...Phil called out, rushing up to row of boxes, just as I pulled mail out of my box.
I explained as I do every time one of my neighbors is nice enough to inform that the mail carrier ~ who is a man ~ did not come "yet today", that "I do not get much mail, forget to check it, do not know if I checked it yesterday, or Monday, or was Monday a holiday, or even Saturday or Friday." Well, maybe I did not say all of that.
Explanation is a true lie. I truly do not remember when I last checked my box and I do not get a lot of mail. It is a lie because I do not go out to check my mail when Chris is outside and John is at home. I could tell John went to sleep after arriving home from work and after doing his noisy kitchen stuff; heard Chris a bit earlier, but his door was closed, so went out to check the mail ~ clear out circulars.
Used to be every time I went out to check my mail or leave by front gate, Chris would step outside his apartment staring. I assumed he was expecting his case worker, looking to see if person arrived yet. Then one day, as I was walking back to my apartment looking at the mail in my hands, John said "Hello, friend." I thought he was speaking to Chris, because they were already friends.
After John repeated it a few times, I was at my door, looked at Chris standing there, then turned to look back at John who had come outside, and said "Are you talking to me?".
I was already feeling uncomfortable with Chris. Most neighbors meeting in courtyard say "Hi, good morning, how ya doing today", but he never did and did not acknowledge my greeting. I was already feeling uncomfortable with John because he skewered his blinds. Since John thought it okay to stand at my kitchen window peering inside, yelling for me, in addition to opening his back door every time I opened mine, I became self-conscious walking past his apartment, either front or back.
That little light bulb went off in my head soon after the "hi friend" incident. Oh, my, no wonder why I was uncomfortable when Chris stepped outside as I was leaving my apartment ~ even if just to check the mail. I took to going outside at midnight when I had not checked it in a few days ~ but never on weekends, due to John.
I would lecture myself about how silly my behavior was, for a few days, stick to my regular routine of going out to check mail as soon as I heard mail carrier filling the boxes. Or after arriving home from library, because he is generally here between 12am ~ 1 pm when I would not be at home to hear him. A few days, usually end of week, he does not get here until 4pm.