Thursday, June 16, 2005

Going Postal

Pissing off Postal.

What do you do when you piss off the postal service? Well, it’s quite simple.
After spending 6 months learning and growing into the role of a top-o-the-line Church Lady, I can say with great confidence- You DON’T.DO NOT. Danger Will Robinson Danger!! Run Forrest, Run-get the message?

I’ve written earlier about vibrant interactions with Doris, the psycho desk dame at the PO. Well, let me just reinforce the importance of keeping your postal attendants pleased.

I think the doc never got Doris’s meds quite right. She’s out a lot, and when she’s here, she’s not really here, if you know what I mean. Doris holds a very important position at our local branch, she holds the desk up with a firm double grip; and seeing as she’s only got (at last report) 21 months left to go before retirement, she’s on a track. And I’m not talking trains. She has everyone in the small 4X4 office walking on tip toes, stamping and licking their “P’s” and “Q’s” so to speak. Bottom line is NO one rocks Doris’ boat, and when her gauge begins to slide from cold to warm to hot, they pull her out and plug in Frank.

I’ve come to know Frank quite well in the last few weeks, an opportunity you really need to try to avoid if at all possible.
Frank used to be a bouncer at an all night diner/bowling alley for wayward truckers. He looks benign, but is anything but. His voice is soft, Vincent Price soft and he wears a smile that will eat you alive. Beware of Frank. Don’t know him. They only put him out front when Doris is about to blow. …..and as I said a few lines back, I’ve gotten to know Frank pretty well lately. I’d call him Frankie, ‘cept I’m afraid of what he might do if he heard me. I’m sort of scared to think it.


We have a lovely mail person who stops by every day to visit our lady’s room, and re do her hair. Sometimes she brushes her teeth, makes a few copies; on occasion she spends a little extra time trimming her cuticles. Every now and then she brings us a few parcels of mail; mostly, she uses us as a rest stop- and that’s fine. I like her. She’s pleasant, and easy. Good qualities. I’ve not ever really seen her deliver any mail, but she looks pretty spiffy driving that mail truck, I can tell you.
I stop by the post office to collect our mail from our PO box every other day. Being a large church, one would think we’d have a big box, but ah!! Not so!! We have a lovely bonsai box. It will graciously hold a few post cards and maybe half a magazine. I like visiting the box because it makes me feel like Petra Pan. I have the key. The key to the box.- The treasure box.- Well, it might be. So far, I’ve only come across the items listed above, but one day, just like the lottery, I’ll open that thing to find gold and treasures. Yes, one day, I’ll find the announcement that Doris is done. She’s on retirement row. But, ah.. I digress…

