Sunday, April 19, 2009


One Spring morning a long time ago when my mother was returning to the house after her daily walk to get the mail and the neighborhood gossip, the phone rang. It was the local Post Mistress. Her message was simple, barely audible over the shrieks of the other postal workers.

"Mrs. Mead, you must come here immediately. Your parcel has chewed its way out of the box and it's running around terrorizing our customers and staff." Then the line went dead. She tried calling back, but the phone rang busy.

A lesser woman would be intimidated by such a call, but not my mother. She'd have been the type to stand up during a bank robbery, cigarette in hand, and ask for a light.

She put on a nice dress and her red lipstick. She hopped into the Dodge Polaris and drove into town to see what all the fuss was about. When she got to the post office, there were a number of people standing out front trying to see through the plate glass window. She honked to move them out of the way and then backed into the parking space. She opened the trunk, just in case, then she lit a cigarette and headed in.

Pushing through the crowd, she took a peek through the glass before opening the door to find three postal employees and two customers standing on the counter. The phone was lying on the floor.

"It's over there." said the post mistress, gesturing to a spot behind the counter. There it was a 16 inch baby alligator. My mother walked over to it. It backed up a little and made a threatening noise. Then the she took a big drag of her Salem, leaned over and blew smoke into its face, disorienting it for a moment while she picked it up with both hands.

"Can you get the door?" she called to the folks just climbing down from the counter. "And bring the box, please."

She marched out and put the baby gator into the trunk of the car and closed it. The post mistress handed her the box. The return address was chewed away all except for the zip code 34747.

"Where is 34747?"she asked as she was getting into the car.

"Florida... Kissimmee, Florida." said the post mistress.

"Thank you." said my mother as she drove away.

She loved a good mystery and was determined to get to the bottom of this one. She used the smoke trick to get the baby gator back out of the trunk and into the bathtub. She spent the afternoon feeding him chunks of raw ground meat and planning her investigation.


The U.S. Postal Requirements for Live Animal Mailability

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