“Someone took out our mailbox again.”
It was my wife on the phone. We were talking while I was on my recent trip, and she was telling me a story about a crunching sound she heard. She figured it was another tree falling on our property, which happens every so often.
Turns out it was a speeding driver taking out our mailbox. Yes, this happens every so often too. In fact, in the more than six years we have lived in this house, it has happened four times. Three of those times the person crashed into our front yard as well. Thankfully we have a deep front yard, and our house is set well back off the street.
So, there I was, out buying a new mailbox post, digging a new hole, and setting that plastic beauty back in place so we can receive our daily pile of bills. Thanks, nameless jerk who didn’t stop after hitting my mailbox. Oh yeah, my neighbor’s mailbox was taken out too. He had to replace his as well. We joke about getting rich from mailbox insurance payouts.
We live on the south end of a curve that has a posted speed limit of 20 miles per hour. The road before it is posted at 30 mph. But people use it to get from one main road to another. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with the speeders, especially the ones that take out our mailbox.
I drive that road almost daily, and I can tell you it is hard to stick to 30 mph unless you use cruise control. But there are people walking, jogging and biking in the lanes made for them right next to cars with drivers who seem to be in a constant hurry.
Also, along this road there is the Laurent House, which was designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is just around the corner from our house, and a popular place for tourists to stop for a tour or grab gifts from the gift shop across the road.
The problem is to get across that road, people must use a crosswalk on a road marked 30 mph where I have seen people pass on the right while going 60 mph.
The point here is this: I would rather people take out my mailbox repeatedly than hit someone riding a bike or crossing the road to see a beautiful home.
Frankly, it scares me.
Many of us have areas of traffic that concern us. I know for certain that people speed around the quiet streets of Oregon. Yield signs are often completely ignored. It can be scary for sure.
So, we reach out to law enforcement to let them know there is a problem. They can put up signs to monitor speeds – they do seem to slow people down – and they can also step-up patrols. This is what we rely on police to do. Traffic control is a very important part of the job.
In my situation, we have a city of Rockford address but actually live in the county. That means the county sheriff’s department patrols here. When we have had people crash in our yard, it is sheriff’s deputies who arrive on the scene.
That department will patrol our road and pull people over on occasion, but not with regularity. As far as most drivers are concerned, that is a full green light to speed away.
The point of this is that my mailbox can be replaced. Yes, it is pain to do it and it costs me money every time. But my mailbox is a thing, it is not a person.
I worry that a person will be next. A kid on a bike, or a retiree mowing his lawn or a woman tending to her flowers. Please, let’s pay attention to speed limits and slow down wherever we are driving. Let’s save some mailboxes and, more importantly, lives.
Brad Jennings is the editor of the Ogle County Life.