Back when my parents were newlyweds, they shared a house with a couple who had two young children.
Despite the fact that my parents were unfamiliar with the other couple, they ran into each other on a number of occasions while picking up the newspaper from their respective doorsteps or checking the mail.
The woman who lived across the street died one day. It came as a complete surprise. She was extremely inexperienced.
Her husband had recently become a widower. He was faced with the prospect of raising their two young children on his alone.
Social Security survivors benefits were available to the children because they were still minors at the time of their parents’ death.
Simply completing the papers was all that their father required. Unfortunately, because the forms were not written in his native language, he had difficulty comprehending what he was required to complete.
The man sought assistance from a neighbor, who assisted him in filling out the necessary paperwork. There was only one snag in the plan. The neighbor made a mistake when filling out the forms.
Instead of writing down the street number forty-two on the forms, he wrote down the number forty-three instead.
That presented an issue.
Every day, the widower went through his mail, hoping for the Social Security survivors’ benefits cheques that were due to his children.
After a few weeks, he was able to identify the problem. As a result, the following time his mail was delivered, it was missing those critical checks, and the guy inquired as to what he should do.
Instead, he requested that my mother inquire of the mailman as to what he should do. My mother was only too delighted to act as a translator for the occasion.
The essential question was posed to the mailman by her.
How was this father going to be able to obtain the checks his children deserved in order to assist them with their financial needs now that their mother had died away?
“You need to get in touch with the government department and request that they send the cheques to the correct address,” the mailman responded.
The information was passed on to me by my mum.
Following my mother’s request that he express his gratitude to the postmaster for his counsel, the man made the decision to ignore the mailman’s instructions and take matters into his own hands.
It had already been difficult for him to locate someone who could assist him with the paperwork in the first place.
They expected him to fix it now, didn’t they? He was of the opinion that this was not the case.
My mother volunteered to assist him in repairing the problem, but he claimed that he had a better solution.
A little later in the day, my mother noticed him painting the number forty-three in enormous digits on the side of his house door.
He painted the new house number on the wall exactly across from the previous house number, which was painted on the opposite wall.
To my mother’s amazement, it turned out to be effective.
Perhaps the mailman was preoccupied and didn’t notice. Perhaps it was simply not his responsibility to prevent people from changing their addresses on their own.
Perhaps he simply felt sorry for the young widower who was left to raise his two tiny children on his own.
Whatever the cause, those Social Security checks with the incorrect address printed on them began arriving at the residence with the new number painted alongside the old number like clockwork.
No matter though the solution was technically erroneous, it was effective anyway.
Unfortunately, there was no house on the block that already had the number forty-three on its front door. Things may have gotten much more difficult as a result of this.
I have my doubts that such a maneuver would be successful today, but it did not happen today. It took place nearly half a century ago today.
Since then, the widower has passed away, and his two tiny children are swiftly reaching the age of majority.