Hate is a strong word; I hate going to the post office. I especially hate the experience, when the only reason I am there is to pick up a package that was supposed to be delivered to my threshold. And I extra super duper hate it (with two scoops of frostbitten ice cream covered in coagulated chocolate fudge with a rancid cherry on top), when it happens often. My postal office is a repeat offender.
When FF brought the mail in on Friday, I was surprised to see him holding a “Sorry we missed you!” notice from the postal service. How could they be sorry, they hadn’t even tried? How could they have missed me when I was right there? Knowing that a package was being delivered that day, I had intentionally stayed home.
So what they really meant wasn’t “Sorry we missed you,” but, rather, “Sorry one of our postal employees is willing to come to your building, but not to your apartment.” Was there a time in this world when, even if people didn’t particularly like their job, they would still do it—to completion? I hate when someone makes more work for me by not doing the job they’re paid to do.
So, when FF came in with that “missed you,” notice, I was annoyed. This was something my post office had done before—“missed” me when I was right there in plain sight—if you were looking. But I swallowed my aggravation, and made a plan to visit the post office the following day. I arrived at the post office about thirty minutes before they were scheduled to close. I stood on a line long enough to be inconvenient, but not so long as to throw me into an internal temper tantrum. I received my package, and walked home happy to be outside on a cool but sunny day in autumn.
Now what do you think was waiting in my mailbox when I got home? Another (insincere) “Sorry we missed you” notice! Profanities reached the very tip-most tip of my tongue before I swallowed them back down. I couldn’t even go right back out, the post office was closed by now. I’d have to wait until Monday. (Curses!) They had done it again—two days in a row! (Curses to a higher level!) My rant was full-blown now.
Which brings me to today. Today is the Monday I had to wait for. First, I stopped at the market. I bought blackberries, clementines, grapes, green beans, and salmon. I think it more than possible that among one of Murphy’s Laws is a clause explaining the conservation of time spent in lines. That is to say, you will spend a good deal of your life waiting in lines of one sort or another—even virtual ones. Should you find for yourself a joyfully short line on any given day, an abominably long one lies in wait. So after being second on line at the market, I found myself faced with a monstrosity at the post office. It was most disheartening to note that despite the twenty or thirty-odd people on line (each clearly carrying packages and questions that would require at least five or ten minutes of attention at the window), only two clerks were working at the time.
I knew what this meant. I took out my book and tried to ignore the children playing a combination of tag and hide-and-go-seek-then-scream. My silent temper tantrum was brewing. I was already cranky: having recently come off of an over-crowded train on which I was the captive audience to the banal conversation of the two teenagers standing obtrusively next to me. I hated this line. The bags in my hands were starting to feel heavy. I hated the loud kids who kept bumping into me. My stomach was grumbling, and I was too annoyed to focus on my book. I hated this line. And I hated that the only reason I was there (losing precious moments of my life to a tedious task), was because a postal worker had decided to skirt some of his or her responsibilities!
And then it happened. I became acutely aware (as some of my line-mates had probably become already) of what was in my grocery bags. There’s nothing quite like standing in an insufferably long line at the well-heated post office, starting to sweat under all your wintry layers, holding the heavy bags from your trip to the market, and remembering that one of the things you just bought was fish.