In general, I avoid my local post office. First of all, when we built our house we didn’t have postal service for a few months while we waited for our community mailbox to be installed. Which meant that all of our mail was held at the post office. Which meant that we had to go at least a few times a week to pick it up. Which meant that there were several other people in the same boat. Which meant that there were always long lines. Which meant that I always left there feeling kind of homicidal.
Perhaps I was spoiled by my last local post office. It was charming and efficient all at once. I don’t remember standing in line for more than a few minutes. Ever.
But those days were over once I moved. The line at my post office is always long. Always. And it never moves. I have actually attended three impromptu birthday parties and one funeral in that line.
There was only one time I went to the post office and the line was short. Two customers were being helped at the two open registers and there was only one(!) person in line in front of me. I was there to mail my brother-in-law’s Christmas present in mid-December and when I walked in and saw the lack of crowd, I nearly declared it a Christmas miracle. As it turned out, I was in that line for over thirty minutes. More than a half-hour. Behind one person. Listening to one of the cashiers discuss with his customer how the boundaries of the postal offices had changed over the last couple of years. Fascinating. I thought I might slam my head in the letter drop to relieve my frustration.
So, today, when I went to the post office to mail off the anti-winter CD mixes, I had low expectations. I took three ibuprofen and an entire bottle of St. John’s Wort before I left. When I got there, I worked as quickly as I could to pack and address my small mountain of padded envelopes before I got in line. When I saw two old ladies enter the doors, I grabbed my unfinished pile and ran to the line to make sure I had a place before them. I didn’t have time to give them CPR or dialysis if I got stuck behind them for three weeks.
By the time I was done addressing and stuffing, I was called to an open register. So far, so gooooood!
I made small talk with the cashier as he printed postage for each of my packages.
“Photos in these?” he asked.
“CDs actually,” I said.
“CDs,” he said.
“Yep,” I said.
“CDs are almost extinct, aren’t they?”
“Yeah, probably not too long.”
“I can’t stand the way technology works today. Everything is outdated within a year or two. Pretty soon I won’t be able to watch my old black-and-white TV. Everything is digital and there won’t be anymore analog.”
I had no idea if this was true, but I nodded and said, “Yeah, it’s pretty crazy.”
“It’s like the government has a conspiracy. We’re all forced to go out and buy the newest TVs just to get reception. And those new TVs,” he said as he peered over his reading glasses at me, “I bet they have cameras in them.”
I gave a polite chuckle, just in case my postal worker friend was exhibiting his extremely dry sense of humor.
“I’m serious,” he said.
Of course he was.
He still had two envelopes to stamp, so I kept my cool and did my best to validate him. After all, if there’s anything I understand about postal employees, it’s this—keep them happy. I agreed that it was highly likely that there are cameras installed in all new TVs, that I’d heard it was true from several of the voices in my head and that I’d also read about it in the hidden code on the overhead menu at Wendy’s. (Sometimes living with a psychologist comes in SO handy. I speak pretty fluent paranoid schizophrenia.)
I walked out a few minutes later without incident, shaking my head at yet another local post office adventure. I mean, really! Hidden cameras in the TVs? Some people are so crazy!
I unlocked my door, checked under the car for any men with knives waiting to slice my ankles, got in, inspected the backseat for bombs, drove off, ran only two red lights to lose the car that was following me, and managed to show up right in time for my secret Sisters of the Protective Order meeting. I ran inside to avoid being noticed by the suspicious old woman across the street and to tell everybody about the crazy guy at the post office. I knew the gals would love that story!