The other day, while pulling into my driveway, I noticed a large dent in the side of my mailbox. I had seen damages like that before, and I had the sense that I knew what happened.
These beat up mailboxes were usually the result of a game called Mailbox Baseball.
Mailbox Baseball is played by a passenger, in a moving vehicle, hitting the side of a mailbox with a baseball bat. This “game” results in the destruction of the mailbox, which is a federal crime. Intentionally damaging a mailbox is punishable by fine and up to three years in prison.
Who could have done this? Why my mailbox? Why weren’t other mailboxes in my neighborhood damaged like this? What will I do if I discover who did it? Should I report them? Should I demand that they or their parents pay for a replacement? All sorts of questions were swirling through my head.
Irritated, I strode to the damaged box to retrieve the mail. Lying there, on top of my “official” mail, was a handwritten note that had clearly not been delivered by the USPS.
To whom it may concern,
I am very sorry that I accidentally damaged your mailbox. I will be happy to pay for the damages. My cell phone number is (###-####).
The lady who hit the mailbox had signed the note.
All of a sudden, my irritation turned to compassion for someone who could be so honest and concerned about the damage done to my box.
I called the number and spoke with this woman, a young mother who had been parked on my street while she was working for my neighbor. Upon getting a call from her son’s school, she needed to leave immediately to pick him up. As she was leaving, she inadvertently hit our mailbox.
I could picture this young mother, already stressed over the call about her son, staring at the damaged mailbox. Her day had just gone from bad to worse. I’ve had days like that myself.
I told her not to worry about the mailbox.
I also commended her for leaving the note. She could have left the scene and I would have never known what happened. She told me that, although she was somewhat afraid to do so, leaving the note was the right thing to do.
I realized that there was a very important lesson to be learned as well as a very important question I had to ask myself.
The Lesson: Assumptions can lead me down the wrong path… always get the facts first.
The Question: What would I have done in her situation?
She was in a hurry, yet she stopped to do the right thing. She was afraid, yet she overrode her fear to do the right thing. She could have gotten away with it, yet she faced the consequences and did the right thing.
She could have driven off… and this blog post would have never been written.
Is there something that you need to do because it is the right thing to do? What is your plan?