Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Boxing Up

One thing I've learned since we bought our first home last autumn is to never underestimate the complexity of what seems to be a simple household project.  For Exhibit A, allow me to submit our mailbox.  The one we had outside since moving in has been in a slow and steady state of decay for the past several months (probably years).  The box has been loose on its pole for quite some time, it has leaked as long as we've lived here, and a few weeks ago the door started falling off.  So we finally bit the bullet, went to Lowe's, and bought ourselves a shiny new mailbox.

End of story, eh?  Well, not so much.  The First Law of Home Improvement clearly states "The perceived simplicity of a project is inversely proportional to the number of trips to the hardware store required to complete it."  When we went to set up the new post receptacle we found out that the mailbox itself was too big to fit on the post.  So we made our way back to Lowe's and returned the post, only to leave empty-handed with more questions than answers.  Do we get a wooden post instead of a metal one?  What about polymer?  Do we mount the box with brackets or on a piece of wood?  Do we return our new mailbox and get a smaller one?  And what about those weird plastic mailboxes that look like they're made by Fisher-Price?  It was all getting rather out of control, and still our rusted old mailbox continued to waste away by the roadside, doing everything in its power to hold our alumni association solicitations and JASNA subscriptions without collapsing under its own sorry self.

So a few days later back to Lowe's we went, looking for a stout mailbox post the way our grandaddies used to make them:  from good old-fashioned wood.  Soon enough we settled on a nice cedar post that would look appropriately regal and surely be the envy of the neighbors (we're suburbanites, after all.  Isn't that the goal of every home improvement project?).  But then came a new set of problems:  removing the old mailbox pole, digging a new hole, mounting the box, securing the post in the ground, and all kinds of new complications that continued to turn what I thought would initially be a half-hour Saturday project into a weeks-long ordeal with government-style budget overruns.

But finally, after much digging, cementing, drilling, hammering, and sweating, we have a brand new mailbox sitting proudly by the curb performing its duties as admirably as one could hope for.  But, come to think of it, the cross-beam does seem a tad loose.  I bet I could find something to secure it just a little.  Oh, and it could a nice staining job too.  And perhaps a coat of sealer.  And maybe a little flowerbed....

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