Monday, February 9, 2015

Going Postal

If you know me at all, you know I suck at putting things in the mail.

Say, for example, I need to send a niece or nephew or other beloved child in my life a card. I consider it a success if that card gets to them within a four-week window of the actual date of whatever event they’re celebrating. If there's a package and trip to the post office involved, I need a 6 week window minimum.

And that's with children. With adults, who are better emotionally equipped to deal with disappointment, all bets are off.

My friend Martha's birthday is in the beginning of October and I finally gave up on ever sending her her present; I just gave it to her when I saw her over Christmas.

So when I made it to the post office on January 16th with the Christmas package for my friend Eric's children, I considered it a screaming success.

At first.

Here's what happened

I took the Christmas package and another package containing a return to the post office in the early afternoon, thinking this would be a less crowded time. Unfortunately there were approximately 7462 people in line ahead of me.

Which was odd since there’s only about 17,000 people in this entire town.

But I knew if I left I wouldn’t make it back to the post office for at least another month so I gritted my teeth and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

I got to the counter and put the return up first because it was ridiculously heavy. Once they got that weighed and in the bin, the problems started.

“Ma'am, we can't mail this,” the clerk said, pushing the Christmas package back to me.

To be honest,  at first I was a little more focused on the fact that he “ma’am-ed” me. Ma’am? Who is the joker calling ma’am? He’s got to be 10 years older than me! When I got past that insult, I just assumed he was practicing some form of subtle postal humor and smiled in that ‘I don’t get the joke but am willing to pretend that’s funny’ sort of way and pushed the package back toward him.

“It’s just going to St. Louis,” I said.

“Ma’am, that’s a wine box,” he said.

“There’s not wine in it,” I assured him.  “You can even open it up and check.”

“But it says wine all over the box,” he countered. “We can’t do it.”

“Is there any chance you’re making this up just to irritate me?”  I asked.

And he gave me that same 'I don’t get the joke but am willing to pretend that’s funny smile.' Touche, postal clerk, touche.

“No ma’am,” he said.  “They won’t accept it.”

Ever vigilant to the changing nuances of the English language, I couldn’t help but notice he had switched from “we can’t” to “they won’t.” As if he was somehow distancing himself from the nefarious power structure of the postal service.

“Here’s the thing,” I told him. “From my perspective, you are they. So, if you take it they will have taken it and I bet the rest of them assume that they have somehow given approval for it. And then everyone’s happy.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” he assured me.

And then I pulled out the big guns. “Sir,” I said. “Would it help at all if I told you these are Christmas presents?” And then before he could interrupt, “That’s right. Christmas presents.  For children. Children who already think I suck because Christmas was 3 weeks ago. If I have to schlep this all the way home, and wait until we somehow have a box that didn’t previously contain alcohol, repackage them and bring it all the way back here, those poor children might not get their presents until Easter! Wouldn’t the kindlier response be to just write NOT WINE all over this box and let those children have a tiny bit of joy?”

He was, I’m sad to report, completely unimpressed.

“Ma’am,” he said somewhat firmly. “I really need to help the next person in line.”

It is interesting to note that these kind of situations are the exact reason we have so many empty wine boxes at our house.

So, to summarize, I suck at putting things in the mail, I’m great at drinking wine, and Eric’s kids got their Christmas presents at the end of January…which, considering my 6 week window, is right on time.

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