1- Purchase a large, stately mailbox to replace the rusty, dilapidated one almost falling over outside the ninety five year old house you have recently acquired. Let sit for six weeks to ferment while you make the house suitable for human habitation.
2- Finding that you have a few spare minutes on an early afternoon while your friend is wrapping up another project on the house, you remember that you have a replacement mailbox. Say, “That should only take a few minutes and then we can get to the six other important things we need to do today.”
3- Locate mailbox easily in basement. Take upstairs, unbox, and carefully attach decals marking names and address with style and elegance. It looks marvelous.
4- Friend wraps up their project and both of you head outside to remove old mailbox and install the new one. It is 1 pm.
5- Discover that the old mailbox was installed, apparently, in Biblical times and the screws attaching it to the mounting bracket have oxidized into rusty bolts that would have served the Titanic well. Remove mailbox, mounting bracket and all, from wooden post.
6- Try to pry out the oxidized screws. In doing so you discover that the mounting bracket isn’t made of metal or rigid plastic, but of a flexible, rubbery material. It is a long forgotten invention of madness that makes your attempts to pry out the solid rust spikes as successful as a proctological exam of Plastic-Man.
7- After a half an hour of prying, pulling and yanking with pliers, vice grips, a claw hammer, and a crowbar… Your friend says, “I’m going to buy you a new mailbox bracket”.
8- Drive five minutes down the street to the neighborhood hardware store. A friendly place. Well-meaning teen leads you on ten minute hunt throughout store for mailbox mounting brackets. Finds mailboxes, mailbox posts, but discovers that they don’t have any mounting brackets. Sorry.
9- Drive thirty minutes to enormous big-box home improvement store. Acquire mailbox mounting bracket for US standard size three and a half inch square mailbox post for ten dollars.
10- Drive thirty minutes to get back home.
11- Attach mounting bracket to new mailbox, which requires repeated tool hunting and two person tightening with the flexibility of Plastic-Man for the next forty minutes.
12- With the new mounting bracket firmly attached to your large, stately mailbox, confidently strut to the wooden mailbox post to attach it and “be done in five minutes after all this delay”.
13- Discover that the mailbox post, having been put into place during antiquity, is measured in fractions of cubits and does not conform to the dimensions recommended by the US postmaster general.
14- Swear like a sailor.
15- Determine that if a few inches were sawed off the front of the wobbly post, you could fit the mounting bracket over it and use improvised wood screws that are too long on the sides to fasten it in with all the craftsmanship of a six-year old.
16- Spend twenty minutes hunting for your handsaw. It cannot be found. Settle for a hacksaw with a metal cutting blade instead.
17- With your gracile friend holding the ever-more wobbly wooden post steady, you manage to slowly saw and chisel a ravine into the post and avoid cutting off her fingers. The bracket now fits in a bastardized fashion. Hooray.
18- Attempt to attach wood screws and secure mailbox to post. Attempt fails, wood needs to be pre-drilled.
19- Mark and pre-drill holes a half-inch deep.
20- Attempt to attach wood screws and secure mailbox to post. Screws go a half-inch deep and stop. Holes need to be pre-drilled for the full length of the screw. Remove screws and mailbox from post again.
21- Pre-drill first hole as deep as the drill bit will go. Drill bit then gets stuck and drill can’t grip it hard enough to remove.
22- Fail to remove drill-bit with pliers.
23- Fail to remove drill-bit with vice grips used in counterclockwise motion.
24- Friend says, “I’ll pull the post away and you try pulling the drill-bit out at the same time. On one… Three, two, one!”
25- Drill-bit snaps in half, sealing the hole you absolutely needed to put a screw into with cheap steel.
26- Turn into the Incredible Hulk. Grab wooden mailbox post yelling “(your given name) SMASH!!!” Tear post, dirt and all, out of ground and hurl it fifteen feet into the woods behind your new home as chipmunks and squirrels dodge for cover.
27- Return to your normal self. Friend says “How about I buy you a new mailbox post”.
28- Remember step 8… the neighborhood hardware store five minutes away HAS MAILBOX POSTS!
29- Drive five minutes to the store. It is one minute after five PM when you arrive and although the store lights are on, the door is locked.
