Random Acts

By Juha Haataja

During last night someone put a spadeful of wet dirt into our mailbox, which stands outside by the street. The other mailboxes seemed to be all right, but our was all dirty outside and inside. The morning newspaper was relatively clean, if a bit wet. Fortunately the delivery man had put the paper on the top of the mailbox.

It was probably some kid or kids from the neighborhood who had thought to have a little fun: "You won't dare! I will, I will!"

This unpleasant suprise in the morning made me think about random acts. Why did this happen to me? Does someone have something against me?

A human being tries to make order out of chaos. I went outside with a screwdriver and started to detach the box from the post. It was warm and sunny outside by the street, a fine Autumn morning. While working, I started to imagine possible situations which could have resulted in our mailbox being stuffed with dirt.

The first possibility I came up with was about my writing career. I write articles and columns for an IT magazine with about 200 000 readers. Perhaps there is an insulted reader who decided to put feedback into the mailbox. I have been quite heavy-handed towards Microsoft and the IT profession in general. Would someone take offense?

However, the Finns are not too serious about columnists, and in any case this kind of vendetta does not fit the Finnish character. So, this story is quite unrealistic.

Another thought: a few days ago I posted to my weblog a link to the http://www.xenu.net website, which documents the brainwashing practices of the Scientology cult. Perhaps a member of that cult decided to act in case I should turn out to be a troublemaker. After reading throught the material at the Xenu site, this is not altogether impossible to imagine.

However, my blog has so few readers that "the revenge of the cult" is unlikely. However, this would be a fight I would really enjoy, so this story presented a nice scenario to imagine. Scientology represents those things is this world I despise: corrupt, power-hungry, gullible, taking advantage of the weak and the meek. A pyramid organization with few people doing well and most being exploited severely. In other words: modern slavery.

However, I had to be satisfied with the first explanation: a random act by kids. If you think about the situation and do a few calculations, this is not a too uncommon occurrence. There are probably a hundred or a thousand similar cases in Finland each day, kids being kids.

I detached the mailbox, hosed it clean with water, and dried it with a paper towel. Then I attached the box back to the post. Now the box is cleaner than before. I had a nice half-hour outside in the sun.

I'll ask the neighbors if they have had similar experiences. Come to think about it, a few weeks ago I saw a neighbor detaching his mailbox from the post. So, there were some kids doing their thing in the neighborhood. All was well.