I used to be a mailman. I was a carny until I got fired, but that’s a short story for another day. One summer, I delivered mail in Framingham, Massachusetts with the jeep and the little shorts and the visor and I was horrible. I was so slow and inefficient that by the end of the day I had to sprint as fast as I could to finish my route. It was like that scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where he is jumping fences and leaping bushes. I hated being a mailman, but there is one thing I have always loved about mail, the Christian leave behind.
Are you familiar with this move? This is where you leave some cash in an envelope in someone’s mailbox. Instead of giving it directly to them and risking them refusing to accept it, you just tuck it quietly in their mailbox.
It’s actually a really beautiful thing when executed correctly. And there’s the rub. Despite being extremely simple, it can actually be kind of difficult. If only there were a web site where someone sarcastic laid out steps on how to do things like this. If only.
How to do a mailbox leave behind:
1. Never leave a check.
I wish I didn’t have to write this, but I know this happens. Your checks have your name on them. If you decide not to leave cash you might as well honk your horn while you are leaving the check and yell out of your car window, “Hey poor person. I am giving you money right now! Hope this helps you be more not poor!”
2. Get the timing right.
Don’t just drop it off whenever. It’s key that you drop it off after the mail has come, but before they have got it. If you leave the envelope in the box before the mailman gets there, they might take it by mistake. Or because people like finding envelopes of cash. In order to figure out the best time to leave the money I suggest camping out with binoculars. Kind of like a police stake out. You might need to buy an old van and paint “Mike’s Plumbing” on the side to throw them off the scent.
3.Don’t use Pandas
If you are known for your deep and borderline scary affection for pandas, please don’t use your panda stationary to write a short note that you attach with the money. Like the Hardy Boys figuring out the mystery of Ghost Cave, it was old man Wilkerson behind the scheme, they’ll know it was you.
4. Don’t expect anything back.
I once secretly gave someone some money and then she proceeded to do some incredibly hurtful things to me and my family. I know it makes me sound like a bad Christian, but I immediately thought, “whoa, whoa, whoa. I gave you money, you should be nice to me and appreciate how kind I am.” That was the wrong attitude. If God calls you to give, just do it without expecting anything back.
5. Don’t mail it.
For one thing, it’s never good to mail cash. For another, driving to their house and hand delivering it is much more personal. Mailing it is the equivalent of sending a text message instead of a phone call. Unless they live on the other side of the planet. Then you better mail it.
I’ve never had something dropped off in my mailbox. But I think it’s a really cool reflection of our need to be compassionate. I hope it continues, just without pandas.