Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
I am reminded that nothing worth doing is easy as I “spin the dial to the left 3-4 times to clear” for the five hundred and twenty-seventh time today, coming to the inevitable conclusion that whatever is in my mailbox must be the greatest correspondence concievable. Imagining the possibilities distractedly, I realize that a sudden attack of dyslexia is to blame for my most recent ineptitude, and as I swing the dial to “my other left,” I am asked if I need any assistance by a gentleman bearing the Auth Florence company logo that identifies him as being involved in the fixing of locks for Swarthmore’s mailbox system.
As the amiable gentleman assists me with the lock, he and his co-workers go on to explain the current Swarthmore-mailbox-fixing situation. Apparently, despite the remarkable number of frustrated Swarthmorians banging their heads against the small metal doors, the locks do not need replacing.
In fact, Steve McKenzie explains, “A lot of the work is pretty easy stuff. A lot of people just don’t know how to use the lock.” Indeed, it would seem that there are a whole range of techniques for lock opening used by Swarthmore students, ranging from screwing one’s face up into the proper position of complete perplexion, slyly twisting the nob while holding one’s ear to the door, like a character in a James Bond movie, or the age old classic of violently rattling at the knob. At the moment, the workmen from Auth Florence are doing their best to instruct students and administrators using these methods on alternatives that might actually open the door.
McKenzie went on to explain that in some of the boxes, the dial isn’t turning well and needs to be replaced, and a few of the mailboxes have a pin that needs to be removed. As to the possible causes of this charming little inconvenience, McKenzie pointed out that “the weight settling [on the boxes] from the construction” may be responsible. Given how minor the work required seems to be, the men are confident that they should be done “sometime [Thursday], though we might swing by on Friday.”
For a few students, however, the mailbox situation remains unresolved. Student Bernadette Baird-Zars ’06, when asked if she was able to get her mail this afternoon, responded with an emphatic: “No!” Apparently, Baird-Zars has been trying to get into her mailbox since the day after the boxes were installed this past summer. She spoke fondly of the past mailbox system, which was not only easy to use (in fact, it was possible to open the *wrong* mailbox without difficulty), but allowed people to see the contents of their box before opening the mailbox.
In Bernadette’s case, despite the efforts of just about everyone involved with the mailroom, she “still can’t get (her) mail.” Meanwhile, Baird-Zars reflects, in reference to the people working at the mailroom, “I’ve become friends with them. They know me.”
As for my own box, when at last the wretched thing was opened, a full hour and twenty minutes after initially arriving in the mailroom, I was greeted by the sweet, rewarding sight of absolutely nothing.
Well, after all, I do have box 13.