Mailwoman, or: Policewoman

My response to d’Verse’s prompt for Haibun Monday:

‘Walk with me down Memory Lane’

I have poor long-term memory, but an amusing recollection came to me as I was perusing my limited memory banks for this exercise.

Between the ages of 1½- and 3-years-old, I lived in Columbus, OH, while my father was a visiting professor at Ohio State University. That was our first home in the USA after we’d left Israel. I hardly remember anything at all from that time, but, strangely, I do recall opening the door to our apartment to receive a letter or package from a mailwoman (I’m pretty sure it was a woman, but I could be wrong about that).

I knew that she was either a mailwoman or a policewoman because she was wearing a blue uniform, but I wanted to be sure so I asked her. She smiled and said, “What do you think?” which made my little self feel silly, as I scanned her and ascertained that she was delivering mail to our home. “A mailwoman,” I responded, feeling rather foolish. It is that feeling of childish foolishness that remains stuck in my mind.

that blue uniform...
woman delivering mail...
not from the police

The haibun above is my response to the d’Verse Haibun Monday prompt.

We were instructed to do a memory exercise BEFORE writing our haibuns:

Get a few pieces of blank paper, have pen in hand, close your eyes for a minute and go back as far as you can in time… to your first memories not triggered by a photograph or by family lore. Maybe it’s what your very first house looked like. Maybe you suddenly remember your dad teaching you to ride your first bike. Or what your yard looked like – or the inside of your very best childhood friend’s house. Now for your haibun, pick one memory you’ve written down and relay it to us.

46 thoughts on “Mailwoman, or: Policewoman”

        1. that’s why I’ve come to love d’Verse as much as I do – every prompt is something new for me and brings unexpected results 😀

  1. This is very amusing David, though not for you at that time assuredly. I like the term “childish foolishness” though, it was more of innocence and inexperience, but we all had those moments that linger on our minds long after childhood 😊
    On my first solo visit to a grocery shop, maybe 4 or 5 yrs, my mom asked me to get 1kg sugar, I forgot on the way and asked the shopkeeper for 100gm sugar. The shopkeeper laughed and told me I must want 1kg, but I adamantly held my ground and came back with 100gm, only to be laughed at by mom and sent back to the same shop, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me on the way back to the shop 🙂

      1. yes it is.

        Not my first memory, but I was very little when I started watching Cheyenne on TV and thought Clint Walker was just walkin’ on air. Well, at the saloon, he tossed a silver dollar on the bar and just walked out. “Oh,” I thought, “I can just do that at the store next time I go.” So went to the store, picked up a candy bar, walked through an unused checkout station and tossed a dime on the conveyor belt; walked out with it. A store detective “nabbed” me just outside the door, made me call my parents. They came down to deal with my crime of “childish foolishness”. I was “acquitted” when I finally explained what I’d done and they found the dime still on the conveyor. It was quite a bit more difficult trying to explain “why” I’d done it. Not sure I know myself.

  2. Anyone in a uniform when I was little was scary. It was like do not draw their attention. Could have been a crossing guard. What a nice indelible memory.

      1. I’m sure she didn’t, but children are sensitive little flowers when it comes to their dignity.
        My parents told me I once hid for hours under the piano and they had the police and the fire brigade out searching for me. I remember nothing about it at all. Shame probably

  3. Isn’t it fascinating, the things that stick with us? Like you say, it was probably remembering the embarrassment. Maybe it was the first time you’d felt that way, as you were becoming more self-aware? My youngest gets embarrassed when he can’t pronounce certain words. I actually find it really endearing, but I have to remember not to laugh!

  4. It’s been so interesting reading all these memories. I find it interesting that yours comes from just moving to the US and settling in Ohio. The “innocence” of a young child opening the door to a stranger. I find it quite perceptive of you at that age that you asked her if she was a mailwoman or a policewoman. Those were the two categories that were in your mind for a blue uniform. And I can just see the person with a twinkle in their eye deciding to make you think it through. My guess is the last thing that adult wanted was to make you feel foolish. Rather they wanted you to think a bit and make a conclusion. It does show you, children are sensitive and our words and actions matter to their psyches. I remember jokingly saying to my 4 years old grandson when we were playing a game, “Oh I think that’s cheating” not in any way meaning that he was “cheating” in that horrible sense of the word. But he burst into tears and ran to my daughter-in-law to tell her “Gramma thinks I’m a cheater!!!”
    PS: love the illustration you’ve chosen!

  5. What a cute memory of childhood! Your thinking was exactly like a child would normally think. Your question was very rational. Her response was a little put-offish!
    Great Haibun David. Glad the mail was not from the police

    1. I think her response could be understood different ways, depending upon tone and expression… TBH, I don’t recall getting negative vibes from her – I don’t think she meant ill (at least my child-self didn’t perceive it that way).

      -David

      1. … yes and that is partly the child’s sensitivity – depending on grown-ups will rather think himself/herself to be wrong than the grownup; that said your sounds friendly; if she looked like the cartoon, that might have been a bit scary though. Lovely work.

  6. It occurred to me as I read this that I had never seen a uniform until WWII when my brother joined the army. I had never seen a policeman, and our mailman wore overalls and drove a battered sedan! How different our memories! I enjoyed your memory very much!

    1. That’s very interesting, Bev. Thanks for sharing. How old do you think you were when you first saw a police officer? I assume that, at that age, I probably only knew of them from books – I doubt I’d seen one myself (although maybe I had – I don’t know).


      David

  7. I think there is something inbuilt, that renders a uniform an object of fear, a fear of authority, a fear that they do not mean well. Small lines. Big fear. Nice haibun!

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