The Postman Always Waves Twice

Sometimes, a person we barely know can make an enormous difference in our lives.

For me, it’s the postman — but not for the reason most of you might imagine.


I started working at home last June, when my law partner retired and I transitioned to splitting my schedule between practicing law and writing.

At first, I didn’t like working from home. Twenty-year habits die hard, and I was used to getting up and “going to work” in an office building. Gaining traction in the new environment proved more difficult than I imagined.

One of the brightest parts of my day was (and remains) the postman–but not because of the mail.


My office sits at the front of the house. A walkway runs in front of the window, behind the garden, and through a hole in the hedge that separates my yard from the neighbor’s. The postman uses the path to go from my house to the next, and every morning he says hello and waves to me through the window as he passes.

It’s one of the high points of my day, and I miss it when he’s on vacation or has a substitute.

For the past twelve months, we’ve said hello without any formal introductions. I’ve often considered saying more, but it doesn’t take long to pass a window, and he’s never stopped to chat. 


This morning, however, the postman delivered a box containing extra copies of CLAWS OF THE CAT that I needed for giveaways, and to replenish my personal stock. He waved and pointed to the box as he came up the walk, knowing that I could see him from the window. I met him at the door, said a longer hello, and finally explained what I do for a living.

He was more than a little surprised.

When I learned that he likes to read, I gave him a copy of CLAWS–and I hope he likes it. I always hope that people enjoy it, but in this case, that hope has a special edge. His cheerful greetings mean a lot to me, and it would be really nice to give him a smile in return.

I’ve learned an important lesson from the postman this past year. It doesn’t take much to make a stranger’s day. A smile and a pleasant word or two can turn a person’s day around completely.

You never know whose life you might touch, or improve, by simple kindnesses. I know I’ll keep it in mind, and try to pay it forward when I can.

Has a stranger ever impacted your life, or given you an unexpected joy? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

11 thoughts on “The Postman Always Waves Twice

  • June 16, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Love this! And so very true. Glad you’re settling into your new lifestyle, Susan!

    • June 17, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Thanks Kathy! I’m glad too – it’s been an adjustment, but now I don’t think I ever want to go back to the other way.

  • June 16, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Nice post, Susan.

    In the late 1980s, a stranger in Dijon, France, paid for my groceries. I had rather stupidly not converted my dollars to francs right before Bastille Day and misunderstood the worth one of the few coins I had. I never got the stronger’s name but won’t forget his kindness to an American college student.

    • June 17, 2014 at 9:18 am

      What a great experience, Kim. I wonder if that stranger still thinks of you from time to time, with joy that he was able to help you. I hope so. It’s nice to know that there are lovely people out there ready to just step in and help when they see a need. Plus, what a great way to make you feel more at home when you were a guest in a strange land.

  • June 16, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Oh, lovely! I’m a sucker for a smile and a wave, too. It doesn’t take much to make my day. Even a nod from another dog owner as I’m walking my hounds makes me feel connected.

    • June 17, 2014 at 9:16 am

      Doesn’t it? It never ceases to amaze me how much we can do for one another with “just” a little gesture like a smile, a nod, or a simple hello.

  • June 17, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing this written rendition. Beautiful. Postman will always remember your kindness. This is the radical in hospitality and didn’t take much to develop the relationship, just the kindly wave in the morning. Even a wave matters. Bless you sister. It is a joy getting to know you.

    • June 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      Thank you Carolyn! It’s a blessing to me to get to know you too. You know, I didn’t even think about this as hospitality – but you’re right, it’s exactly the kind of thing we were discussing in group!!

  • June 19, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Yes. When I was 15, I was walking on the streets of London. A young man stopped me and asked me what my philosophy of life was. It shook me to my core. All my life, I’d been told what to think. No one had ever before asked me. It was an epiphany.

    • June 23, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      That is so cool. I love that a stranger was able to have such a big effect, too. Makes you wonder where he is now, and whether he knows what a huge impact he had on you.

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