The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Friday, February 16, 2007

It's Not Just the Employees Who Go Postal

There is a mysterious bell that everyone in the Seattle area can hear but me, and it rings when I want to go to the Post Office so that everyone else will know to gather up everything in the house that is not nailed down, wrap those items for mailing to wherever (I suspect that someone in Namibia is even now opening a package of dryer lint with a puzzled expression), poke their children to make them cranky, and run to the Post Office to stand in line ahead of me. Either that, or Christmas is always a week away around these parts and, since I don't see any tinsel, I'm thinking it must be the former. I also suspect that these people get points or reward bonuses or something for any extra things they can think of to do that will make the visit more enjoyable.

Perfume that would peel paint off the walls? Check.

Have a loud, should-have-been-private conversation on the cell phone approximately 6 inches from my elbow? Check (But be sure to let me know what that strange skin thing in your husband's "private area" turns out to I'm curious.)

Pay for $40 worth of postal services with pennies you dug out from the couch cushions? Check.

Realize at the front of the line that you do not actually remember the address of the person you're sending the dryer lint or marshmallow cream or whatever to? "Hang's right here...oh, I know it...!" Check.

Smile benevolently while your child swings from the rope defining the waiting area like a snot glazed tree monkey, shrieking and smacking my leg at the apex of each swing? Check.

Note: I actually really love children, and I can only imagine how challenging it is to try to get everything done with small ones in tow...but seriously. This woman made one feeble attempt at "Billy, stop." while not actually looking at him (or, unfortunately, wiping his nose) and then turned away to check her fingernail polish and leave him to his leg whacking in peace. I think the bar for managing your child's behavior in public can be set a trifle higher than that.

Carry one small item up to the counter to mail and then somehow magically produce what seems to be the entire contents of Santa's sleigh from one tiny purse while saying cheerfully "Oh, and these, too."? Check.

Get nearly to the front of the line before turning to the gentleman behind you to smile and say "Oh, can you just hold my spot while I go grab something from my car?" and the car is apparently parked in Mongolia? Check.

The Post Office employees always do their part as well. For instance, I think it takes a special kind of genius to wait until the exact moment that it would be my turn to wander off aimlessly and not return for several moments. I'm sure it's only paranoia that makes me picture these employees huddled behind the backroom door hissing to one another "No, wait! You can't go back out there yet..she's still here!" They also apparently have some focusing issues as evidenced by this exchange:

Me: Hi, I'd like to mail this to Ireland. There's nothing breakable or perishable or hazardous in it.
Employee: Okay, is there anything breakable in it?
Employee: How about perishable? Is there anything perishable in it?
Employee: Is there anything that could be hazardous in it?
Me: (whimpering quietly to self.)

It continues later when I attempt to pay with a debit card by handing it over and saying brightly: "Here you are. It's debit.", only to be asked immediately "Okay, is this debit or credit?"

Why, yes. Yes it is.

Still, I can't blame them. I think if they didn't tune out at least some of the shrieking and crying and screaming (I only cried and screamed a little, quit looking at me like that) at least some of the time, the whole "going postal" thing would be much more common. You know, like a coffe break.

"Hey, you taking break now?"
"Yeah, it's my turn to go completely nuts and threaten to blow the place up."
"Okay, great. See you in ten."

The nice thing is that now the once-arduous task of finishing my Jaywalker sock (Hi, my name is Flo and I have Second Sock Syndrome) is looking pretty darned good.


  • At 2:33 PM, Anonymous MonicaPDX said…

    ::whimper:: It's-- Oh gawd-- Namibia! Best! Ever! ::snerflesnork:: Skin thing... (I had to type that three times) Hold spot?! ::indicates total incredulity:: Breakable - Perishable - Hazardous!!! Focusing issue! ROFLMAOWTIME!!!

    (Pardon me. I have to go expire now. And I shall not go gentle into that good night, but I really doubt Dylan intended that one should go ungently while yelping to high heaven with hysterical laughter!

  • At 2:33 PM, Blogger Marianne said…

    I know the bell you speak of...I do.
    Jeezelouise, they're the same everywhere, aren't they...although I can drive 10 miles, (maybe more) to a smaller township and post things off, they're never very busy and they don't seem to mind my particular idiocy when trying to post something across the I drive the extra miles. so. worth. it.

  • At 3:35 PM, Anonymous marti said…

    and i wonder why i have this post office phobia. glad to see that it doesn't just affect me. i expect to see a pair of jaywalkers finished on monday!

  • At 4:19 PM, Blogger Peg said…

    That's funny, Ms. K, but we have all had similar line-up experiences!
    Thanks for visiting my blog and keep up your writing, as I always know it will be fun and inspiring when I visit Ms. K!

  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger Robin said…

    Yep...going postal is about the customer NOT the employees...what do they have to go postal about? We're the ones putting up with all the CRAP on this side of the counter...they get to take breaks, peek through the cubby-holes and laugh at US!
    You are TOO funny...but I remembered to put my diaper on this I need to go change it!

  • At 4:31 PM, Blogger Dianne said…

    Ms. K..we must be described my local post office perfectly! Happy Knitting on Sock 2!!

  • At 12:02 AM, Anonymous angie Cox said…

    Don't worry Florence we have that bell in Reading do not tell me this shoudn't be in a book..a regular Bill Bryson you are. I have no idea what it would be called but here you have summed up Post-Offices perfectly !

  • At 3:10 AM, Anonymous Holly B.Cox said…

    Gosh Post Offices in Reading (UK) are just like that too. But we seem to have all the snotty kids in England pop up at once as do all the dotty absent minded pensioners.( I don't know about America but here you pick up Pension money at the post office.)And the staff. This has to be one of the best posts

  • At 8:58 AM, Blogger Jo said…

    I have exactly the same problem with the post office here!

  • At 9:46 AM, Anonymous kali said…

    How amusing you make it all sound! I am blessed with a postal clerk in the next town over that I prefer to use over the closer stations because I swear this man is on happy juice 24/7. He is unfailingly polite, cheery (but not too perky), with humorous tid bits for regular customers and being the way he is, EVERYONE is a "regular."

    His "show" goes a long way in combatting the line that snakes out the door, with the person trying to mail a box larger than USPS regulations allow, with her small dog in tow, the tired babies, the gumsmacking mommas, the truckers with their money orders and return reciepts...and...

    Actually, I try not to mail much of anything if I can help it, funny man behind the counter notwithstanding (I want the etymology of that word!)


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