Good mail. It's so rare these days.
Think about it. Except for December, when the holiday cards come, how often throughout the year do you ever pull something out of your mailbox and say, "Wow, what a nice surprise! I wasn't expecting that."
Few people write letters anymore. Today's mailboxes usually are stuffed with bills, advertisements and attempts to make you sign up for another credit card you don't need.
So when I looked in my work mailbox during early August and found two letters in a heavy envelope from former Panthers kicker John Kasay, I was shocked. He had dropped the envelope off at the Observer a few days after the Panthers had made a stunning move - firing Kasay, the last player remaining from the original 1995 team, and hiring replacement Olindo Mare. It was several days before I found it, as I was out of the office most of that week on assignment.
The longer letter was to Panthers fans. The shorter one was to me, asking me to publicly deliver the lengthier one so Kasay could "accurately share how I felt about what happened," as he put it.
The longer letter was 257 words - a "take-the-high-road" display of Kasay's class. We published the full text in the Observer and at CharlotteObserver.com, and it became one of our most-read sports stories of the year.
"I wanted to personally write this letter to every Carolina Panther fan," Kasay's letter began. "Words cannot express how truly thankful my family and I are for the most wonderful 16 years of our lives. We came to the Panthers as a young family with a 3-month-old baby. We leave with 4 children, 2 of whom are in high school. In between, you have loved and cheered and blessed us way more than we ever deserved."
In the letter, Kasay showed no bitterness about his abrupt departure from Carolina. Kasay was basically fired because the Panthers thought employing Mare would save a roster spot since he could kick off and kick field goals, too - Kasay had been limited to field goals for several years.
Kasay, 42, would end up joining a better team this season - New Orleans - where he has had another very good year and is headed to the playoffs. Mare has had an inconsistent season marred by two critical fourth-quarter field goal misses at home.
But no one knew any of that then. All Kasay knew for sure was that he had been let go.
I was honored Kasay entrusted me with his letter to the fans. We had had a good working relationship for 17 years, since I joined the Observer not long before he joined the Panthers. But this still was the rare mailbox surprise that turned into a memorable story.
More than that, though, I remain so impressed with the way Kasay handled his departure.
Most of us get fired or cut from something - whether a job or a middle-school basketball team - at some point in our lives.
How many of us are able to react that gracefully to it?