Tuesday, May 8, 2007

My DAY at the post office

GWCP: Guy With Cleft Palate
CBCBA: Cross Between Carol Brady and Alice
GWNS: Guy Who Needed a Shower
CGFL: Cute Guy at the Front of the Line

The heat was miserable today. Rush hour was the chosen time for my trip to the post office because clearly I must subject myself the highest possible degree of anguish. This is what Maslow would call self actualization. Having been borne without the patience gene, I was haggard and parched from griping loudly at the other drivers. I sardined my also-grumpy car in the sunniest and also only parking space and reluctantly made my way towards what was an unlikely oasis. I walked past an old guy stepping out of his car, who turned out to be GWCP. I regarded him only long enough to say, "Excuse me," as I jogged around him, wondering why old people drive such big cars that they simply cannot park.

I vowed straightaway that I will NOT have kids until I am wildly rich. There is no way I'll be stuck here during the summer when I get old.

The post office is just like every other post office built in the seventies: bad ventilation, crowded with people and huge cardboard sales promotions bottlenecking the line. The unfortunate patrons turned to eyeball me savagely for opening the door and subjecting them to a fresh wave of perspiration. As I carved myself a place large enough to allow the door to close, I bravely tried to wipe the pout off my face.

Again the door opened, and the line moved just enough for it to close again. I pointedly ignored whoever was behind me as everyone else again turned to make him suffer. This time, though, the looks were longer and I suspected that some were lingering to give me another nasty look. I glared back acidly.

Like the shift-change scenes from Metropolis, we shuffled every couple minutes. No sounds could be heard except the opening and closing of the door and frustrated sighs of those who were at the front.

"Is this line long enough? heh heh heh," the guy behind me said. I turned around and politely responded, "Yes, it's quite long enough." I noticed that not only was he the old guy I passed on my way in, he had a cleft palate. Being in a much less acrimonious mood, I had given him one of my sweetest smiles. He smiled back, and I decided that I admired this gentleman indeed for having more confidence than any one of the fifty others in the room, to speak up in the name of pleasantry.

I mentioned that we had all chosen a fabulous time to do business, and added that it was even more crowded two hours ago when there weren't even parking spaces available. "Jimminy," he said.

GWCP: They must have run out of numbers.

A lady ahead faced us. She was dressed like Carol Brady except she had thick glasses, the Greatest American Hero's hair and Alice's body. "They stopped doing numbers. It's been PROVEN that it's faster without them." For this, she received nods of approval from myself and GWCP.

The guy in front of me piped up, saying, "Oh, it doesn't matter. The post office employees all sit in back and drink coffee, they don't care how long we have to wait." He was about the same age as GWCP and CBCBA. He badly needed a hair cut and a shower. He had a crabby look on his face. I realized that he had inched back towards me as he made his point, and I gave him one of my sour you-make-me-gag looks.

CBCBA: Yes it does matter. When everybody stands in line, it moves quickly but when they have to call numbers it takes time for people to hear their number and walk up to the counter.

I decided that I'd finally encountered in CBCA the embodiment of the Reader's Digest's paying customer. She fascinated me. She was sporting a green polyester collared shirt, a Three's Company (authentic, not retro-hip) denim wraparound skirt, and blue Keds. Her eyes looked unnaturally large behind her thick glasses. She also examined GWNS disapprovingly.

GWNS: Waaaaaill, all I'm sayin' is that they don't care and we'd still be waiting too long because all the workers here are lazy. And now they're even raising the price of postage.

The "workers" rewarded him with extra-loud and extra-syrupy "how are you doings" and "would you like some stamps todays" to their current charges.

I rolled my eyes and GWCP cleared his throat. Nobody spoke. I put my legal sized envelope to my nose, preferring the scent of yellow-orange paper and Sharpie to GWNS BO. I lost myself in thought for a few seconds, staring blankly at the dirty but shiny floor and picturing what GWCP's childhood and young adulthood must have been like. I wondered why he never got it fixed. Surely he could if he wanted. He drove what seemed to be a newer car, dressed no worse than GWNS or CBCBA. I felt guilty that I've always entertained myself with how wonderful life would be if I got a nose job or boob job.

Not only that, he was the only friendly person in the whole damn building- but I know for a fact that if I had to live with what he lives with, I'd be a fucking bitch to everybody all the time.

I blinked, snapping out of my trance, and my eyes locked with a guy about my age who was next in line for service. He was just my type, if I have one. Not very tall, normal build, dark hair, and a neighborly face.

"NEXT" yelled the worker.

We all shuffled forward and checked the clock.

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