© Guardian Photo
By Linda Webber (guest opinion)
I am still upset by what happened last Tuesday night. I don’t know if the man I tried to help is fine or had a heart attack or some other incident after he left for home.
On my way home about 7:30 p.m. I decided to see if I could get my mail. Two days earlier the “Canada Post Box” I must use was surrounded by banks of snow that I did not want to try to negotiate. So it had been a while since I’d checked my box. When I drove up to the box I saw a car in front of it with its lights flashing. Then I noticed the man in the snow between the car and the box. The snow didn’t actually look that deep, in the dark, but this man had one leg sunk in the snow over his knee and the other stuck not quite that far. As I watched I realized he was stuck: he kept heaving himself up to try to get loose but would only fall back, sometimes on his back, and have to struggle just to get upright again.
I got out of my car to help and realized this man must have been stuck for a while. His breathing was labored and he looked exhausted. Keeping one foot on the road I stepped as far as I could into the snowbank (up to my knee) and was able to just reach his arm with my hand. He grabbed it and we both pulled and he managed to get one leg out but only enough to move a little closer to the car. After a couple of tries like this he finally was close enough to touch his car, but landed on his knees, basically stuck again. One more struggle by him and lift by me got him on his feet on the street.
All this time this man (not a young man) was breathing very hard and clearly very stressed and worn out. I kept asking if he was all right. I am well aware of how unexpectedly heart issues can arise and his labored breathing and apparent instability gave me cause for concern. However, in response to my questions all he said was “OK,” “fine,” and either (I can’t remember exactly): “this is wrong” or “this is not right.”
I agree. It is not right that anyone should be put through this to get the mail “delivered” to us. I still don’t know if this man is fine, had a heart attack, or in some other way suffered health issues as a result of this incident. God forbid someone dies this winter because he/she tried to reach one of these boxes and was taken by surprise by the obstacles he/she had to face. All because it is more profitable for Canada Post not to deliver our mail to us any more.
And I don’t think the obligation should be on the city or province to provide clear access to these boxes. Canada Post stuck them wherever they wanted with no regard to the safety of those who must access them: with no regard to the fact that most Canadians face at least six months of winter each year, subject to slipping and falling from ice or snow or both, either from just walking or trying to climb over the obstacles between us and those boxes that are convenient only for Canada Post. Our health clearly doesn’t matter. But it should. Is Canada Post’s profit or convenience more important than our health and safety - more important than even one life?
Linda Webber of Charlottetown is a retired P.E.I. Supreme Court justice