Letter carrier avoids grievous spiderweb injury

Image of single strand of spiderwebAn alert Canada Post mail carrier avoided grievous injury last week when he noticed an Arachne-lain booby trap at a Nova Scotia home. The serious and possibly deadly hazard, a single strand of spiderweb that crossed the front walkway leading to Kevin Keating's Dartmouth home, could have had dire consequences had the letter carrier not possessed specialized training and finely honed observational skills. "The poor guy could have been turned into a PEZ dispenser!", one observer stated, emphasizing the seriousness of the matter. "Mail carriers walk at a pretty fast pace," he continued, "and a single strand, catching you in the throat, could take a fella's head straight off!" Another observer, commenting on the nature of the spiderweb's minimalist design added, "Those single-stranders are the worst kind. They're like razor wire. Decapitate a man they will!" A minimalist spiderweb construction has very unique etymology and characteristics.

Keating, the owner of the Dartmouth home, indicated he was unaware of the peril and suspected his mail "was being stolen". Several days had passed without mail delivery before he noticed anything was wrong and inquired into the matter. Eight days later, he was informed a handwritten note had been left in his mailbox advising him of the spiderweb's danger. Canada Post, commenting on whether or not the mail carrier in question may have been overzealous in shutting down delivery when faced with a spider web maintains that safety is an important concern for letter carriers.

Property owners should likely be aware that individual letter carriers use their own discretion to ascertain matters of safety on an ad hoc basis. As a consequence, property owners should expect considerable diversity into what might constitute a safety issue and, thus, adopt a liberal consideration of what may actually be considered a potential danger from the perspective of the individual letter carrier. Examples of possible perils may include, but are not limited to:

  • Airborne Debris
  • An unkempt lawn is the primary source for the most serious of airborne perils: Taraxacum officinale. The yellow blossom of Taraxacum officinale (commonly referred to as dandelions) matures into a white puffball. This white fuzz, to which the weed's seeds are attached, acts like a parachute and the seeds are carried by prevailing winds to ensure the propagation of the species. Mercifully, most letter carriers recognize the dangers associated with airborne Taraxacum officinale seeds. Widely speculated as "more dangerous than lawn Jarts", these airborne seed projectiles could easily take out an eye or fatally impale an unsuspecting letter carrier. A well manicured lawn, free from Taraxacum officinale, will help to ensure an interuption of mail delivery service does not occur.
  • Falling Debris
  • No one is more aware of the potential danger posed by falling objects than Canada Post letter carriers. Well, perhaps no one more than the family and friends of the late Isaiah Otieno: a Kenyan national, attending school in British Columbia, who "was killed ... when a helicopter plunged from the sky and struck him on the street below" (The Star: 14 May 2008) back in May 2008. Though not generally as fatal as plummeting helicopters, gravity-laden fruit of the Pinus Pinoideae (commonly referred to as pine cones) may cause blunt force trauma to the skull inducing concussion. Conscientious property owners, wishing to avoid mail interruptions from this perceived peril, may choose to rid their property of all conifers.
  • Seasonal Perils
  • Most individuals generally consider the seasonal perils associated with winter, such as icey sidewalks, ominous looming icicles and snow covered walkways, to be the most obvious reasons for a cessation in mail service. One should never underestimate the ingenuity of the letter carrier at being able to discern even the most subtle seasonal peril. One such often overlooked peril, particularly relevant at this time of year, is that posed by the droppings of migratory geese. The danger posed by gooseturd is three-fold: First, there's the obvious airborne projectile aspect as described above. Second, there's the occupational health and safety aspect associated with disease. And third, the least tenable, is the shit-slick factor. Goose droppings are extremely slippery and the risks associated with slipping on this peril are great. If you're fortunate enough to live in the country, you can haul out your trusty 10-guage and blow the honking bastards out of the sky. This will minimize goose droppings and the risk of mail service interruption. This technique also works on Ledbury, Ritchie Street or pretty much anywhere in Vanier, where gunshot blasts go predominantly unnoticed. Of course, depending on your locale, your mileage may vary.
  • Sedentary Stealth Perils
  • Sedentary stealth perils, such as single-strand spiderwebs, tend to be the most difficult to definitively characterize and predict. One might suspect it's because postal employees waste no effort in using their imagination to envision the degree and severity of injuries they might endure when confronted by such perils. These perils lay in wait, assuming a stealth-like posture, their seemingly innocuous character making them difficult to identify to the untrained eye. Grass clippings, butterflies, chipmunks, squirrels, and yes, even chirping birds. More than two feathered friends engaged in melodic birdsong can, to the imaginative letter carrier, represent a noise peril capable of shattering eardrums! One final note on sedentary stealth perils. If there's more than one or they form a line of any sort, postal workers will honour the line. It's a fundamental part of their bretheren spirit of solidarity.
In conclusion, if mail delivery to your house suddenly stops for no apparently overt reason, rest assured, there's likely a very good health and safety reason behind the stoppage. Never, under any circumstances, underestimate the imaginative powers of the letter carrier to shirk their responsibility in the name of safety.

Submitted by Jeff Dubois, 01 October 2011