patience at the post office

“I’d like to thank you all for braving the conditions out there,” was the refrain from my local postmaster, the week before the holidays. Snow plus freezing temperatures had made sidewalks especially treacherous, and he wanted to let us know he appreciated our business. I love my post office workers, from this guy, who chats me up about Boca, to the curmudgeonly woman at lunchtime who impatiently waits as I fill out a certified mail slip. Maybe they’re all a little too tolerant, however — how else to explain the idiotic behavior I repeatedly see as I wait in line for the next available teller?

We all receive things in the mail; by age 20 we know what appropriate packing is and isn’t, and yet I still see people at the post office with half-wrapped parcels, incorrectly addressed labels, etc. Do they assume their friendly postmaster will help them the rest of the way? It’s true that my packages might be given an extra line of tape here and there, but I’ve always seen that as a love tap from my mail person; it’s their way of putting their own special seal of approval to my already stellar packing job.

I assume even they are annoyed by the woman reusing a plastic mailbag, taped closed like a trash bag on one bunched-up end, with no address written on it. That was why on this particularly busy day, the teller made her wait off to the side as she scribbled furiously with a borrowed permanent marker, first on a FedEx box she was attempting to reuse, then on the aforementioned plastic bag. As I turned to leave after smugly conducting a brisk transaction for my perfectly taped parcel, I heard the postman say to the woman, “did you write a return address on that one?”

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