Reckoning with Reality Day 2: Gone Postal

Being the change she wants to see in the world is not going to be easy.

Case in point: Stick Chick is out of stamps.  Loverboy informs her that they can be easily obtained at Customer Service at the grocery store.

“I never realized that,” she said mumbling under her breath.

Thinking to herself she adds, “Yeah, I want to stand in line again as my frozen foods defrost, waiting for the newbie behind the customer service counter to find the correct brand of cigarettes and baby formula for the guy with the beer gut in the wife-beater and cut-offs so that I can get a lousy book of stamps to mail a letter.”

Nevertheless, she decides she’ll try to remember on next trip to the grocery store.

USA Forever stamp
Guess what today was.  Go ahead, guess.

Eeeehhhh! Time’s up.

Grocery shopping day.

In typical fashion, with a nagging head cold and a cold wind blowing in the parking lot, her mission was clear.  “Get groceries and evacuate the area as quickly as possible.”

Once she got through the checkout and loaded her groceries in the car, she pushed her empty cart towards a passing cart-collector, her mission complete. Like she was leaving pit row, Stick Chick got into her car and closed the door. Turning the key in the ignition, she realized she had forgotten to even think about stamps.

She hesitated. She could go back inside, but decided that immediately facing the cold again to retrieve a book of stamps seemed worse than driving with the heater on for a few minutes to the local post office.  Normally a trip to the post office would have been against her better judgment, but her mind was clouded with Zinc tablets, acetaminophen and some sort of antihistamine, so the drive to the post office seemed like the lesser of two evils.

Oh, how wrong she can be.

Stick Chick found the closest parking space. Though she was tempted to park in an accessible space and limp in (I told you her mind was a little cloudy), she resisted and trotted inside at a brisk pace.  At least seven people stood in line ahead of her, only one employee working to serve the public.

Just as she approached the line, so did a thin twenty-something redhead who moved like a gazelle on the hunt.  Redhead, wearing a hounds-tooth jacket, jeans and lace-cut, crème leather western boots, her wristlet dangling in competition with her car keys, had the stress etched in her forehead that comes from running errands on a lunch break only to encounter that dreaded line.Stick Chick Be the Change

“Be the change,” flashed like a buzzing old neon sign in Stick Chick’s mind.

“You go ahead,” Stick Chick said to the redhead.

Redhead smiled broadly and uttered an appreciative, “Thanks.”

Stick Chick took her place, behind the old lady wearing the babushka, followed by the administrative assistant-type lady holding an armload of the day’s packages, her wrinkled forehead shouting her resolve to remain in line despite being underpaid to endure it. Behind her one young mother and her two year old, in a full-on meltdown active son, and a woman making a commotion as she taped her packages closed, juggling her purse, pen, packages, tape dispenser and mailing labels all while she stood waiting to be waited on. Two others, turned away disgusted.  They left providing a measure of encouragement to Stick Chick that the line might be moving along after all.

A steady stream of others came inside and lined up behind her. No background music played, only the sound of shuffling feet and occasional sighs filled the room.

A phone rings.  It belongs to Suave Guy who is now in line behind Stick Chick.  He answers his phone with his full name in his “on duty” tone. His pharmacist is calling to ask about his prescription.  Her voice is so loud, Stick Chick can hear both sides of the conversation, though he does not realize this.

“I don’t know.  It comes and goes.  I thought my family doctor prescribed it, but maybe not.  It’s for a condition (pauses with the realization that he is in a silent, public room but needs to make his point) that flares up from time to time. I don’t know.  I’ll call you back later,” says Suave Guy as he ends the call.

Suave Guy dials and places another call.

“Yeah, what was the alarm about? I’m standing in line at the post office.  I’ll have to call you back.  I am standing in line at the post office. (again) I’ll stop at GNC and pick some up. Okay, I’ll call you later.”

Stick Chick wonders why Suave Guy called from the line in the post office to say he’d call later. Why not call later?

She also considers: If a person dies while standing in line at the post office holding a book of Forever stamps, is that what is meant by poetic justice?

An eternity 25 minutes later, Stick Chick has left the post office with stamps. She wonders whether Redhead knows she was today’s lesson in kindness, patience and understanding.