He has deeply wrinkled, sun-soaked, almost orange skin. His shoulder length stringy hair is hidden underneath his helmet, peaking out between the chin straps. It’s a sight that’s more likely to be found in a retirement community in south Florida than the temperamental climate of Melbourne’s inner suburbs. He sits on top of red bike low to the ground, halfway pedaling, halfway walking. Wearing his neon green vest with reflectors, you can practically see him from Windsor all the way to South Yarra. He saunters down Chapel Street in this half-pedal, half-walk greeting the employees of the bars and restaurants daily with his indiscernible cheer.
When I first started working at the restaurant on Chapel Street, I only worked at night. Then, one odd Wednesday I worked during the day. I was cutting vegetables with a veteran salad star when we heard a knock at the door. The mailman, still sitting on his bike, opened the door with his right hand and threw our mail on the table with his left. He screamed something that I couldn’t understand and gave us a big smile and wave. My coworker waved back. “I’ve worked here for six months,” she said with a laugh, “and I;ve got no idea what he says every day.”
About a month ago, I went with one of my English students to Ben & Jerry’s free cone day. We were lined up along Chapel Street, us and about a thousand school kids from the are surrounding South Yarra to St. Kilda. They were in their dainty uniforms, getting a cone jumping back in line, finishing it just before they were signaled in to get their next one.
We were waiting a few minutes behind the chatter of school gossip before I saw the familiar neon green vest. The mailman was half-pedaling, half-walking down the sidewalk going against traffic. Happy as ever, he had a cone in his right hand and held the handle bars with his left. I heard him chuckling and he raised his cone up to the people in line and nodded his head as if it was his 10th beer of day. He was smiling and saying something to the people next to him. I couldn’t understand what he said. I’m not sure they did either.
Featured photo: Graffiti off of Chapel Street in Windsor
This post is part of weekly series titled Character Tuesday, where every Tuesday I bring you a story about (a) unique individual(s) I’ve encountered. Like I always say, life can be good or bad, but as long as it’s entertaining, that’s all you need. This series is meant to celebrate our quirks and idiosyncrasies.