The Adventures of Post Man Gordon - The Case of the Missing Keys
Clinton University is an esteemed educational facility and well renowned for its academic success in the Humanities, Arts and Languages. This is what parents reassured themselves with as they wrote out cheques for their offspring. Said offspring were, of course, very interested in the academic side of things but also wanted to be sure that they had rounded education and saw some of the local colour and experienced living away from home for the first time properly. Basically, they wanted to have a good time and make the most of their new-found freedom.
On Oak Street one of the biggest Halls of Residence was managed by Tom. He was a caretaker, facilities manager and all round useful person and staff and students alike were very fond of him. One of his many, many tasks was taking the post from the campus to all the various halls of residence and popping them into the multiple letterboxes in each hall. The students would then, eventually, collect their mail. Tom occasionally felt the need to remind them to do this – most got almost all their correspondence on their phones by one or other method so an actual paper letter was quite a rarity. Tom recalled the days when students would queue up excitedly for their post in the main post room as it was their main connection to home. He remembered one girl had a boyfriend at home who sometimes sent her 12 letters a day! Those were the days, he thought. Now it’s just Facebook and Snap Chat and WhatsApp. No romance at all.
He also remembered a time when people with a problem would have to book to see him at set times. Now, he had a work mobile and there was no escape from dripping taps, stuck windows and flooding toilets. But he enjoyed his job and often regaled his friend Gordon with tales of what the students had been up to lately. Recent pranks that contravened at least 3 health and safety rules included students dangling out of the window of the 4th floor with a clothes hanger on a string. The idea behind this was to scrape the window beneath and scare the wits out of the occupant of that room who they knew to be watching Poltergeist which was on TV. It worked. There is a wine stain on the ceiling to prove it as she jumped 3 foot in the air whilst clutching a glass of red.
But most days were more mundane.
“I’ve lost my post key” the voice on the other end of the phone said. “It was on my desk and now it’s not. C’nave another one?”
Again, Tom sighed. The students seemed to more or less manage to keep hold of building keys but it was completely beyond them to keep track of the little keys that opened their post boxes.
“This is your third time! I’ll have to charge you if you do it again. They don’t grow on trees you know! What number are you?”
Later in the pub, Tom said to Gordon “I think I might have to start hanging them round their necks you know. Or perhaps they could have them integrated into a suitable piercing?”
“A bit drastic!” Gordon said, “but it must be costing a fortune keep replacing them all the time”
“It is. And in the meantime, while they are on order they keep getting me over with my master key to get them into the post-box. Like I’ve nothing better to do.”
Tom put up a notice: PLEASE LOOK AFTER YOUR LETTERBOX KEY. REPLACEMENTS WILL BE CHARGED AT £25
“Did it work?” Gordon asked.
“Did it heck” Tom sighed. “But now instead of just saying they’ve lost it they’re coming up with the most crazy excuses which take me time to listen to. Anything to try and get out of paying.”
“I might have a plan if you think the Uni will go for it”
“Go on. This is driving me nuts. They’re telling me now that a ghost is stealing letterbox keys because of a dead postman or some such. I can’t bear to listen to the garbage anymore. It’s not even that inventive. What happened to young people’s ability to spin a good yarn?”
“I dunno. But how about a combination lock on them.”
“No keys you mean?”
“Well, there’s a master key for you but everyone else has to use a pin, which they set themselves. Letterbox4You sell them made especially.”
“They’d forget the code!”
“Well, possibly. But most of them have a bank card, they manage to remember that”
“hmmm. I like it. It has to be better”
Tom put his business case to the university and the new, combination lock letter boxes were installed over the next holiday. Tom was still to be seen running about the campus, a slave to his phone and the endless list of tasks. But there weren’t quite so many post boxes in need of a spare key of tales of hauntings and mysterious disapearances.