When the box gets too full, the mail crew pulls everything out, and replaces the overage with a simple slip of paper, a pink slip if you will and it has but one word on it. Tray
That means that your mail has been ripped from it’s warm and fuzzy bonsai box home, and thrown carelessly into a cold and heartless white plastic tray. Oh, the grief of it all.
The first time I unlocked our PO box door to find that slip of news, I was baffled.
“What does this mean?” I asked Doris.
She pulled the paper from my hands so fast it left me with paper cuts that ran across my fingers.
“Ouch!” into the mouth the digits flew. Paper cuts sting like the dickens. Holding my sliced fingers in my mouth, I glanced up at Doris.
She was staring at the pink sheet. She slipped into a fugue state, stood motionless. Her eyebrows were the first thing to come back to life. They started moving up towards her forehead. First one, then the other. The duo brows peaked and held. She kept staring at my slip. It began rattling in her hands, and then, without notice, one of her eyeballs plopped right out of her head!! It hit the formica desktop with a thud, then rolled around, in search of a willing edge, and plop. There it went onto the floor and into the nearest corner.
Immediately,from out of nowhere, came Frank.
“Come, Doris, it’s LUNCHTIME!!” ( Apparently Doris enjoys that part of her day)
The frozen woman stood still. Her mountain top eyebrows relaxed a little. Frank gently guided her away from the desk and led her into the back.
They paused at the curtain that separated the desk from the “back”. He tugged on the pink slip that was now sticking to her skin via her own sweat.
His voice, gentle and kind slipped out. “ Let it go, Doris, that’s a girl. Just let. It. Go.” Frank retrieved enough of the slip to realize what it said, and helped her find her way into the “back”. Then he straightened up and took her place at the desk.
“You need to clean out your box more often.”
“Doris doesn’t like overage mail.”
I recalled that Doris also didn’t like misdated mail, either, and that she had mastered the art of murdering mail that didn’t make it into the home office in a timely fashion. I was overcome with sympathetic feelings for my poor parcels, having now been slapped so viciously with an insulting label. Overage. I’d like to see someone call Doris Overage sometime. How insensitive.
“I’ll try to do better. Frank, is it?” I looked at his nametag.
“My name is Mr. Frankelcosielniasky. I’m from the old country, they just couldn’t fit it all on this prissy pat tag. And you need to clear out your box more often. Kapeesh?”
“ Yessir, Frank, uh. Mr. Frank. I kapeesh. I mean I get it. Thank you, um. Could I have the tray, now?”
“You’ll be lucky if Doris hasn’t shredded the whole lot of it, lady.” He huffed off to the “back”, the curtains opened for him and slammed shut behind him, as slammed as fabric can.
He returned, gave me my tray and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. The next day was Saturday, but I was so shell-shocked from my desk-time chat with Frank and Doris, that I went anyway, and cleaned out the box. No surprises.
Monday morning, I went by on my way to work. The week proved to be an easy one. The big bosses were gone, my regular work was caught up, and I looked forward to doing some simple Church Chick filing and copying. I opened my box, on that fateful early early Monday morning and stepped back aghast. A lone piece of pink paper caught my eye. I’d been “tray”ed again.
I gently backed out of the PO and got into my car. I hit the road running and went straight to work. I was so nervous, that even my typewriting quivered, my font fuzzed on the page. How could I get my mail and come out alive?

One of our interns came in that day, and stopped in the office to say hi. She was a cute, really rather breathtaking beauty. She helped out almost daily, and was always willing to do something new and different.
“I need your help”
“Sure, what is it? “Can you go to the PO and give the desk person this paper? Don’t speak, just flash those baby blues and smile for all you’re worth. Take your cell phone, and call me if you need to. Can you do it? You’ll be saving my life if you do.”
“Sure, I’ll be right back”
And so she was. She returned with a “tray” full of this and that mail. No prob. No complaints, no fears voiced. No threatening sense. None. Wow.
I’ve learned that the only way to make good on mistakes is to face up to them. I didn’t really feel I had made the mistake this time, but taking credit for mistakes is something I do exceptionally well, so I just jumped right in and claimed it anyway. I should have met the desk clerk face to face and taken my punishment like a man, but instead, I wimped out and relied on the beauty of another. A hard lesson learned, let me tell you.
The next day, there was a stack of postcards sitting in wait for me, with a note that said, “needs more postage”. Now, I’ve sent postcards plenty of times, with no problem, so I decided it was a subliminal message to me. A message in code. “Don’t send the messenger, wimps pay out.” I think it pissed off Frank that I sent in reinforcements. Oh, great. Just great.
Today, I went in early, and when I opened my bonsai, I heard some shuffling behind the open end of the box, saw a shuffle, a flash of blue and white. I cleaned out the box, and stood to face Frank. Gulp.
“ Good morning, Frank.Sir”
He stood like Mr. Clean. Arms crossed across his expanded chest. He just nodded.
I stood at the trash can and pulled out the junk mail, and dropped a piece of it into the trash can. “You’d better not be putting anything in that trash, as hard as it was to get it in your box. You’d better not be throwing that stuff away. You’d better not.”
He stood up straighter and looked over the desk, as if he could see inside the trash can, although it stood a good 15 feet away and behind a table.
I reached inside the trash and pulled out my junk ad. I opened my mouth to speak-
“Don’t be.” I saw Doris peeking out from behind the trembling curtains.

On the desk sat a miniature sign. It read, “Doris 300 down, and 20 months, 25 days to go.”……. Where’s the pony express when you really need it?.

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