What Symbols Are On My Mailbox ??

I've just started reading a book that I've had on my bookshelf for a long time. An Hour Before Daylight by Jimmy Carter is a trip down memory lane from his rural boyhood in Georgia. And today, I ran across a scenario that I fell in love with. Let me set up the scene for you: This story is about tramps who would happen along the dirt roads while Jimmy was growing up. The tramps would make stops for food or help at various home along the road.

"When Mama was home we never turned away anyone who came to our back door asking for food or a drink of water....One day the lady from the next farm came to visit, and Mama commented on how many tramps she had helped that week. Mrs. Bacon said, "Well, I'm thankful that they never come in my yard." The next time we had some of the vagrant visitors, Mama asked why they had stopped at our house and not the others. After some hesitation, one of them said, "Ma'am, we have a set of symbols that we use, to show the attitude of each family along the road. the post on your mailbox is marked to say that you don't turn people away or mistreat us." After they were gone, we went out and found some unobtrusive scratches; Mama told us not to change them." -- Jimmy Carter, An Hour Before Daylight

So, I've been considering today who it is that comes to my back door. Not literally, but figuratively. Are there "symbols" on my mailbox that indicate that people are safe to ask me for help? Do I welcome those that struggle? Those who may need a hand up. Being the philosophical soul that I can lapse into from time to time, it's a perfect time of year to be introspective and ask these questions that deserve an answer. Do I turn people away or mistreat them? I'm afraid that the answer hasn't always been as positive as I'd like it to be. But the road of life still runs in front of my house. I hope that the next person who shows up at my back door will receive the help that they need.
5 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Great story. My Grandmother used to help strangers passing by her house. One time a man came by and she fixed him breakfast. He had a shoulder holster and gun. My Uncle who was only 7 at the time asked him why he had a gun. He said, "I need it in my line of work." The man sat where he could see down the road and kept a close watch outside. My Uncle who was 7 told him, "Jesus loves you", the guy smiled. Later my Grandmother saw a picture of the bank robber John Dillinger and recognized him as the man who came to breakfast. Ed

  2. Laurie Says:

    ya know, Lewis you aren't a bad
    person. Sometimes things get in the
    way and we need to take care of our
    own for a time.
    If it was up to me I'd have a house
    full of teenage outcasts and the
    truly homeless. My husband won't
    let me because he says I wouldn't
    know when to stop.

  3. Uncle Gerry Says:

    I must have a neon sign on my mailbox (lol, but seriously, there are still many today that need a hand here and there, even if it is just an ear to listen. I am with Laurie, I own the local franchise of Outkastz R Uz and would not have it any other way.

  4. jimm Says:

    I work in one of the richest towns in the country. One time, almost Christmas, I saw this BMW come to a halt, this lady gets out and hands a plateful of cookies to a homeless guy. That's nice, but what about the rest of the year?

    I wonder how many hobos Dubya fed when he was a 'lil dubya?

  5. Java Says:

    laurie, I kinda' do have a house full of teenage outcasts who'd otherwise be homeless. It is hard to realize and accept my limits.
    Lewis, thanks for sharing this. I'd heard of the mailbox symbols before. It is interesting to consider how or even if other people know to come to me when they are in need. Then there is the opposite condition: me needing help myself. Am I willing to seek help, to accept help, to know where to find help? I'll think about it tomorrow. ;-P