South Africans don’t seem to care much about what happens to the mail when they move. Perhaps it’s because SAPO (South African Postal service) is on strike so often that people don’t notice the difference between bad service and no service. But since we moved here we’ve been getting letters for at least 2 previous tenants and over 10 people who told their bank they live here before taking out a loan. So it’s not junk mail – I’m talking about bank and mortgage statements, insurance documents and airline loyalty cards. It’s tempting to open them of course, but scribbling return to sender on the envelope is rather satisfying, and walking to the mailbox gives me a welcome reason to get out and about.
Other than that, we get a weekly free newspaper, the Melville Northcliff Times, which is simultaneously a very scary and a very funny read. On the one hand, there are appallingly spelled letters from well-meaning citizens about “blasphemous advertising corrupting the morals of our youth” (a billboard for a rather tame strip club), heartfelt complaints about the terrible state the roads are in, endless discussions about the new separated rubbish collection scheme, protests against restaurants opening up in residential areas, and a page in Afrikaans about the krieket and other sporting achievements of the suburb’s all-white youth (nearly all the ones on the photos are, anyway). And then the spooky reports about crime; stolen cars, break-ins, shootouts at the shopping centre where we get our milk, etc.
Even more fun are the flyers, at least a few every week. Most of them are put in the mailbox, but some are stuck to our gate with some kind of sticky chewing gum – as if that’s going to impress potential clients. The majority of flyers are offers to unclog drains, paint walls, buy/sell our house, lay new grass and remove rubble; simple photocopies with shoddy spelling (‘painting walles’). Every now and them a gem ends up in the mailbox. Like this one, Professor Wakho‘s wacky solutions for just about everything.