How to Live Your Life Without Pissing Me Off - The Post Office

Here's something that may be the most amazingly stupid thing I can think of. Out of all the possibilities on earth for being stuck in a slow line, who'd have ever thought for even a moment that one of them might be the drive-through boxes at the post office. Let's review just what is entailed with the use of these terribly complicated facilities.

You drive up to the box. Now, my first mistake was assuming that if you've made it up next to the box, you've already accomplished the toughest part of this assignment. I was wrong. But let's keep going.

The second step is that you roll down your window. If you'll notice how incredibly reasonable I am, I have chosen not to even point out that even a semi-efficient person would have the window down by the time he or she arrived at the box in the first place. I'm allowing for inclement weather here. Or perhaps a lifelong fear that a large bug, or perhaps a moose or elk, may enter your vehicle if the window is opened too early. So, I'm spotting you step two.

One note here is that there seems to be a rather large number of folks who prefer to open the door at a drive-up facility instead of lowering the window. Sure, it's possible that some of them have a broken window mechanism, but overall, I ain't buying it. That leaves the idea that while they consider themselves capable of hurtling down the freeway at 75 or 80 miles per hour, the crank or, God forbid, the button, presents a task better left untried.

Okay, window is down, or door is opened, here's step three: drop your mail into the box.

This is one of those things that might bear repeating: drop your mail into the box.

This is not the time to put stamps on your letters. Not the time to hand write the return address. Nor is it the time to put the checks into your bill envelopes or fill out the message on the postcard. That should have been done before you left your freakin' house!

Do you get me? Have your stuff ready to go when you get to the box. Then, drop it in. Most of life is not rocket science, but this could be the part that is literally the farthest away. I've seen one year olds accomplish this task while their parent holds them out the window. My dog can pick something up in her mouth and then drop it when I tell her to. So why the hell can't you put your damn mail in the box?

Oh yeah, there is one more part. And this applies to the post office as well as the bank and any number of other drive-up locations. When you're done, get out of the way. At no time should your brain ever have a thought remotely similar to "Congratulations. I've finished my task here at the drive-through. I think I'll celebrate by putting on chapstick which I will now dig from the recesses of my car seat. Or perhaps this is a good time to apply mascara."

Drive away!

Now, let me be the first to point out that the trouble at post offices is not confined to the boxes outside, by any means. There's a whole litany of crap going on inside, too. If there was no frustration in the building then the world might have a phrase like "going plumber". But they don't, do they? No. It's postal. The only part I can't figure out is why the employees are shooting each other. Unless it's out of kindness. Just to put their co-workers out of the misery of dealing with the public. That I'd buy.

As I say often, I'm not perfect. There are lots of times that I forget to bring a pen with me when I need one. And Heaven knows that the ones that are supposed to be chained up in these joints have long since vanished. No doubt to plumb some itchy orifice on a guy who smells almost identical to the one standing in front of and probably behind you in the post office line right now. In which case, good riddance.

Depending on how much abuse I'm in the mood for, I sometimes ask to borrow a pen from someone. Usually someone who has had the pen out in plain view or has one sticking out of a shirt pocket.

"Excuse me. May I borrow your pen for just a second?" I say.

Without exception, they stare back at me as if I just asked to take their rectal temperature.

Once, at the driver's license place, a woman loaned me a pen since the gross of little chains on the tall tables were all dangling empty. I wrote the, I kid you not, two words that were required on the form that I had to step from the line to fill out. I then held the pen out to the nice lady. Her eyes narrowed. Her lips pursed with suspicion. Reluctantly she reached for it. Slowly miming the act of putting it back into her purse. Then she dropped it on the table and walked away. It now lives with some Guatemalan welder.

These aren't Mont Blancs we're talking about here, either. They're usually a Bic that has had most of the cap chewed off. If anyone ought to be leary of this situation, it's me. No telling what that crusty stuff is. But I'm willing to take the chance that I'll live long enough to make it to the bathroom and wash up before the deadly microbes do their nasty work.

Perhaps it is my uncanny resemblance to Michael Johnson that makes them think I'll snatch their 39 cent writing utensil and bolt for the exit. That the twenty minute wait in line was only a clever ruse. All along, I was only after their pen. Yes, I'm sure that's it.

There is an indoor equivalent of the outside box thing. It's those people (sorry, but almost always older women in this case) who wait until they are at the postal clerk's window before they seal the package they are sending. Oh, they have the box. Chances are decent that they even have tape back at the house. But if they sealed the thing, then they'd simply have to pay for postage and be on their way.

Naturally that would eliminate the chance to pull it out and explain that the book was sent in error by this book club they had joined that turned out to be not quite as good a deal as they initially thought even though the prices are waaay cheaper than most of the ones in the bookstore except when they put the things in the bookstore on the sale tables which happened a week or two ago with this book that she had juuuust bought for her aunt who likes to read mysteries but not the kind where….GET OUT OF MY WAY!

Or how 'bout this one? More than once, I'm sad to say, I've seen a woman get an opinion from the post office worker on an outfit for her nephew or grandchild. That's right. While I'm waiting in line, having my leg hair plucked by some four year old hellion whose mother apparently forgot that she ever had children, this genius at the window is holding up toddler's clothes to see what the clerk thinks.

Lady, I got news for you. Your fashion guru owns twenty-six outfits, all of which are blue-grey and have a freaking eagle's profile on them. Ask me. I'll tell you, "That's nice. Put it in the box." See how easy that was? And don't you feel self-assured?

Note: I hate to make those "men do this, women do this" generalizations because Lord only knows I have an irrational fear of ending up in a bogus one-man show and hearing the phrase "You and Spalding Gray are my two favorites". However, there are some things that just happen to fall into line as being far from gender neutral. And I'm always glad to insult either side.

So before we lose sight of the post office issue…the big lesson here is the same one that applies in many other locales. Do your business and move along. If the postal employee is your best friend, then grab a forty-ounce and hang out with them behind the convenience store like everyone else.