Read Frost and the Mailman Online
Authors: Cecil Castellucci
Frost and the Mailman
© 2011 Cecil Castellucci
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Attn: Britton Schey
The trouble began with a bag that had a smudged label that said
O TH POLE
Ever since the U.S.
Postal system had installed the groovy new machines to sort the mail things had gone more smoothly, but there were still people eyeballing stuff.
And it was an unspoken thing that if any postal worker saw a letter that said “North Pole” or anything on it hinting that it was a letter to Santa Claus, they’d pluck it out and put it in a bag that said “North Pole.”
When that bag got full someone would put it in a special van that would take it to a secret place to meet up with a waiting elf and some reindeer, who would then take the mail the rest of the way, and then Santa would know who wanted what and who had been naughty and good.
It was sort of a thing that everyone in the postal service just knew to do.
But if there is one universal truth about Christmas, it’s that every single year someone tries to mess it up and then it has to be saved.
This is the story of the year that Daniel Wasserman, postman truck sorter of the first order and all-around good guy, got the job done (with a little help) of saving the big day, even though it wasn’t the kind of day he celebrated at all.
This year, the post office had created a new job: Director of Modernification of Postal Activities.
The director’s name was Ivan F.
Mann; one quick look at him and you knew that he had probably always been on the naughty list.
In June, Ivan F.
Mann decided to install a mega computer at the Post Office sorting hub.
“We live in the future!”
“From now on everything will be electronic!
A computer can see and sort mail at ten times the rate of a human!
We will have the most modern and efficient mail system in the world!”
Except for the sorters, who now had to either find jobs elsewhere or do different jobs at the post office.
They did not applaud.
Daniel was lucky.
He didn’t lose his job.
They put him in charge of loading the trucks.
On the last day of June all of the computers and robot arms were installed.
They looked weird.
Daniel and his co-workers spent the day doing what they did best, eyeballing the mail as it went on the conveyer belts, sorting it by zip code and country destination.
When Daniel and his co-workers saw a few of the special letters to Santa, they put them, as they always did, in a big red bag and brought it to the van in the corner that only ever drove to the secret spot up north.
At the end of the day, when the night shift began, everything would be computerized.
Daniel and his co-workers looked sadly around, and then they went out to karaoke because singing always made everyone feel better.
At midnight, Ivan F.
Mann’s super-computer took over.
It had to make a decision about the mailbag that said O TH POLE with a zip code that said H0H 0H0, which did not exist anywhere in the world.
It quickly decided to put the special van on a new run, to Albuquerque.
And then, the computer whirred and blinked and then decided with certainty and no imagination that there had been a mistake and that a bag of mail that said O TH POLE could only be going to one place: Antarctica, to the Science Station.
The computer dutifully made an adjustment that all bags labeled as such in the computer should be sent directly to the South Pole without delay, as should any and all mail to Santa Claus, St.
Nick, Pere Noel, Father Christmas and a million other variations.
That problem solved, the computer went about its business with no further trouble.
It wasn’t until early December that Daniel knew anything was wrong.
He was loading a bag on a truck that would bring the mail to the South Pole by ship or airplane, when the seam on one of the bags ripped.
The letters spilled out onto the garage floor.
Daniel noticed they were all addressed to Santa.
He checked the truck’s destination.
It clearly said SOUTH POLE.
“Hey, Iris,” Daniel asked.
He lives in the NORTH POLE right?”
Iris looked at him like he was asking a dumb question.
“You’re kidding, right?’
“I don’t celebrate Christmas so I’m just double-checking,” Daniel said.
“I mean, for all I know, maybe Santa moved!”
“North Pole,” Iris said.
“Always has lived there.
“Then I think we have a problem,” Daniel said.
One quick look at all the bags going to the South Pole revealed that, except for one tiny bag actually going to the Science Station, all the mail was intended for Santa.
“Who do we call?”
“I don’t really know,” Iris said.
“We are in a pickle.”
They were both stumped.
Iris suggested calling the manager.
So Daniel called the manager, who said to call the foreman, who said to call the main office, who said to call the postmaster, who said to call the tech department, who said to call the director himself, Ivan F.
“I am a busy man, please get to the point.”
“I think there has been a technical glitch,” Daniel said.
“You are mistaken,” Ivan said.
“My computer is perfect.”
“I think Santa’s letters are not getting to him,” Daniel said.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Ivan said.
“I’m sure that Santa is a modern man.
I’m sure he switched to email long ago.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Daniel said.
“There are an awful lot of letters here.”
“It is not my problem.
My system is flawless.”
And then Ivan F.
Mann hung up.
“What are you going to do?’
“I guess I’m going to bring the mail to the North Pole myself,” Daniel said.
