I was home alone, making a sandwich in the kitchen when I heard it: the unmistakeable sound of a door in our apartment being tentatively opened. I froze, like a reindeer in the proverbial headlights, my knife poised mid-air, my eyes huge in my head. I stood frozen, straining to hear. There it was again, this time more confidently, a door somewhere in our home being pushed open. The muffled sound of a hand, reaching into a bag. This is it, I thought, I am going to die, making a sandwich and I’m not even sure I have the strength to put up a good fight with this butter knife.
Then footsteps, walking away now. I heard myself exhale, loudly. It was the postie, delivering mail through the slot in our front door.
In fact we have two front doors, about five inches apart and the first has a slot in it for the mail to be pushed through. The letters then sit securely in the space between the two doors until you collect them. This amazes me – to gain access to our building you need a key to open a gate and a heavy door at street level and then we are a few floors up. The fact the postie has a key to get in and is then expected to visit every front door in the building seems like such hard work. And we are only one building in the street!
In New Zealand and Australia, credit cards and packages are often delivered to unlocked mailboxes near the road and we trust they will still be there when we collect our post. I once had to open a mailbox with a pair of bolt cutters for a man who had gone to prison (work related, another story). I was surprised that no one said anything as I cut the padlock, his being one mailbox in a block of ten.
The Finns of course are not content to just settle with secure mail delivery – in 2011 they were the first country in the world to implement a carbon neutral postal service. Participation in initiatives designed to offset the carbon output of mail delivery is provided at no extra cost to consumers. Which is good news for us, as our postcards home can now be good for the heart and for the planet.