Sunday, August 29, 2010
I Lost It at the Post Office
My people have longstanding issues with The United States Post Office (USPS). It started many, many years ago when my mother got tagged to mail care packages to the relatives in post-WWII Germany. Mom is the oldest child of German immigrants. With a name like "Gerda" you think she may have experienced a bit more prejudice during the World War II years than she did. After all, the public schools had stopped teaching German. But the little town Mom lived in was mostly German and Italian, so I suppose nobody pointed fingers at anybody out of fear that pretty so that finger would be pointed in their direction. Mom was pretty oblivious to any anti-German sentiment directed her way and for years did not quite understand WHY the people at the USPS were SO mean to her. The people who worked at the post office must have had some pretty hard feelings about Germans and the whole WWII thing, because they were downright nasty to my mother. No one had the honesty to ever directly confront Mom. The postal employees managed to harass her thoroughly. No matter how the package had been prepared for shipment, it was wrong: It needed to be wrapped in plain brown paper, no paper, with string, no string, tape, no tape, and so on and so forth. The rules and regulations changed on a weekly basis, and Mom had to drag the packages back and forth between her parents and the post office, trying helplessly to please them both. In Mom's youthful innocence and inexperience, she didn't realize WHY they were giving her so much grief. Poor Mom. To this day she has serious issues with the USPS.
I never quite understood my mother's fear of the post office. I don't deal well with the institutionalized sameness of anything very well and if I had to spend more than a week working at a post office, I'd probably be dragged off to the booby hatch. My feelings for the post office have always been fairly indifferent. Until now. I ordered a vintage style circus lion skeleton (What? You don't have one???) for Halloween. First the company sent me the wrong thing, then the one the company sent me the correct item but it was damaged. I taped the damaged item's package and carted it over to the USPS.
I should have suspected something when there was no one standing in line, but instead I thought it was my lucky day. Until I realized who was waiting on me. Surly doesn't begin to describe this woman, whom I shall refer to as "Fried Blonde" because this is pretty much what her hair looked like. (Although I think the name "Disgruntled Postal Employee" may have been on her name badge.) Fried Blonde appeared to be losing a battle with a packing tape gun and seemed disturbed that her manicure had been damaged by the tape. (I can't grow a fingernail to save my life, but it has always fascinated me when women with really bad hair have perfectly manicured nails. What is up with that???) She eyeballed my box.
"I can't accept that."
"Are you kidding me?" I asked. I could sense her wrecked manicure was quickly becoming my problem.
"This." she said, like I was an idiot for even imagining the post office might take my box staring at what was about a one-and-a-half inch tear in a large box. She then took her index claw and proceeded to flick the damaged portion of the box, which threatened to tear it further. Flick, flick, flick.
"That is stupid." I said. Needless to say you should never say this phrase to a Federal employee. What in the hell was a thinking? I am a military spouse -- I should know WAY better than this -- I've had to deal with a bureaucrat or two in my day.
Flick, flick, flick she pawed my box again with her flicker finger. Her face bore a look of utter disgust that said nothing short of: "Turd in a punch bowl."
"Could you tape it for me?" I asked.
"Nope." she said, while ironically mangling a wad of spent packing tape. "We are not allowed to do that." She tensed up and pursed her lips at me.
"Are you kidding me?" I asked, sarcastically. (Actually you can pretty much presume that anything I say is said with a sarcastic tone of voice. It's a curse.)
"Nope." she said.
"What you mean to tell me is that I am going to have to go out into the heat, drive home, re tape this stupid thing, get back into line for a little tear? Are you crazy? What is in the box is BROKEN!" Then Fried Blonde noticed I was staring at her role of packing tape. She picked it up off the counter and put it behind her back, as if I was going to snag it off the counter and run off with it.
"That's only for Priority customers." she said.
Well, before I could grab a couple beers and pop an escape chute the following issued from my mouth:
"You fucking bitch." It was wrong. I should have taken the high road and maintained my cool, but it just flew out of my mouth. I think maybe it is because my husband is deployed, and I'm under a lot of stress, but I just snapped. AND: My people have longstanding issues with the USPS. I left and shipped it from another post office. No problem. (Maybe they couldn't tell I was German...)
I called Mom later that night. Although she would have preferred I used different language, she understood. The bitch had it coming.