How is it Still a (Midd) Thing?


By Charlie Ascher

If you were to think of the most surefire way to make yourself look stupid what would it be? Answering a question wrong in class? Calling someone the wrong name? Pushing a pull door? Nope. Without a doubt it has to be opening the McCullough mailboxes.

The McCullough mailbox locks have probably caused me more embarrassment than my mouth ever has — and that is saying something. How are these locks still a thing?

Mailboxes are so important here: I probably get what, seven letters a year? Two are pamphlets from the bookstore, four are holiday letters and the last is a cryptic newspaper clipping from my grandma. Big shout out to my grandma for being the only person to make a college-aged male hum the “We Just Got A Letter” song from Blue’s Clues as he goes to open his mailbox.

Here’s the thing; when I finally finish humming Blue’s Clues songs and go to open my mailbox, I’m faced with a puzzle that would have caged Nic Cage in “National Treasure.” I have yet to check if the solution is hidden in the Declaration of Independence. Nothing cages Nic Cage … except for the McCullough mailbox locks.

If you have ever had to get mail out of your mailbox, you know what the problem is. Never had a problem opening your mailbox? Congratulations, you’re a master lock picker. I am convinced that opening a Middlebury mailbox in one try is a miracle almost as great as breakfast for dinner.

It should be a straightforward affair. All you have to do is twist a knob to three numbers, turn the knob one more time, and pull the door to you. It just never goes that easily.

The mailboxes can smell fear. You double-check your mailbox combination because despite being a college-aged student able to remember obscure details about the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell!), you can’t for the life of you remember three one or two digit numbers. You then double-check the instructions so there is no way you turn the knob the wrong way.

Finally, you muster up the courage to make your attempt. After turning the antagonist wheel with a precision you last used entering your CRNs in Bannerweb, you pull the door only to be met with a thunk.

Convinced that everyone in the mailroom is watching you, you feel like a miserable failure. That’s what the mailbox wants. Maybe it’s the fact that the locks spin in the opposite direction of normal locks, or maybe it’s that finicky last turn at the end, but in any case, these locks are legitimately the worst.

I am utterly convinced that switching out the mailbox locks would decrease student embarrassment numbers by at least 37 percent. This is clearly a switch that needs to be made. It’s time for you to stop feeling like a failure and start feeling like Nic Cage.
How are the mailbox locks still a thing?