Thursday, September 29, 2011

Johnny Scofflaw...

I did something the other day that may or may not have involved breaking the law*.  At the very least, it probably wasn't all that ethical.  I...opened mail that wasn't addressed to me.

I admit, I'm a little fascinated by the mail that we receive that is addressed to the previous tenant.  Let's call him Bob.  Bob clearly wasn't too concerned about where his mail was ending up because it doesn't appear that he ever filed a change of address with Canada Post.  We've been getting mail for him from day one.  A lot of it is junk, some of it is bills or catalogues.  In my head, I've been recreating Bob's life, based on the information I've gleaned about him from his mail**.  That may seem weird but it's kind of a hobby of mine - there are always background stories about the people I come across whirling around in my head.

Anyway, Bob seems to be a patron of the arts - he gets mail from the Vancouver Art Gallery, from various theatres around town, and other events.  He's had mail from Saab and BMW.  Catalogues from Harry Rosen.  He may be a generous fellow, considering the mail he's gotten from various charities.  He seems like your average city dwelling man.  I had seen Bob once, when The Boy and I were looking at the apartment, and this assessment fits, I think.  His girlfriend/wife was pregnant at the time, so he's a dad now.  They probably moved on to a bigger place, or a house of their own, and are now living a life of domestic bliss.  Or are they?  Has Bob gone astray?

You see, an envelope slid through our mail slot the other day.  It was hand addressed to Bob but had no return address.  It was stamped and franked by the post office, so it wasn't hand delivered.  The sender had gotten his name and address from somewhere.  One would think from Bob himself.

At first glance, it appeared the envelope contained a letter and the writing on the front suggested it was written by an older hand.  I thought, 'How nice.  Bob is getting a hand written letter from his Grandma, or perhaps an elderly aunt'.  Then it struck me as odd that there was no return address.  Who's Grandma doesn't have those pre-printed, address labels that get sent out every Christmas?   If I simply wrote 'Return to Sender' on the envelope and re-mailed it, I knew it would only end up at the dead letter office (Oh, how I'd love to work there!), where it would end up incinerated, or shredded, or folded into origami  animals.  I didn't want to leave the letter to such a fate so I began debating (in my mind) what I should do.  My intentions were good - I would open the letter and see if there was a name that would help me to re-direct the letter back to the writer.

I didn't want to invade the privacy of Bob, or of his Grandma/Aunt, so while I was puzzling out what to do, I examined the envelope.  It's your standard white envelope, and therefore, somewhat see through.  When I pressed it down, I could see some thick, black print.  It didn't look like hand writing.  On closer examination, I could read ' Evangelical Tract Distribution'.  Ah ha!  So not from Bob's Grandma (I hope) but from a church goer, or perhaps one of those people who stand on street corners handing out magazines.  At this point, I no longer cared about invasion of privacy and opened the envelope.  It was re-sealable anyway, so I could still throw it in the mail at some point.

Inside there were three small pamphlets.  One was titled 'Are You Ready to Meet God?' and intended for anyone who is a newb to religion, another was titled 'The King is Coming' (bold font included) that talks about, you guessed it, the eagerly anticipated second Earth tour by the rock star himself, JC.  The third pamphlet was titled 'Blood You Can Depend On' complete with cover graphics of a blood bank donor bag.  It was within this pamphlet that things got interesting.  Maybe I was wrong about Bob.  Maybe he isn't such a nice guy.

This particular pamphlet was about sin, sacrifice and how the blood of Christ can wash one's soul clean.  It's the usual stuff.  However, one paragraph was singled out with a pen mark around it (in the same ink and wobbly hand as the address on the envelope).  It read as follows:

             But, thank God, there is a way to erase guilt and escape the wrath to come
             in the cleansing blood of Jesus.  His blood type is available and suitable for 
             all sinners.  One only needs to repent of his sin and come to Jesus for salvation
             now.  "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3), are Christ's
             words to the sinner.  "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: 
             though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be
             red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isiah 1:18).

The underlining was not part of the printing but was done, again, by the person who addressed the letter.  It suggested to me that the person who sent this was sending a very particular message to Bob.  '...though your sins be as scarlet...'  Bob.  What did you do, Bob??  Whatever it was, it must have been weighing on him enough that the felt the need to seek guidance...or forgiveness.

Or did he?  Surely, if he had been having a conversation about what ever it was that he did, or that he felt he had done, the person he was talking to could have given him the pamphlets then.  At the very least they could have directed him to some passages in the bible (King James version, just so we're clear.)

Maybe Bob was caught in flagrante delicto by some nosey do-gooder.  If so, how did they get his address?  More importantly, how did they get the address that he hasn't lived at in over a year?  Is Bob handing out this address to people he doesn't really want to hear from, and yet can't refuse to give the information to them?

My next thought was that maybe this mail was never intended for Bob.  Maybe it was meant for me.  Perhaps, there is an all knowing, all seeing presence*** who guided this particular missive into my hands, knowing that my innate nosiness would lead me to open the envelope.  Perhaps I was being admonished for opening other people's mail.  If that's the case then all I can say to God, Buddha or the Invisible Space Pickle (whichever of them was responsible) is this:

                     Curiousity killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back.

Moral of the story:  Maybe I really know nothing about Bob and never will.  Maybe I shouldn't be opening mail not addressed to me.  However, it's curiousity about the world and the people in it that feeds my imagination.  If not for that, I wouldn't have a blog post for you today and you wouldn't have a slightly better (and scarier?) insight into how the mind of The Happy Ranter works.  Sometimes, you just  gotta break the rules.

*I've always heard 'it's a federal offence to open someone else's mail' but finding a law that clearly states that was pretty hard to come by.  The closest I could find was that it is illegal to take mail from other people's mailboxes, homes, the post office, etc with the intention of using the information found within to commit fraud or identity theft, etc.  It becomes a little more shady when the mail is addressed to your home but to the previous tenant.

** I'd like to point out that I always mark his mail 'Return to Sender' or 'Moved' and mail it for re-delivery.  Well, except this one time.  So maybe not 'always' but definitely 'usually'.

*** I'm an atheist.  I don't actually believe this.


HWZ said...

My theory: he was a kidney match for his ailing elderly aunt and refused to help her out. Now she's guilt tripping him.

The Happy Ranter said...

Your comment almost made me choke on the double chocolate muffin I was eating. Hilarious!