Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Post Office Pens

When my sister told me she was having a bad day (which would then turn into a string of bad days, each bad day, hopefully, less bad than the day before it, but still bad nonetheless), I had to get her a cheer up present. Because who doesn't like getting presents when they are down in the dumps? Exactly. Along with the present, I made her a homemade card, partly because I found out she really likes it when I make her those and partly because making mini-collages from magazine cutouts is a part of my 13-year old self that never grew up.

Today I admired my work and even showed it to Nathalie who remarked that I've always been good at making homemade cards. Then I lost myself for a moment or two daydreaming about opening a card shop somewhere slightly hip, but quaint, in a town which would appreciate my mini-collage card art form. When I came back to reality, I walked over to the post office to mail my package.

If this had been a Saturday, it might have been less irritating to have to wait in line at the post office for 20 minutes just to mail a small, tiny, itty-bitty package, but when you're on your lunch hour and have places to go and things to do, every minute that ticks by can really start to get under your skin.

After about 25 minutes, I began studying the interactions at the counter to find out where the hold up was happening. I noticed that every customer was spending time filling out labels and forms. I looked down at my blank label and guessed that I, too, would have to be the jerk holding up the line by filling out my label at the counter where there might be an available pen.

When it was finally my turn, the lady behind the counter looked at my blank label and then at me.

"You're going to have to step out of line to fill that out," she informed me.

"What? Oh, but no," I said. Perhaps she thought I had forms upon forms to fill out like the people ahead of me had. But all I had was just one small address label, something I could fill out in the quickest of flashes, if only I just had a pen... "I just need to fill this out. Can you just weigh my package while I do that?"

"No, you have to be all ready to go," she said in a huff.

Resigned, I moved to the side, but not before asking to borrow a pen.

"I'm all out of pens," she said. Then, seeing as how I wasn't moving, she sighed and got up from her seat to find me one.

"But isn't that a pen?" I asked, pointing at the black ball point in front of me, just out of arms reach.

"Yes, but that's my pen," she said. And she was serious.


Breenuh said...

Hahahaha. There's nothing you can do in that situation but just (drop your jaw and then) laugh.

Tonia said...

Excellent news: American post offices exactly the same as English ones! They do feel like they occupy their on special place in space and time.

T said...

Sob, my post office in downtown now has automated machines for mailing packages- it's like the ATM of the post office. You don't have to talk to a single person or even need to search for a pen. ever. again.

Melissa said...

Love your point of view...will visit often.

Erin P said...

Great post! The irony, the frustration, the humor! I love it! (Too bad you don't work in an office where you can just ask the mail room to do that and give them the buck fifty later.)

Rachel said...

Wow! PO lady is a bee-yatch!

Deanna said...

When things like that happen to me, I just think to myself, when I go home at night I get to be me and when she goes home at night, she has to be a horrible person. That makes me feel better.

Sobrina Tung said...

Tonia, are English DMVs just as bad also?

Melissa, welcome! Thanks for reading :)

Deanna, that is a great way to think about it, I'm going to borrow that line of thought.

Thanks Erin P!

2busy said...

Honestly, I hate the post office. The people who work there are rude and really don't care...For that reason, I try to go to the little mom and pop postal anex's. They might be a little more expensive, but they treat you like a valued customer.

MunkyBt said...

The patrons at the post office can be just as rude. I once checked my P.O. Box only to find that I had 5 pieces of mail addressed to people who most likely used to have the same box as me, and that somehow I managed to leave my house without the collection of multicolored pens I keep in my purse at all times. Trust me when I say that this is almost unheard of. I always have a pen. ALWAYS. Sometimes I take them into the bathroom with me. It really is a sickness. I mean, who showers with their pens?! ~sigh~ But I digress...

The only other person in the post office at that time was a sour-looking old man who was covetously hunched over his precious pieces of mail. I sucked in a breath and walked over to him. The moment he realized I was approaching, he stiffened and started stuffing his mail into a shoulder bag he carried, while looked at me as though he expected me to mug him, or ask for change. I kindly explained I was without a pen, and asked if I could borrow one for just a minute. He gave me a ridiculously bitter look and said, "I'm in a hurry..."

"Please? It will just be a minute, I promise."

Begrudgingly, he handed me a pen from his old man purse, and then maintained a four foot distance from me while he huffed and exhaled dramatically, as if I were taking all day to write "No person at this address" on the five misplaced letters.

I hurried! I actually hurried for that old fart! Still, Ebenezer Scrooge couldn't helping huffing, "Thanks for taking up my time" when I handed him back his pen with a sincere "Thank you." In retrospect, I should have replace "Thank" with a more colorful word.

Great blog as usual, Sobrina! Sorry I haven't commented in a while. Lots of odd little changes happening around me lately (work, family stuff, holidays, yada yada yada...). If it's any consolation, I have silently been stalking your blog on my Blackberry during my lunch breaks. Those pictures you've posted of your family's cooking makes me seriously want to explore Asian cooking in a ravenous sort of way. Oh, and your friend is a genius! I am a hot chocolate connoisseur, and I am appalled that I have never thought of adding peppermint extract to hot chocolate, let alone whipped cream. I MUST try this.

I'll be stalking you,

MunkyBt said...

Holy. Crap. That was a ridiculously long comment! I'll try to cut it back next time. LOL.

Sobrina Tung said...

haha, I <3 your long comments!

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