I was standing in line at the post office the other day, several packages stacked on my arms, balancing as if I were holding a serving tray with very expensive drinks for very important guests. I looked around at all of the sad faces in line before and after me. The post office is a holiday tradition nobody likes. Yet, there we all were, making the best of it and trying not to get on each others nerves.
Every time the line moved forward I would scan the crowd and recalculate my chances of getting “Mr. Grinch” (the postal worker I always dread) and sweating profusely when it seemed as if he would be the one to call me over. He is the one postal worker behind the counter that unabashedly hates his job and hates his customers. He is not ashamed to scowl or to stare blankly into your eyes. He has perfected the art of breathing sullenly right into your face. He loves to say “No.” He lives for it! Saying no is the only thing that makes his mouth twitch slightly in what some might call a smile. His heart is likely two sizes too small and it makes him grumpy all year long. His hair often sticks straight up from the top of his head as if he has been pulling on it like a stressed out villan from a children’s cartoon. He often looks as if he is smelling something bad and that something is probably you. He will not let you mail anything too complicated. This is his cardinal rule. Got a bar code because you printed the postage from home? He refuses to scan it. Need delivery confirmation? He only gives those to people shipping priority mail, and only because he has to, after all, it is included with the price. Want to know your pricing and delivery time-frame options? You only get the option he gives you. Do not ask questions. Do not pass go. Do not collect stamps on your way to Park Place.
Do not get into a power struggle with Mr. Grinch. You will lose.
As I stood in line, wishing I knew his schedule so I could sneak in on his lunch break, I watched him walk slowly around the corner and disappear into the back of the post office. The line moved forward. Five minutes went by. He still had not returned. As I moved to the front of the line I heard one postal worker grumble to the worker next to her, “Where is Mr. Grinch? Did he go on break or something?” I hoped not. His customer was still standing at the counter, waiting patiently at his station, craning her neck around to see if she could spot him coming around the corner. Poor woman. I did not envy her at all. I actually wanted to give her a hug and a chocolate brownie. I knew she was going to need it after this encounter. I also wished I had brought some popcorn. This was going to be entertaining.
Finally he reappeared. I began to really sweat. It looked like I might end up at his station. I said silent prayers. I wondered if I would be daring enough to let the person behind me go ahead of me when Mr. Grinch growled, “Next.” in my general direction. That’s what Jim did the last time he was here. He didn’t care what people thought. He didn’t care if he seemed rude. The time before that he had actually let two people go ahead of him until another, more acceptable, postal worker was available. That’s how determined Jim is to avoid dealing with Mr. Grinch when it comes to our mailing needs.
Mr. Grinch shuffled over to his customer and said, “We only have Christmas stamps and global stamps.”
“What are global stamps?” The woman asked, “Are they for international mail?”
“No, they are regular stamps.”
“Ok, I’ll take one of those.”
“They won’t work for this,” he replied, “they’re global stamps.”
“So they are international stamps?” The women cautiously questioned.
“No, they are regular stamps.”
“OK, well, I’ll take a Harvey Milk stamp then.” The lady stated with obvious frustration.
“We don’t have those. We only have Christmas stamps and global stamps.” he answered in a monotone. The blank stare was in full force.
“I don’t want Christmas stamps,” she pleaded, “can you get me anything that isn’t Christmas? I only need one stamp.”
“I’d have to go in the back and look again.” He answered.
Then they just stared at each other in silence. He was willing her to send him to the back so he could eat candy bars with his feet up for five more minutes or whatever Grinches do when they do not want to work. She was desperate to leave the post office. She’d had about as much of this as she could take. Finally she blurted out, “Are you sure I can’t use one of those global stamps?”
He sighed, “No. Those are global.” Then he started yelling to his right, “Does anyone have a Harvey Milk stamp?” The other workers rolled their eyes in unison.
To my relief, the post office worker next to Mr. Grinch looked at me and smiled. Then he said the most beautiful word a person in line at the post office during Christmas season can hear. He said, “Next.”
As I walked behind the poor woman, who was obviously completely desperate for a stamp, I felt a little guilty. If she had only gotten the right person she would have had her stamp by now. She’d probably even be home drinking hot cocoa, knitting, and watching her favorite TV show by now too. I contemplated inviting her to go in front of me and talk to my charming, smiling, postal guy, but while I was thinking and debating with myself, I heard her mumble in desperation, “Just give me a Christmas stamp then.” So, I kept walking, mailed my packages, and thanked my lucky stars that I had won the post office lotto this year. I was also grateful that I had just finished participating in the one holiday tradition nobody likes and that I had survived!
So here is the deal, tomorrow is the last day I can ship priority mail and get your necklaces to you before Christmas. I am totally willing to go to the Post office one more time for you this holiday season. I am even willing to risk dealing with Mr. Grinch. That’s how much I adore you. It’s like to the moon and back only better. If you still haven’t made your purchases go do it now! Here is the link to my Etsy shop: Dome Life Studios. You can buy one of a kind art necklaces like this for your favorite people:
* Mr. Grinch is not his real name. It’s a name I made up to protect the naughty and not so nice.