30- Turn to leave disheartened, and then see a well-meaning teen walking to the door as you smile.
31- Teen makes sure door is locked as they look at you. Turns off lights. Friendly place.
32- Drive back home to drop friend off because she has a date and needs to get ready for it now that the afternoon has been consumed trying to swap-out a mailbox. She offers to have her date come over and help, but even you know that would be a terrible first date and advise them that they should stick with the movie. Depart like the noble hero you are.
33- Drive thirty minutes to enormous big-box home improvement store.
34- Check mailbox aisle. All the available mailbox posts are ridiculously tall given that all you require is a four foot post that is three and a half inches square.
35- Go to the lumber aisle of the cavernous store. Search for wooden posts that are three and a half inches square. Only find post that are marked 4 x 4 inches.
36- Go back to the mailbox aisle and ask for help finding mailbox post that are 3.5 x 3.5 inches and that all you can find are 4 x 4.
37- Get stared at like an idiot and told that 4 x 4 inches is actually three and a half inches square and you should know that.
38- Wonder what the hell is wrong with America when 4 x 4 inches is actually 3.5 x 3.5 inches and that should be accepted as common sense.
39- Go back to the lumber aisle. Acquire eight foot long post that is
4 x 4 inches three and a half inches square.
40- Good news! It’s only $7!
41- Ask for assistance in cutting post in half as you only need a four foot post. Be directed to a sawing station and wait ten minutes.
42- A gentleman shows up, looks at your post and says that he can’t cut that. His saw can only cut wood up to two inches thick, not
four three and a half.
43- Contemplate buying a sawzall. Bank account is too low.
44- Return eight foot post to lumber aisle, defeated. Go back to the mailbox aisle.
45- Look at and ponder what would happen if you tried installing one of the ridiculously tall posts for $20 that would end up over the head of your postal carrier in the shallow hole you have to work with.
46- Experience a dissociative fantasy where your postal carrier is Samuel L. Jackson… who upon seeing your lame-ass, too-tall mailbox, knocks on your door and wordlessly punches you in the teeth for being the asshole who thought that was a good idea.
48- Finally, pick a metal post that is four feet tall and stately black like your new mailbox. It’s almost $40 and once you buy it you know that the coming week will consist of lots of boxed mac n’ cheese.
49- Exit enormous big-box home improvement store. It is now dark.
50- Drive thirty minutes to get back home.
51- Remove the new mounting bracket you attached to the mailbox only a few hours previously and attach the mounting system for the metal post. Do this alone even though it requires two people and an octopus.
52- Your cats are now of the opinion that it is after 7 pm and LONG past time that they were fed. After insistent meowing fails to motivate their human while you’re sprawled on the kitchen floor in awkward Kama Sutra positions with the monster mailbox, they bat the bag of screws you desperately need under the refrigerator.
53- Throw roll of duct tape at cats. Retrieve screws as cats eye you angrily.
54- Complete attaching arm assembly to your stately black monstrous mailbox. Share cigarette with mailbox, ask if it was good for them.
55- Assemble the metal post section. This includes instructions advising you to beat the end of one pole into another until firmly attached. You have no problem with this.
56- With the halves of the metal post beaten into glorious fusion, you attach the mailbox arm with screws and bolts after going up and down into the basement for 30 minutes looking for socket wrenches in the right size.
57- With a final twist, the mailbox and post are assembled. Behold their combined majesty.
58- Knowing that the width of the metal post is far smaller than the post hole, you grab a bucket and shovel and stumble into your backyard in the dark, moonless night.
59- Using grave-robber technique #1, collect gravel and dirt to fill the hole and support metal post.
60- Spouse arrives home from work early. Scare the hell out of them as you emerge from the pitch dark backyard…
62- Conscript your spouse to help you work in the dark like an idiot. Amazingly, their employer has given them the gift of a free flashlight tonight.
63- Mount post into ground, shovel in dirt and rocks. Straighten, stomp, shovel, and repeat.
64- Clock strikes 9 pm. Mailbox is straight, level and tight. You’re done.
65- Go to bed exhausted. In morning, check mailbox and make sure it did not fall over and catch fire overnight.
It looks marvelous.