Thursday, January 25, 2007

I’m a terrible, terrible person

We moved into our townhouse a couple of years ago. Not long after we moved in, we realized that the former occupants hadn’t changed their address—at least, at a lot of places they hadn’t—and neither had they forwarded their mail to the new address. So within days of moving into our home, we had a pile of mail sitting on our counter, for the former occupants.

However, they had left us their new phone number, so we called them, and they came and picked it up. Problem solved. Except that within a week, we already had more mail piling up for them.

We called them again, but this time there was a bit of a delay; I didn’t call them right away. It probably stayed on our counter for a few weeks, before I got around to it.

This might have happened one or two more times—I don’t remember for sure—but eventually, we came to the part I’m ashamed of: There was a period of at least six months, possibly even up to a year, where their mail simply sat on our counter, the pile growing and growing, and I just kept forgetting to call them. Some of it was personal mail, some of it was bills. Some of it was from the government, and had scary messages on it like “final notice”. I couldn’t walk past our kitchen counter without cringing with guilt. Were these people going to end up in jail, simply because I hadn’t forwarded on their mail?

Sometimes we would get home late, and get the mail on the way—which would remind me about their mail—but it would be too late to call them. And other times we would get home at a decent time, and get the mail on the way, but I would know that we wouldn’t be home for the next week, so there was no point in calling them yet. Lots of little reasons, adding up to a long period of guilt.

Finally I called them, and they came and got it. And the mail promptly started building up, again. And then I had a brainstorm: When I was ready to ship off another batch, I called them, and asked them for their address. Then I put it all in a big envelope, and sent it off, neat as you please. It meant I didn’t have to schedule a time for them to come over, but it also meant I didn’t have to face them, because I still felt guilty. I’ve since mailed off a couple of batches of mail. And I think they’ve even changed their address at a number of places, because we get a lot less mail for them than we used to.

Then, last night, Andrea and I were just leaving the house to go to a church business meeting, and somebody pulled up in front of our driveway. (We were both thoroughly annoyed, that they could clearly see we were about to leave, but were blocking our way.) And then someone got out of the car, and approached us, holding what appeared to be a gift bag. And that’s when my guilt became complete:

It was them. They were bringing us a gift, to thank us for mailing them their mail! I couldn’t believe it. They, apparently, had the government chasing them, because we hadn’t sent them their mail for so long, but when we finally did, they wanted to thank us.

So we now have a nice bottle of red wine sitting on our counter. I may never be able to drink it, but maybe some day I’ll have guests over, and make them drink it.

I won’t tell them that they’re drinking my guilt; they might not enjoy it as much if they did.