Be on the lookout for quirky mailbox author

I knew mailboxing would be fun, what I didn’t know was that it might land me in handcuffs.

Reflecting on my recent roadside run-in with law enforcement, I consider the humorous likelihood that officer Joe Shields of the Bainbridge Island Police Department has body-cam footage of me explaining away my “suspicious” behavior as routine mailboxing.

I’ve got three months of mailboxing under my belt and with time the need to explain what I’m doing while out in the field has diminished. Nowadays, when I’m working a neighborhood, I mostly get, “Oh yeah, I heard about that!”

The recognition of my quirky project is satisfying and while tooling around BI in my white VW Beetle, I fancy myself as the “Mailbox Lady.”

On Aug. 11 while driving along the lavishly treed streets of Battle Point, I continued to celebrate the creative identity of our community. Ensconced in this reverie I failed to notice the frantic lady running behind my car, trying to wave me down.

At the same time, in an alternate (but equally powerful) universe where I am not the darling of all things happy and light, but rather “the suspect,” there were no less than three patrol carslooking for me and the white VW Bug that had been on law enforcement radar for weeks.

Mail theft on BI is up 200 percent and one of the perps has been caught on camera in a white VW Beetle. Armed with that knowledge, the frantic flagger observed me fussing about a mailbox and fleeing the scene in a white VW Beetle — thus she wasted no time in calling 911. She also posted a warning on the Battle Pointers Facebook page. Thus, the neighborhood and local police went into high alert.

Blissfully unaware and having finished mailboxing for the day I pointed my white VW Bug toward home but as often happens, stopped to photograph one last mailbox — it was an adorable pastel striped number. That’s when the first patrol car showed up.

The officer exited out of his vehicle and spoke something indecipherable into his walkie-talkie. The next thing that popped into my head was, “Bad boys, bad boys whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” I nearly laughed at the absurdity but Officer Shields (as per the embroidered patch on his uniform) looked serious. I quickly take stock of my own appearance and think it can hardly be menacing — straw hat, clam diggers, espadrilles…white VW Beetle replete with a dog bed in the passenger’s seat.

Motioning with a slight nod of his head toward the house behind me Shields requests identification and asks, “Do you live here?” (In a way that indicates he knows full well I don’t). Fumbling to get my license out of my hot pink Vera Bradley wallet with a Marimekko like printed lining I mumble something ridiculous about the wallet being new as the reason for not getting my license out from behind the clear protective plastic more easily but the truth is, I’m scared witless.

He said he received a call about someone suspicious stealing mail, and I launch into my explanation that I’m writing a book about the quirky mailboxes of Bainbridge Island, hoping he’ll see the entire situation for the misunderstanding that it is. He does.

By the time backup arrives, the situation has been diffused, and Shields explains to officer Joe Fastaia, “She’s writing a book about the quirky mailboxes of Bainbridge Island.” Fastaia responds, “That is the most Bainbridge Island thing to happen to me on duty in three months!”

PSA: It should be noted that the white VW Beetle suspected of mail theft is a convertible model (unlike mine) and was caught on camera during after-hours. Rest assured, the “Mailbox Lady” does not case neighborhoods under the cover of darkness.