Stick and lick

Stick and lick

The letters would come in. I’d read some of them. Builders notices. That’s who we worked for. A building company.

We’d be in the mail room for hours. One box would fill up, then another would come in. More letters. Thank you Rina.

Jordan and I listened to the radio. Every time something groovy came on (which was rare), we’d dance. There were a few songs we had lined up.

That was how the radio went. The most catchy songs got the most plays. Everything else gets drowned out. Bad music isn’t good for advertising.

There were no windows. Papers everywhere. We only had to worry about three boxes. The envelopes, empty letters and the things we had to put in them. Sometimes I’d run out of envelopes so I’d ask Jordan for more.

Here you are brother.

Thank you.

He was going overseas soon. On a mission for his religion. I didn’t understand it. Travel the world for a church? Doing what?
My biggest concern was who I was going to dance with. The other ladies were a bore.

I made one up. Kate Woods. I told Dave I slept with her in the mailroom.


Yes, really.

In the mailroom?


A lie. I was a virgin and I needed a cover story to fit in. It lasted a few years until I owned up to it.

When the doors closed and it was just me and Jordan. We turned the music up. Then the ladies would come in and tell us to turn it down.

That music got us through. The routine was simple. Envelope, letter, stamp, seal. Why us? Because the mail machine was broken. Some smart person had made a machine to do this work because they knew what it did to a man.

The whole time I was in this mailroom I had a feeling. I shouldn’t be here. I didn’t know where but I knew it wasn’t here. But sealing envelopes meant a cheque would come in at the end of the week.

Chris sat at the head desk. He was the old guy in the office. Colin had long hair then short hair. He only cut it once per year, saved money he said. Jenny had glasses and sat next to Chris. Eliza was across from me when I wasn’t in the mailroom. She gave me the boxes to scan. I’d get in at 9 and finish them by 10 and walk over to her.

I’m finished.

Well you could go and help Jordan in the mailroom if you like.


And I kept doing that. The machine stayed broken. There was no way Jordan could do it on his own. These letters had to get out. What if Richard White at 47 Saul St didn’t get his builders brochure?

I could imagine him sitting there after laying bricks all day. Opening his letters. One from us in blue and yellow. More things to do. More papers to fill out. Then I imagined him setting it down on the table beside him and forgetting about it until we sent another.

After a few hundred or so, a small film of paste collected on your lips and tongue. The glue from the envelopes started to come off. This stuff might be poisonous I thought. So we changed it up. Got a small damp rag which did the licking for us.

The stamps were easy. They came off and went on. Now that I think about it, there was no better feeling than landing one right in the top corner where it was supposed to go. If the edges of the stamp lined up with the letter, you got a good one. I’d line them up every 10 or so. The rest were a little off but not enough to matter.

One of our songs came on and the rate of letters slowed down. We danced for a few minutes then went back to it.

How many letters do you think we’ve done today?

A million.

No way. It’s not that many.

It feels like it.

Eliza was in the room.

Six dozen per box remember.

She never told us why. To fix it we put rubber bands around a dozen at a time. When there were six groups, we put them together in the box.

She saw our system.

No rubber bands, the postman doesn’t like them.

We kept the system but took the rubber bands off when the letters went in the box. This kind of engineering on our behalf came for free.

The repairman for the mail machine was never showing up anyway. When he did he said there was something wrong but wasn’t sure what and he’d be back next week.

The ladies would ask.

Do you know what’s wrong?

I’m not sure.

Okay, that’s alright, we’ve got the boys on the letters for now.

They all the left and closed the door. We turned the music back on. There wasn’t another good song for a few hours. No dancing but plenty of letters got done.

Who needed a mail machine anyway? We were mailing machines.

When we really got into it I’d forget about the feeling. Until one of the ladies would walk in and say that music is too loud. Then it came back.