The Post Office

The US Postal Service is struggling. The current economic climate, set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing business environment due to advances in technology and communications, has resulted in severe declines in the volume of traditional mail. But in our Hamptons community, the Post Office still means something special.

We don’t get home mail delivery. Instead, we have a PO Box. So one of my regular errands is a trip to the Post Office to pick up our mail. Most of the people working there know me. They know that I live in England for most of the year, am a big Chelsea fan, and that my family loves online shopping (see The UPS Man). My PO Box is always overflowing with junk mail and notices to pick up packages. So I always have occasion to go to the main desk to say hello and chat with the postmen. They have an incredibly great R&B playlist that makes it hard to leave, always keeping me there for just one more song. One of the postmen is a huge soccer fan and, thanks to my enthusiasm, has adopted Chelsea as his English team. He has turned me on to several websites where I can stream Chelsea games for free when they are not on local TV (see www.vipbox.tv, www.firstrowsports.eu, www.p2p4u.net).

So, it is now my personal mission to save the Post Office. Send somebody a letter today for old times’ sake.  Here are some of my ideas. Let’s hear yours.

  • Retailing   The Post Office sells sports memorabilia. For some inexplicable reason, our Post Office has, for many years, had the same unsold commemorative photos of Sammy Sosa, a steroid-tainted baseball slugger who played primarily in Chicago, and Roberto Alomar, infamously known for spitting in the face of an umpire. I would unload those and get some photos of Derek Jeter and Mariano Riviera, our hometown Yankee Hall of Famers! I’d also be selling copies of that great R&B playlist they’ve got.
  • Hospitality  I would open a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in the Post Office with free wi-fi and nice comfortable couches so people could sit around, pay bills and read all the catalogues that get stuffed in their mail boxes. They could also add Post Office coffee mugs to their retail inventory.
  • Recycling   I would vertically integrate the Post Office by going into the recycling business. That way, patrons could just transfer the junk mail directly into the recycling bin and the Post Office could use it to create recycled paper.
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Pumpkin Picking

We went pumpkin picking today. Pumpkin picking can be very stressful for someone (me) with an obsessive-compulsive personality. Particularly when doing it with someone (my daughter) who can’t make decisions. For me, anything worth doing is worth overdoing. My daughter can’t decide which pair of pajamas to wear without consulting all her friends. Imagine the two of us in a pumpkin patch looking for the perfect pumpkin. It reminded me of the old Lay’s potato chips ad (“I’ll betcha can’t eat just one”). There were hundreds of pumpkins and gourds to choose from. They were heavy, covered with mud and slugs and spread over acres. There was a Yankee playoff game looming at 3pm. She couldn’t decide. I wanted them all. We bought a lot of pumpkins.

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The King of King’s Road (15)

(continued from The King of King’s Road (14))

After the homeless man slept in the shelter for several days, the case worker approached him again to discuss his ideas for helping the homeless man. He suggested that they might first try to find the homeless man’s identity and family. If the homeless man could not remember who he was and where he came from, the case worker offered to use fingerprints and DNA testing to find his identity and government records. The homeless man did not speak, but he held out his hand. The case worker smiled and left the room, coming back quickly with some paper, ink and a scissors. The case worker took a sample of the homeless man’s fingerprints and cut off a lock of his hair.

After a few days, the case worker had received a report from the Home Office identifying the homeless man as Giles Piper-Burns, age 52, single, educated at Cambridge and registered with the Financial Services Authority as a bond trader, but  suspended for financial improprieties and on medical leave. The Home Office records further indicated that Mr. Piper-Burns had been treated for gambling addiction by the National Health Service for six months after his suspension, ending a year earlier. The case worker approached the homeless man and showed him the Home Office report. The homeless man looked at the report but remained expressionless. He continued to stare down, away from the eyes of the case worker. The case worker left the homeless man alone with the report. The homeless man sat on his cot and began to play with his Rubik’s Cube, solving the puzzle over and over for the rest of the afternoon.

The next day the case worker returned and asked the homeless man to join him and another man in the privacy of the Head Minister’s rectory. They sat in the minister’s parlor with tea and biscuits and the new man began to ask questions. The homeless man did not respond. The case worker excused himself from the room and left the homeless man and the new man alone together. The new man identified himself as an addiction therapist and explained how he could be helpful if the homeless man was willing to take part. He then sat silently while the homeless man gazed, apparently in deep thought, at the biscuit tin. Neither man spoke again. After an hour the therapist left, and the homeless man returned to the shelter.

To be continued…

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In Love with October

Is it OK to love two months? Does that make me a calendulterer? Will September ever forgive me (see Summer’s Best Kept Secret), if I admit that I love October more? October brings the Major League Baseball playoffs and World Series, the fresh spirit of my local high school football team, weekend morning rendezvous with Fox Soccer Channel to keep up with my Chelsea Blues, Sundays with the NFL and, this year, the Rugby World Cup. October brings the Hamptons International Film Festival, apple pie and cider, hearty vegetable soup, carving pumpkins and kids jumping in piles of leaves. October brings bike rides in crisp clear autumn air, walks on wind-swept vacant beaches, and brisk kayak rides at dusk or daybreak. October brings a deserted golf course just for me. October brings Halloween. And October brings a vibrant palette of yellows, reds, and oranges bursting from a background filled with hundreds of shades of green. Sorry September, it’s time to move on. I love October.

