My little boy loves checking the letters.
In fact, ‘letters’ was one of the first words he learnt as a baby. I knew he recognised the word because every time I’d ask him if he wanted to check the letters, his chunky, baby cheeks would start to shine; he’d reach his little hand toward the front door and smile as bright as the sun.
Nothing has changed. He’s a toddler now, but his eyes still light up at any mention of the ‘L’ word.You’ve never seen a celebration like it. And if there are letters in the letter box… well. Day made.
Earlier today, the two of us were in the front garden. My little helper was doing a mixture of things. Mainly playing, but every so often he’d water the garden with his empty watering can, and jab at the weeds with the spare spade; all grown up, just like Mummy.
When he started to tire of the ‘big kid’ game, I noticed the toddler edging closer to the letter box.
Closer to the road.
My Mummy senses spiked. I sprang toward him before he could make it anywhere near the road, even if it was the quietest street in the block.
‘Letters!’ he turned to me with a smile that told me he was clueless to the danger. His eyes dropped as if to say, why aren’t there any letters in the letter box, Mummy.
‘It’s okay, sweetie. The postman hasn’t been yet. Maybe there will be some letters in there later!’ And sure enough, just as I went to pull him away from the front gate, who was to show up?
He wore a fluro yellow jumpsuit and black sunglasses that masked his eyes. Even his motorbike was decked out in fluro, post bags included. The toddler stared. He had never seen such a spectacle at close range.
‘Nothing for you today!’ chirped a friendly voice from beneath his visor.
‘Oh, no, honey! No letters for us today!’ I said to the toddler, getting down to his level, watching him as he curiously assessed the colourful stranger.
As if he sensed my little boys hesitance, the post man reached out his gloved hand.
And just like that, the postman had won the heart of the toddler.
I liked the kindness in him, so asked him his name.
‘My name is Sunny,’ he said. ‘I’ve been the postman around here for twenty years. It’s nice to meet you.’ Sunny was an Asian man who, under all the postie gear, looked to be in his mid fifties. He told me that he, too, has kids. A boy and a girl.
‘That’s so lovely, Sunny,’ I said, grinning stupidly, like I’d just met a celebrity.
It was the moment I knew the toddler and I had just found a new friend.
Sunny, the friendly postman.
When Sunny moved on, a curious feeling came over me. Suddenly, I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed that, up until that point, I’d never made an effort to say, hi. He said he’d not seen me around before, but the thing is: I had seen him. I’d seen him plenty of times. More than enough times to go and say hello to the man.
20 years! he’d said. I’d only been around for two of those years, but still… I should have at least acknowledged him in that time. I could have thanked him for the hard work I’d seen him doing for my neighbourhood, every day, rain or shine.
But no. I never had.
I have Sunny to thank for giving me that moment.
And for teaching me a valuable life lesson.
I hope I never again overlook the importance of those who quietly chip away at their jobs, working hard to keep our worlds turning. The postmen and women out there are a great example of those we often see but never take the time to really consider.
In Sunny, the friendly postman, I met a lovely man. He was kind to me, and kind to my Son.
Next time I see him, I’ll make sure he knows that I am thankful.
Not only for the letters he brings, but for the smile my boy gives me when he hears that very exciting ‘L’ word.