I Have an Obsession with the Postal Service

Yi Shun Lai
3 min readMay 19, 2024
antique letters showing finnish stamps
Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

When I was three or four, we moved to the United States from Taiwan. After a short stint in Kansas with some relatives, my dad got a fellowship position in Pennsylvania, and we moved right around Christmastime.

I don’t remember meeting anyone, really. I know we had good neighborhood friends and that my parents were popular.

I do remember sitting outside, one snowy day, when the mailman came to deliver our post.

I don’t think my brother was born yet, so I must have been not quite five. I remember messing around in the soft, wet stuff, and the mailman walked up the steps and put our mail in the box, and then he came back down to where I was sitting on the walk, bent down, took a handful of snow in his bare hand and turned it over one-handed a couple of times, so it was packed into a ball. And then he handed it to me.

My mom still remembers the guy, and I have an impression of what he looked like — brown hair, bearded, eyes sloping sympathetically down at the corners. I don’t think he smiled, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t say anything; just packed up the snow, made me a snowball, gave it to me, and left.

I remember his hands, big and chapped. A little red, from the snow and cold. I remember thinking he was the kindest being I’d ever encountered.



Yi Shun Lai

Author: A SUFFRAGISTS’S GUIDE TO THE ANTARCTIC (2024), Pin Ups (2020). Former columnist, The Writer. theGooddirt.org Psst: Say “yeeshun.” You can do it!