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Hamptons International Film Festival

If I haven’t already persuaded you to visit The Hamptons this fall (see Art in the Hamptons and Summer’s Best Kept Secret), then hopefully the upcoming Hamptons International Film Festival, scheduled for October 13-17, will be enough to convince you. Tickets go on sale today. If you come out, here are some of my favorite restaurant ideas: Hamptons Restaurants  and Casual Hamptons Restaurants.

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Blow Sox

Red Sox Nation, you can stop reading now. Fast Eddie won’t be making you smile today. The only thing I love more than the New York Yankees winning another AL East title is a good old-fashioned late-season collapse by the Boston Red Sox. And this season’s version was the best ever. Last night, on one of the most memorable nights in baseball history, the Red Sox completed the greatest September collapse ever.

After entering September with the best record in the American League, the Red Sox proceeded to lose 20 games in 28 days. Needing to win on the last night of the season to preserve a chance of making the playoffs, the Red Sox entered the ninth inning leading the last-place Baltimore Orioles 3-2 with their All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon pitching. The Red Sox had not lost a game the entire season when leading while entering the ninth inning. Well, there’s always a first time. Papelbon gave up two runs on three hits in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Red Sox lost and left their fate in the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, who were losing to the Yankees 7-0 entering the bottom of the eighth inning. In an equally improbable outcome, the Rays scored seven runs in the last two innings to tie their game and send it into extra innings, ultimately winning the game and the last playoff spot with a walk-off home run by Evan Longoria in the bottom of the 12th inning.

The Red Sox collapse brings back so many great memories of previous Red Sox failures during the 86-year span from 1918-2004 when they failed to win the World Series. There was 1978, when the Red Sox held a 14 1/2 game lead over the Yankees in mid-July. By September 7th, the Yankees had closed the gap to four games and went to Boston for a four game series. The Yankees won all four of those games, leaving Boston tied for first place. The two teams battled back and forth for the rest of September, ending the regular season in a tie and forcing a one-game playoff for the title, which the Yankees won on a legendary home run by Bucky Dent.

Then, in 1986, the Red Sox faced our other New York team, the Mets, in the World Series. In the iconic sixth game of that Series, the Red Sox took the lead in the top of the tenth inning and entered the bottom of that inning on the verge of winning their first World Series since 1918. They had the Mets down two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the tenth when the Mets began the greatest comeback in World Series history with a single by Gary Carter. The inning ended on one of the most famous errors of all time, when Bill Buckner allowed a sure-out slow ground ball hit by Mookie Wilson to roll between his legs while the Mets’ Ray Knight scored the winning run. The Mets went on to win the seventh game and the Series.

In 2003, The Red Sox and the Yankees played the full seven games in the American League Championship Series to decide who would go to the World Series. The Red Sox pushed the Yankees to the wall and were leading 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox aging ace Pedro Martinez was still pitching. After he gave up a run, Red Sox manager Grady Little went out to the mound to check on Pedro, but left him in the game. Pedro gave up two more runs that inning and the Yankees forced the game into extra innings, finally winning the pennant in the bottom of the eleventh inning on Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run.

If you are still reading, you must be a Yankee fan and you’re smiling from ear to ear. Read it again. And again. It never gets old.

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Experts

Ever notice all the experts in your life? You don’t have to look very far. It really hit home in the run up to Hurricane Irene. In addition to the TV weathermen standing on every beach on the east coast of the United States being thrashed by wind and rain demonstrating what wind and rain look like, we had our local experts.

One of the most authoritative was my gardener who helped me prepare for the storm. Despite the hysterical warnings of The Weather Channel, my gardener was just laying the flower pots on their side near a wall for shelter and tying up the outdoor furniture with rope and pushing it against the house. When I suggested maybe we should put it all inside the house or down in the basement, he said, “No problem. This will be fine. Your house will be rock solid. Even in the Great Hurricane of 1938, this would all have been fine.” Now, our house was only just built last year. And while he may have been alive for the Hurricane of ’38, he would have been an infant.

We also had house guests during the days immediately preceding the hurricane. They were from Florida (they just couldn’t bear to miss a hurricane). So they had their views on the likely severity of the storm and assured us that we and our house would be safe. Of course, their house is constructed with steel-reinforced concrete and hurricane glass. Ours is made of wood, shingles and regular glass. Another friend of ours (who makes furniture, cabinetry and kayaks) stopped by, told us that he had been in many hurricanes and assured us we would be fine.

Well, we were fine. The experts were right. They always are. Until they’re not.

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