the porch, and stick them through the door's letter box. It's a tough problem, and one that many a postman has lost a night's sleep over.
Letter Boxes that have a Dog on the Inside
The dog inside will always jump up and try and pull the letter through, as well as the hand which is holding it1. Helpful stickers on the inside of the door such as 'My Cuddly Rottweiler' do not help very much. The owner of the house will also ring up your boss and complain that you have torn up their letter. These letter boxes also have an uncanny ability to turn into one of the two following categories:
Letter Boxes that have a Dog Outside
The dog will invariably appear round the corner just as you get to the door, then chase you down the garden path. This is always at least ten times longer than it was when you walked up it, even thought you are now returning down it ten times faster. Helpful stickers depicting a German Shepherd accompanied by the slogan 'I can make it to the gate in 10 seconds, Can you?', also do not help.
Letter Boxes that are on the Gate
A friendlier variant of 'Letter boxes that have a Dog Outside', where the owner has put a letter box on the gatepost, thus letting you avoid all the hassle of fighting off the dog.
Letter Boxes that have a Basket on the Inside
A similar answer as the one above, but this time for 'Letter boxes that have a Dog on the Inside'. The problem with baskets is if the owner is on holiday then these baskets get full after only a few days. When the owner gets back, they will ring up and complain that their letters and/or newspaper are soggy from exposure to the weather.
Letter Boxes that Belong to a Toff
Toffs2 live in houses that have very long driveways. If you try to take a bike or van up their drive, they will complain to your boss. They are usually in another category, making them even more deadly.
Letter Boxes that Belong to a Lunatic
These letter boxes cannot usually be reached, as the owner of the house has put barbed wire fencing and broken bottles everywhere. These letter boxes also usually fall under the category of 'Letter boxes that have a Dog Outside'. If you do, by some miracle, get past these minor problems, you will find a sign on the door that says:
No Jehovah's Witnesses
No Door-to-Door Salesmen
You will then have to battle your way back past the garden that looks more like a missile testing site than a front lawn. The owner of the house will then ring up your boss and complain about them employing giant pink rats to deliver letters.
Letter Boxes that Do not Exist
These are slightly more friendly than the others because they cannot inflict physical harm on you. The only choice you have when confronted with a door without a letter box is to knock on the door and deliver the letters personally, or, if they are out, you probably have to leave them on the doorstep of wedged under a flower pot. The owner of the house will then ring up to complain that their letters are strewn all over the garden.
Letter Boxes that Are the Size of Postage Stamps
It is a wonder why people have these letter boxes. They can't possibly expect someone to get anything through them. You are usually forced to resort to the same techniques used with 'Letter boxes that do not exist', unless you are delivering, say, samples of shampoo by themselves.
Letter Boxes at the Bottom of the Door
To reach these you have to bend down to stick it through. This will usually make everything in your bag fall out onto the driveway.
Normal Letter Boxes
These are the rarest type of all. They are a hole in the door with a flap on the outside. They are the right size to fit a letter through. There is no dog on the grounds. They do not chop your fingers off. A postman's greatest dream3.