Fred never intended to be a mailman. I don’t imagine many people do. The thought of carrying a heavy bag through all kinds of weather smacks of a job for Santa and that position is already filled. But Fred grew up in a town with limited options.
Dorset Lake is a small town of about 300 people. Generations of families have lived and died in this small town. Childhood friends played together at the local park, married and brought their own children to the same park. Everybody knew everybody but nobody ever really got to know Fred. He never went to the park with childhood friends because he didn’t have any. The kids at school thought he was weird and different. They thought he didn’t want to play with them because he would go off on his own at recess and play by himself. They thought it strange that he never joined in any games. What they didn’t know was that he didn’t know how to play with them. Their loud shouts when he tried to play of “Go Fred go” scared and disturbed him. The many rules both known and understood confused him. How was he supposed to know which base to run to ? How did he know that a high five was not going to hurt ? It looked like hitting to him and he’d been taught not to hit. And no one wanted to talk about the weather which confused Fred all the more. After a while, Fred gave up. Kids got angry when he didn’t follow the rules. They laughed when he shied away from the high fives. The looked at him puzzled when he tried to talk about the weather during a game. Didn’t they know how fascinating weather was ? Didn’t they want to know about clouds and pressure systems and tornadoes ? He was trying to reach out the only way he knew how and they rejected him.
You’d think that if the weather was what Fred found so fascinating, that he would be a good weather man. But this was not an option for Fred. The town was too small to have their own TV station or radio station for that matter. The weather might happen in the town but they heard about it from some distant city.
Fred discovered that he not only enjoyed learning about the weather, he loved the feel of the weather. He loved the heat of the sun on the back of his neck. He loved the kiss of the wind on his face. He loved to splash inthe puddles as he stomped about in the rain. All of it fascinated him, thrilled him and consoled him. The weather never laughed at him. It never judged him. It never pointed or stared. Weather enveloped him and made him feel welcome and safe.
As Fred grew up, he started to think about what he’d like to do. He’d tried jobs in restaurants, the grocery store and even an office. He was forever being caught staring out a window. They said he was daydreaming and being lazy. But the weather was so fascinating and he longed to be out in it. How could they be content to stay inside all day and miss the sunshine or rain ? Didn’t it call to them too ? He still did not have anyone to share his interest with. No one took the time to get to know Fred. They still pointed and whispered about the strange man they saw out in all kinds of weather.
After being let go again, Fred found a job at the local post office sorting mail. There was no window to stare out of but he felt the pull of the weather all the same. He worked with Mrs. Penn who was very patient with Fred. She would notice that he was lost in a day dream and watch him wander out front to check the weather. She would gently remind him that the mail still needed sorting. She even brought in a radio and tuned in to the local weather station to distract him. As time passed, Mrs. Penn began to enjoy working with Fred. She thought his fascination with the weather was harmless albeit a bit eccentric. Once she got to know him, she discovered that Fred did have other things to talk about but he always brought up the weather. She saw how every lunch was spent outside regardless of rain, sleet, snow or sun. She would find Fred sitting on the bench out front with a look of pure happiness on his face. Luckily the post office was an old house with a deep porch.
Dorset Lake had a mailman but he was getting on in years. It so happened that the mailman was Mr. Penn and Mrs. Penn got an idea. She had wanted her husband to retire for many years but somehow the right person just never came along. Oh they came and tried but either the sun was too hot, the snow too cold or the rain too wet. Why put up with all this weather if you didn’t have to ? So one day Mrs. Penn spoke to Fred about her idea. How would he like to take over for Mr. Penn and deliver the mail ? They talked about what Fred would have to do and that he’d have to do it no matter what Mother Nature was sending down. Fred gave this serious thought. Finally someone believed in him. Finally someone was willing to give him a chance to prove himself. Finally he would be out in the weather that he loved and no one would look at him funny for trudging through the snow or sloshing in the puddles. He would be doing an important job. They decided he would try it out.
Fred instantly loved it. He could continue to work with his friend Mrs. Penn. He could continue to sort the mail. And he could be outside with the heat of the sun on his neck, the kiss of the wind on his face and the gently falling snow caressing his hair. Who cared if he was the town’s eccentric mailman ? He was finally happy. He had finally found his way.