Excerpt from “Valley 101: A Slightly Skewed Guide to Living in Arizona,” a collection of Clay Thompson’s columns for The Arizona Republic. (Originally published December 10, 2000.)
Q: We recently moved here from Pittsburgh, and we have an extremely important question about Sun City West: Why do residents put stones on their mailboxes?
A: We have heard of stones on roofs and stones on lawns, but we have to admit that stones on mailboxes was a new one to us. Of course, here at Valley 101, almost anything is a new one to us.
We considered examining this phenomenon firsthand, but the Valley 101 mobile research lab was in the shop, so we set hand to telephone and called the Sun CityWest Visitors and Information Center, reasoning that we were, in a sense, visiting and in need of some information.
This is why, according to Ms. Johns, people in Sun CityWest put rocks on their mailboxes:
“To keep the birds off.”
Apparently, the theory is that if you create an uneven surface on your mailbox, it keeps birds from landing there and pooping thereupon. And there is general agreement, at least in Sun City West, that birds pooping on your mailbox is not a good thing. Ms. Johns herself does not have rocks on her mailbox, but she did volunteer that she carries a rubber snake with her whenever she plays golf.
Why, you may well ask, does Ms. Johns carry a rubber snake with her when she plays golf?
For the same reason that people put rocks on their mailboxes.
When she gets out of her golf cart to take another whack, she leaves the rubber snake on the seat to keep birds from landing there and pooping thereupon, which could give all newmeaning to the golfing term “birdie.”