One day just before Christmas, I come to the conclusion that my house is haunted by the ghost of a very, very angry postal worker.
For several months, the mailman neglects to take my outgoing mail. I chalk this up to any number of things, until the day I mention it to my next door neighbor, who replies: I’d be furious if he did that to me. I haven’t had that problem.
It has to be true, because if she had that – or any other – problem, I’d know.
Have you left mail out for him recently? I ask.
Yes, she says. A couple times a week, at least.
I get mad, and complain in person at the post office, which doesn’t solve the problem, so I start calling every time it happens – which, being December, is near daily.
A supervisor helpfully suggests that perhaps I’m not using the flag on the box. That’s true, I say, because the box has no flag. Neither does my neighbor’s box, and she doesn’t have that problem. For eight years, I didn’t either. Not until a couple months ago.
The supervisor says he’ll send the mailman back for my mail every day that he misses it.
I vent about this on Twitter.
Some guy in Europe replies.
No, I have no idea who this guy is. This is one of the things I love about Twitter: Suddenly, randomly, someone you’ve never met before can deliver your perfect punchline or helpful thought or provide some arcane piece of information that you can’t figure out how to Google.
So I reply. Anyone who’s willing to listen to my theories about Beetlejuice-like postal workers, I’m willing to talk to – at least briefly.
He counsels patience.
The next day, someone decides to – quite legally – park in front of my mailbox, despite the half mile of adjacent, legal, empty curb they could have chosen instead. I explode, and vent on Twitter again. I leave an irate note on the car’s windshield, which I start to sort-of regret a half hour later when the tow-truck arrives to cart off the apparently broken-down vehicle.
It looked fine to me.
A day or so later, EuroTweeter checks in again. How’s my Christmas going?
I vent some more about the post office, and then regale him with enthralling tales of my office-cleaning.
The fact that he – or anyone, for that matter – is interested in any of it, is a red flag of the type that even I can see. I check his profile.
I can’t work out where he currently lives, and much of his tweeting appears to be in Swedish, which is another big red flag: The Foreigner is fluent in Swedish,too. This guy isn’t The Foreigner, and I have nothing against Sweden (in fact, I’m a big fan of IKEA), but in the absence of any additional information, any parallels I can draw to past, failed relationships are of critical importance.
I inquire how his holidays are going, and he says fine, not too busy. He’s not really very social, he says. Presumably he meant to add, in person.
I ask where he’s from and he suggests I follow him back if I want to know more. I don’t really, but I think, what harm could it do? I follow lots of people on Twitter, and vice versa.
He direct messages me the next day. He’s very glad to “see” me again on Twitter.
I feel very uneasy, like I was offered a walk to a well-lit bus stop on a major street and ended up being driven in a stranger’s car on a very dark road.
EuroTweeter messages me privately again the next day. There’s nothing odd about the messages, just hello and where he’s from and so on. But I can’t shake the feeling and although I consider any number of responses, public and private, I decide the best response is none.