Today while I was on my lunch break I went to the small post office that's around the corner from work. There were only two people ahead of me in line, so I was internally congratulating myself for getting there before the rush hit. Unfortunately, I was so very, very wrong.
The two customers ahead of me both had rather involved transactions. One was a jeweler who was sending pieces of fine jewelry, which of course involved insurance and tracking numbers, and about a quarter of the two dozen packages he had were international, so they needed customs slips as well. His end of the counter was quickly covered in sheafs of little green customs slips and packages and insurance forms.
The other customer was an elderly woman who was purchasing stamps. She was toting a wheeled cart stuffed to the brim with empty Dillards bags, and she was sorting through the stamps with the intensity of a scholar perusing the Dead Sea Scrolls. The post office clerk brought out book after book of stamps, each one scrutinized and rejected for various reasons that the elderly lady loudly shared with the entire post office.
"Oh, if these had forget-me-nots on them instead of violets, I'd get these. These are nice, but I don't like that they say 'love' on them. Oh, I don't need Black History stamps..Oh, no, I don't even know who that singer is. These are too bright. These aren't bright enough" on and on she went, like some kind of Post Office Goldilocks, trying to find that "just right" book of stamps. 15 minutes she took, as she thumbed through each pile, asking if there were any others, if other post offices might have other designs. I leaned back against the counter and waited, inwardly grinding my teeth but outwardly radiating patience as I watched my lunch hour tick away while the woman hemmed and hawwed and compared stamp after stamp.
Finally she settled on some stamps featuring cats and dogs, but she made the post office clerk tear off a segment in such a way that the stamps would not have white cats on them. Because she didn't like white cats, you see, and simply would not send stamps with white cats on them.
After she left I mailed my one package and scooted out into the parking lot with a sigh of relief. But it wasn't over just yet. From across the lot came the reedy voice of the stamp lady: "Yoohoo! Miss! MISS! Are you going in the direction of Hikes Lane??? Would you give me a ride??"
I froze, and then told her in a regretful tone that I was going back to work, which was in the opposite direction, and hurried back to my car. Even if I had been going in her direction, my car was crammed to the brim with so much stuff that I had no room for the woman or her cart. Last I saw her, she was heading for the bus stop.