Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Going Postal

So there I was in the post office yesterday. Yes, December is a challenging time to go, but it was necessary. I should say up front that the postal workers at my post office are uncharacteristically nice and helpful. This seems to be an aberration in the profession based on my experience in other postal facilities, but I am thankful that this aberration occurred in my ZIP Code. I have often wondered about the theory posited in the movie Men in Black II, which claimed that many postal workers are actually alien beings living on earth disguised as humans. But I digress.

I waited on line to mail some gifts and procure stamps for holiday cards. A fellow customer had been assiduously filling out forms for international shipping and learned as she approached the counter that she had done so incorrectly. The clerk was helpful and kind; she explained the proper procedure, and advised the woman to redo it, and upon completion to return to the counter, not wait in the now serpentine line again. To say the customer was a sourpuss is an understatement along the lines of "Krakatoa was a minor rumble". She grumbled to the clerk, shot daggers at those of us on line, and generally exuded aggressive misery.

Abruptly, she turned toward those of us waiting and snapped, "Who smoked a cigar? It is totally rancid. You should go outside right now." Naturally, no one admitted it (though she did have a point, cigar smoke does linger unpleasantly--but she certainly wasn't going to get anywhere with her approach.) When those of us receiving her wrath shifted uncomfortably, she said, "No one will admit it." Attempting to lighten things up, I said, "Well, under the circumstances, who would?". It became even clearer at that moment that she and I would never be good friends. She continued her not quite sotto voce rant on the foulness of the odor clinging to one of us, and finally finished her transaction.

What is a Grace to do?

Well, you know how I feel about scenes--chew the tongue off first. My attempt to break the ice, which was a reasonable option were we dealing with a slightly reasonable person, failed. At that point, the best choice is silence, peppered with vigilance; you never know when a nut like that might just "Go Postal."

Finally, the Anti-Tobacco League left, and a man (normally I would say "gentleman", but you'll soon see that the label doesn't fit) approached me and began picking at my coat. It was made of down, and sometimes the filling escapes. I looked at him oddly, as he mumbled (it was a big day for mumblers at the local PO) "what have you got here?" "my, my, my, you're losing something," and the like. I glanced quizzically at the postal clerk, with whom I am friendly, and she gestured for me to move away. When I got up to her station, she whispered, "He's a total pervert. He always comes in here and looks for excuses to touch people. One of these days he's gonna get socked!"

I exited stage right with all possible dispatch and planned to have my remaining gifts sent via online orders.

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