He bought himself a hat and scarf, and got himself a GPS, and he loaded up a truck, not quite having the right permission to take it, and started driving north.
When he got to the meeting point, there was a sleigh with reindeer.
There was also a tiny little woman sleeping in the sleigh.
She sat up and stretched and then blinked at him.
She was wearing a green coat, trimmed with white fur, a very smart pointed hat and pointed boots.
She also had pointed ears.
She was the prettiest lady Daniel had ever seen.
You’re finally here!”
“I’ve been waiting since June.
I think there’s been some trouble with the mail.”
“Well, here’s the mail you’ve been missing,” he said.
He wanted to get back in the truck.
The North was a lot colder than he thought it was going to be.
“I guess this batch accidentally got marked South Pole.”
“Is that all of it?”
“Yeah,” Daniel said.
“It can’t be!”
the woman said.
“That’s barely any mail at all!”
“It’s a lot of mail,” Daniel said.
“No it isn’t,” the woman said.
Daniel looked at the mail.
It really was a lot of mail.
The truck was
The woman stood there looking at him.
She looked upset.
“The thing is,” the little lady said, “since June, we’ve had no mail at all.
I’ve just been sitting here.
“You haven’t gotten any mail since June?”
“Yes,” the woman said.
“Nothing, as in not one single piece of mail?”
“Yes,” the woman said.
“Not one piece of mail.
Meaning, every single piece of mail has gone missing.”
Now, it was not unusual for a letter or two to slip through the system.
It was unfortunate, but sometimes mail got lost.
Even so, people were still always getting things in the mail.
Even though no one really wrote letters anymore, they got bills and unwanted flyers.
They got catalogs and store coupons.
They got postcards for the theater.
And at this time of year, no matter what holiday you celebrated, you got holiday cards.
“Look, uh…” Daniel said.
Then he realized he didn’t know the woman’s name.
“Frost,” she said.
“Frost,” he liked her name.
And this is a very strange situation.”
“Yes, I agree,” Frost said.
They both sat on the sleigh and thought about the strange situation.
“I think I know what happened.”
He then explained to Frost all about Ivan F.
Mann and the new computer sorting system and how the bags that he’d found accidentally and was returning to her had been set to be sent to the South Pole.
To the Science Station.
“I understand,” Frost said.
“What you are saying is that Christmas is ruined.”
We can fix this.”
She was about to cry.
“We’ll call up the South Pole Science Station and have them forward it here,” Daniel said, pulling out his cell phone.
Only they spent the entire day trying to call the South Pole.
They were transferred from place to place to place.
No one knew where the bags were.
Until they finally reached Big Jim, the owner of the only warehouse space in Antarctica.
“You’ll have to come and get it,” he said.
“And also there’s rent due on the warehouse space.”
“We don’t have any money in the North Pole,” Frost said.
“What do you have?”
“Toys,” she said.
“We’ll think of something,” Daniel said.
Then he eyeballed the reindeer.
“Do those fly?”
“Of course,” Frost said.
“Well, let’s go to the South Pole and find the mail,” he said, his teeth chattering.
“Daniel, it’s pretty cold flying around in that thing.
We’ll need to stop and get you a proper coat.”
They got in the sleigh and traveled to the North Pole to pick up the thickest, warmest, coolest looking parka Daniel had ever worn.
Then they headed to the South Pole.
Daniel thought that flying south by reindeer was pretty awesome.
When they got there, Big Jim showed them the warehouse and the bill.
There were so many zeros that Frost and Daniel didn’t even know what kind of number that was.
It looked like more than a trillion billion dollars.
“Can’t let those bags go unless the rent’s paid,” Big Jim said.
“We don’t have that kind of money,” Frost said.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” Big Jim said.
“Rent’s gotta get paid.”
“Don’t you want to help save Christmas?”
In her experience, that usually did the trick.
“Don’t care much for Christmas,” Big Jim said.
Daniel noticed that Big Jim was eyeing his gold and white parka.
“Do you want to try it on?”
Big Jim asked.
“It’s very warm.”
“Warm is good down here in the South,” Big Jim said.
“Seems like no matter how many layers you wear, you’re still chilled to the bone.”
Big Jim slipped the coat on and began to smile.
“Now that is one warm coat,” Big Jim said.
“I must say, this is the best coat I have ever worn.”
“Would you trade?”
Frost piped up.
“All this mail and the rent for one coat?”
Big Jim laughed.
Daniel and Frost were beat.
“But if I had a warehouse full of coats like this, I’d make a fortune,” Big Jim said.
‘If you could maybe supply me with some so I could become the coat king of Antarctica, we might have a deal.”