A Too-Small Place

I’m not a mind-other-people’s-business kind of girl, and I don’t think it unreasonable to expect that the favour be returned.


However, I must admit to once being privy to someone else’s private business – inadvertently.


It was one of those times when I realized that the allure of living on a small island is seriously overrated. Because whereas in a larger country you’re unlikely to cross paths with the same person twice, on a small island, you actually know quite a few people who you are more than likely to see again.


It began innocently enough. I had picked up the mail from the letter box as I ordinarily do at the end of a work day. Having rifled through it, I saw that most of the letters were business-related and decided to open them when I returned to work the next day.


When I did so, I noticed that one of the envelopes was hand-written. I immediately assumed that it was someone applying for a job in letter form as people sometimes did back then. I readied myself to see a hand-written CV (if I was lucky), or a letter requesting consideration for a job.


What I saw instead was quite different. After reading the opening salvo salutation, I searched for the envelope that the letter had come in, and reviewed the address thinking that that the people at the Post Office had screwed up and put somebody else’s mail in my box.


But no. The address was correct, but the letter had clearly not reached the right addressee. And then I realized that while I didn’t know the person to whom the letter was directed, I did in fact know the person who had sent it.


To say that the person penning the letter was upset is to put it mildly. It began with the mother of all choice words – yes, that one. And it continued with a few more. It was clear that the relationship between the writer and the intended recipient was a bit strained at the time of writing.


Talk about too much information.


As I said, I actually knew the aggrieved person, and it was difficult to reconcile that person who admittedly I only “knew” in passing, with the person whose words had flowed from this acerbic pen. It had already hit me that I had seen way more than I should have, but by that time I was too invested to stop.


Having come to the end of the letter, I scrambled to see if I could re-use the envelope and get it to the person it was really meant for, since – and again because it’s a small place – I believed that I knew the business place where it really should have gone.


I considered calling over there, but how to explain the open envelope? Who would believe that I hadn’t seen what was inside? The last thing I wanted to do was cause anyone to be embarrassed.


Image credit: hencam.com
Image credit: hencam.com

Then I thought that I should write the correct address and just put the stamps on the new envelope myself. But there was no way I was going to be able to approximate the handwriting that was on the inside. A typed envelope perhaps? I discarded that idea too.


In the end, I threw away the letter, and tried to forget what I had seen. But whenever I passed the letter-writer on the street, I couldn’t help but remember.



12 thoughts on “A Too-Small Place

    1. It really is. It only came back to me when I scanned one of the writing prompts that had been sent out. Only I didn’t have to imagine what the letter might have said.
      I think I’ll bury that memory again.

  1. Ouch. I probably would have done the same. Being in the middle of such conflict is never a good idea.

    Meanwhile, just taking a moment to appreciate the fact that people still send handwritten letters in this century! So cool!

    1. When this letter was sent it was quite a few years ago – what would be considered the old days – which was before we realized that one could curse somebody out just as easily and completely online.
      But I also wonder why the person didn’t use the phone.

  2. Hmmmmm!!!!!!!It is exactly for the reason of ‘too small a place’ that I fear none of the above observations would have been the final outcome…..knowing what I now know of ‘too small a place’…I can bet my bottom dollar that the parties involved, inevitable run into each other, most likely at the most inappropriate place, ie the supermarket, on the Apua bill paying line, and had a ‘tete-a-tete’…going at each other sideways….

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