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January 18, 2013

The Shaking Mailbox

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Jack -- Northwest Minnesota -- January 1984

I was about 23 years old and had graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in May. We were still in a pretty bad economic recession and I was getting pretty down about not being able to find a job in my field. It didn't help that I was running out of money from working odd jobs during the summer and was living with my mother on our old farmstead. (Although I thank her for taking me in!)

The house was about 100 years old and located in a small grove of trees on the prairie. It was wintertime and the temperature in January would go to -20 degrees F. frequently. When the wind blew, it was terrible. My days consisted of researching prospective jobs from the newspaper and sending out resumes to various companies hoping for a positive response. Every day my morning ritual was to put on my winter clothes and boots and walk to the mailbox at the end of the driveway. The driveway was about a quarter of a mile long. One morning, it was at least -25 degrees outside, but there was no wind blowing at all. It was completely still. I walked to mailbox to see if I had any letters, listening to the sound of the snow crunching beneath my boots. I opened the mailbox, grabbed the mail, and once again found no job correspondence. I was really angry and depressed. My life seemed to be going nowhere and here I was living in the middle of nowhere in a real severe climate. I yelled out loud "I must have some kind of monkey on my back!" "Get off my back!" I turned and started back to the house. After walking for about 100 yards, I heard a metallic clanging noise coming from behind. I turned and saw the metal mailbox violently shaking back and forth. The metal door was opening and closing rapidly. I stared for about 15 seconds and when it stopped shaking, I got scared and ran for the house. Remember, there was no wind blowing at all. I was a little nervous opening the mailbox the next day, but nothing like that happened again. I lived there for another month or so until I found a part-time job and returned to school for the spring quarter. I don't think I imagined what I saw that day. But it has stayed in my mind for the past 28 years.