I apologized to the mailman as vehemently as possible, but after a while, it just started to feel weird.
I was, after all, standing on the stoop in my underwear, a cigarette in one hand, an ice scraper in the other.
I had locked myself out of my apartment, you see, and had been trying to jimmy the lock with the only gadget at my disposal.
This is my story and you can’t prove otherwise.
And at any rate, the postman didn’t seem overly disturbed or particularly impressed to find me out there mostly naked at such a weird hour of morning.
He had seen some stuff in his day, the postman told me. He had seen some things. It goes with the territory.
And so it is with Lewiston mailman Ben Skibitsky who, although he hasn’t experienced the joy of beholding me in my skivvies, he’s seen plenty of things that have nothing to do with the U.S. mail.
Don’t even get him started on the matter of nakedness. Naked people are everywhere, he says, and it’s usually not pretty. Some people just don’t feel like wearing pants.
“There’s a guy on Bartlett Street,” Skibitsky says, “that likes to sit on his couch in just his underwear in front of his picture window when we go by.”
Not that it’s all fun and games and underpants, mind you. Skibitsky has been cited twice already by the National Association of Letter Carriers for coming to the rescue of those in need.
In Rumford a few years ago, he came upon a woman driving in endless circles at the end of Waldo Street. She was suffering a diabetic crisis, as it turned out, with a child in the back seat.
So, what did Skibitsky, a former U.S. Marine, do to help? He went all Jason Bourne on it, jumping on the car and managing to get the keys out of the ignition so that the medics could get to the woman.
In another instance, also in Rumford, Skibitsky happened upon a young girl in just a tank top outside in 15-degree weather. He took off his own coat and got her inside where it was safe and warm.
Now he’s working a route in Lewiston and the randomness of human drama just keeps on coming.
On Wednesday, while delivering mail in the Winter Street area, Skibitsky encountered a 2-year-old boy walking in the street and marveling at the snow.
“He was wandering around, out by himself, barefoot,” Skibitsky said.
With traffic buzzing by, the mailman scooped up the kid and started banging on doors. Having raised two rambunctious escape artists himself, he said, it was pretty clear that the curious lad had made a bid for freedom after being seduced by sunshine and 50-degree weather.
“Hey, who wouldn’t want to be outside in this weather?” Skibitsky said later. “I found the mom, who was absolutely horrified. Seems the older son had just told her the younger one was in his room.”
Kid and mom reunited, the mailman went off to finish the rest of his route, just like he did last year after talking a man out of shooting his girlfriend on Pierce Street.
“I’m just in the right places,” Skibitsky says, “at the right time.”
Like those who deliver newspapers, mail carriers are invited day after day into the strange worlds of our private spaces. They see some things, man. They see some stuff.
My own Pa was a mailman, but he died before he could tell me any of his stories. Too bad. I really enjoy the behind-the-scenes stuff, and anxiously await more tales from Skibitsky’s mailbag. By the end of summer, I suppose he will have scaled the side of a parking garage, using only a rope made out of postage stamps and his own beard, to rescue some pig-tailed girl’s kitty-cat.
I’ll bet from way up there, you can see all kinds of people in their underpants.
Seriously, I can explain the spatula and rubber ducky.
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. Snickophobes can ask him to cease and desist at firstname.lastname@example.org.