I’m a skeptic. And I mean that in the hardest, most adamant terms. For me, the scientific principle holds. If there’s no evidence, I’m not convinced.
When I was younger, and would hear tall tales by others that they’d seen, or heard, or felt the presence of a ghost, I would roll my eyes if I was in a good mood, and tell them they were full of shit if I wasn’t feeling very gracious. I didn’t then, and don’t now, believe in any kind of an afterlife. There just can’t be anything like a ghost. Show me one, or show me how to detect one, and maybe…just maybe, now…we’ll talk seriously about it. Until then, it’s just so much hot air.
So what I had concluded, after some little thought, was that anyone who claimed to have seen a ghost was either:
A: lying like an incumbent politician.
B: Doin’ some ‘shrooms.
There was no middle ground, and no other alternative. If you told me you saw a ghost you were either a liar or you were floating wrong-side up.
And then I became a mailman, and within two weeks, everything changed.
It’s not that I saw a ghost. Well, not exactly. But what happened was that I gained…well…a new perspective. I began to see things a little differently. What I’m talking about are dogs. As in, dawgs. Mongrels. Flea-bitten mutts. Filthy, snarling, barking, biting, stinking fecal-factories. Those generally large, highly territorial, extremely aggressive carnivores that Mankind has dragged along for the ride into oblivion.
No, I did not see the ghosts brought to me by a dog. Although, I genuinely wished to send many hounds into the hereafter. (You know that movie, All Dogs Go to Heaven? For me, that’s not a title, but a reasonable proposition. All of them. Like, right now.)
No, no ghosts. What happened was that, as a new letter carrier, schlepping mail in the worst possible sections of the worst routes in town, I began to encounter dogs by the dozens. By the scores. Dogs tied up with rope. Dogs restrained by battleship chain. Dogs behind fences. Dogs on the other sides of doors. Dogs raging through closed windows. And, Jove help me, dogs running loose and slavering like speed-freak zombies for my precious flesh.
Within a week I was quite frightened of dogs. Within two weeks I began to hate them with a white-hot passion. Within three weeks I was carving notches in my postal vehicle steering wheel; one for each dog squashed.
I learned, in short order, fear of doggies. Yes, I was a caniphobe.
And here’s where I found a new respect for those who claim to see the ghost of the old maid who used to live down the block and at whose yard they rolled with tp in their junior year; for those who said they heard their drowned little brother calling out from the drainpipe in the sink; for those who said their husband’s spirit was haunting them for screwing around that time five years into their marriage.
I found that new respect because, by the regal head of Anubis, I was seeing dogs every-freaking-where I looked. I’d be lugging my mailbag down a garbage-strewn side road near the corner of Crip Street and Blood Avenue and look up and see a German shepherd waiting to pounce. Only to realize I was looking at a holly shrub. Or I’d be rounding the corner in the Hicksville Apartment Complex and see a Doberman scratching to leap from the edge of a building, only to realize it was nothing but a broom propped against a brick wall. In short:
I was seeing ghosts.
After about a year of being a mailman, I stopped seeing these dog shades. I learned how to just stop being scared witless of them all of the time and just be cautious and careful. Yeah, I’m still a little bit afraid of the worthless ass-licking bags of stench. But not to the point that I see them where they aren’t.
And I found, along the way, that while those people who say they see those ghosts aren’t really seeing anything at all, I do believe that THEY believe they’re seeing ghosts.
As for the notches in my steering wheel? Sixteen and counting. In mailman parlance, I’m an ace three times over.