My last Christmas card of the year landed on my desk, battered and worse for the wear, with a hand-written note on yellow-lined notebook paper.
The address was over a year old, and mail-forwarding has been expired for months.
The card had been delivered, though, and then, for whatever reason, left to blow away in the wind.
Someone picked it out of the grass, and recognized my name. She, or he, or they, gave it to one of the owners of the newspaper, who brought it in to the newsroom.
My coworker left it on my desk for me.
It made me laugh. When the mail system can’t pull through, trust a small town to finish the job.
I’d like to think that the person who found the card recognized my name from my byline. But that presumes too much of our readers, most of whom really don’t look at who wrote the story unless it’s to complain, or suggest a related story, or, on rare and special occasions, send a compliment.
In reality it was almost certainly my old neighbor, who I still pass often on the street, and who remembers me and always wants to stop and chat.
Strangely, a letter addressed to man in Nevada arrived in my mailbox just a couple days later. The town, state and zip code are all wrong; it was date stamped in Salina, Kansas. But the street address looks similar to mine. I guess it got tossed in the wrong container and by the time it made it out here, no one looked beyond that first line.
I circled the city-state-and-zipcode line and will put it back into the mail today. Hopefully it has better luck on the next leg of its journey.
And hopefully there’s a small town on the other end to give it a helping hand.