Q: When did you first start working at Mail Boxes, Etc?
A: It was my first real job after one year of college. My mom said she’d gone by the store and they seemed nice and were hiring. I went in and met the owner, and she sent in the manager. The manager didn’t know what to talk to me about, but I think she was thinking, “You’re normal; you’ll be fine.” They got a lot of weirdo applicants there.
Q: So you started working there in the summertime?
A: I started there in the beginning of June. I was working there for two weeks, wearing my little polo shirts, you know, mail, copy, fax. And one day the owner came up to me and said, “I forgot to tell you — part of your job is to be Zippy for our grand opening.”
A: Zippy the Mailbox.
Q: And they hadn’t mentioned this to you when they hired you?
A: No, they acted like it was just part of the job description they’d forgot to tell me about. They had just moved to a new location and they were having a grand opening. Special 2-cent copies, stuff like that.
Q: Were other people working there? Maybe one of them might’ve dressed up like Zippy?
A: None of them wanted to do it. I mean, duh.
Q: How did you react when they told you that you were going to be Zippy?
A: I said, “What’s that?” And they said, “There’s this mailbox costume. You’re going to wear it and wave at cars. It’s part of why we hired you.” I was supposed to stand at the main thoroughfare — on the sidewalk — and wave at cars. This was one of the busiest intersections in town. The potential for embarrassment was high.
Q: What was the outfit like?
A: It was a corporate costume that you scheduled to come to your location. Zippy came in the mail. It was shaped like a mailbox, covered with plush orange and blue fur. It had armholes, and big white plastic mesh eyes with big blue pipe cleaner eyelashes. The front had a flap that opened with velcro. The front flap was supposed to be where the mail went in, like on a real mail box.
The inside had straps to hold it up since it was taller than you. The whole contraption came down to my knees.
The most horrible part was that underneath I had to wear a red leotard.
Q: Why is that so horrible?
A: After age 8 you don’t want to wear a leotard! I had big plastic hands — like Mickey Mouse gloves, and I wore little black shoes. It was 90 degrees, the hottest degrees of summer. My boyfriend was in from out of town and I didn’t tell him or anyone. I didn’t want them to know that it was me.
Q: So you would get dressed in the store and then go out to the street?
A: I would come out in the leotard and owner’s husband Dave would put the box over me. Then someone had to lead me out to the corner. I had to cross the strip-mall parking lot to get to the road. In an hour they would come and get me.
Q: Did people wave to you?
A: The people who wave back — it’s not who you would expect. I do remember one stately black guy who was driving a pimped-out BMW. He had the music going and gave me the “’Sup” guy nod. Like “How YOU doin.’”
Q: Did anyone find out that it was you?
A: My mom knew. She worked across the street and she came and took a picture. It was on her fridge for a long time but then she took it down and I was kind of hurt. You know, like where’s the picture? It makes for a good story when people see that picture.
Q: How long did you end up working at Mailboxes, Etc.?
A: About 3 years!
Q: In general, did you like the job?
A: It was mostly good… I talked to a lot of people throughout the day and had a collection of regular customers that were running small businesses and came in a lot.
Christmas was fun — it was super busy all day packing boxes and shipping things.
In the summer, it was pretty quiet, so it depended on who you were working with as to how enjoyable the day was.
Q: Would you ever dress like Zippy again, say, for a million dollars?
A: I think I’d do it again. If I did it for $4.25, I’d do it for a million. Heck yeah.