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All Things Michigan

Michigan travels, events, photos, and more

Snowplows versus my mailbox

Andrew Norton

The forecast is calling for up to eight inches of snow by this evening here in southwest Michigan. And so begins my annual battle with the snowplow versus my mailbox. This is a battle of less than epic proportions. Mainly due to the fact that it has a history of being a one-sided affair with my mailbox receiving the worst of it.

Our current mailbox is an ugly sort of beat up looking affair. It still accepts mail and the crooked flag manages to salute the post office when there is out-bound post present. There are many scars that it bears from numerous encounters with the state snowplow.

Our first mailbox didn't even make it through the first summer at our home. It was taken out by a driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel. Luckily for him the mailbox was the only party in the crash to suffer life threatening injuries.

I went out and purchased an exact copy of that ill-fated mailbox and with it I sealed my fate as a winter-weary protector of our mailbox. The first significant snowfall of that winter saw our mailbox seriously wounded but not yet bound for the trash heap. Unfortunately, later that winter as the snow ensued another snowplow came by and mercifully finished the job the first snowplow had begun.

Did you know that unless you see the snowplow's blade actually hit and take out your mailbox that it is your responsibility to foot the bill and buy a new one? It doesn't matter if the snowplow merely through heavy wet snow at your mailbox while traveling around 50 m.p.h.

As I held the sad remains of our shattered mailbox I gazed up into the falling snow and vowed to never spend more than $10 on a mailbox for as long as we live here. I went into town to the local hardware store and bought an all metal mailbox for about $8.

Then, I went into my wood shop and found a piece of plywood that was a remnant from a previous project. I cut it down to size and attached it to two steel posts that I had driven into the ground to the “snowplow side” of our mailbox. My first attempt at a deflector shield was a success in duty if not in appearance.

My wife tenderly referred to it as a “redneck deflector shield” as though that might be an insult. My retort was always, “it works, doesn't it?” I have since neglected to bother with putting up the “redneck deflector shield” not out of pride for how it might look, but out of surprise at how well my cheap little mailbox stands up to the snowplows.

Last winter was the first in which I didn't set up my mailbox shield. The first heavy snowfall came and with it the enemy – the snowplow. A blur of yellow came barreling down the highway with a white wall of snow rushing before it's blade. The snow knocked my mailbox clean off it's post.

I picked it out of the snow, brushed it off, and screwed it back onto the top of our post. Banged up, chipped paint, and crooked flag. But, like I said, it still dutifully accepts and delivers mail.

A funny postscript to this whole encounter is that I was the first person to put up a shield for our mailbox on our stretch of road. Each winter following the first one when I had put up our shield another house or two adds one. There are now about four or five houses with shields in place to preserve and protect their mailboxes.

Our neighbors put up a mailbox like the first two that we had had obliterated and this will be its first winter of battling the snowplow. They haven't put up a shield to protect it. I wonder how long it will last.