As I began to write tonight, the first thought I had was for you to “close your eyes, and imagine that you’re in a line that never ends…”
Well, that doesn’t work in written post, now does it?
So my SECOND thought was to begin with, “Imagine, if you will, that you’re standing in a line that never ends….” Are you with me now? Standing in that line that never ends? Perhaps – – oh, let just say for the fun of it – – that you’re in a Post Office line in the United Kingdom.
You begin to get very sleepy…lulled to the point of your eyes going in and out of focus, fighting the urge to doze off as you hear a very British, very proper and very robotic voice say, “Cashier number Two, pleezzz.”
Pause. Head begins to nod again. Pause. Look around and begin to take note of what everyone is wearing, what everyone is holding to take to the window and mail, and what everyone else is doing to manage their own dozing-off behaviors.
More time lapses. More time. “Cashier number Four, pleezzz.”
Fifteen minutes later your head jerks up from nodding off to sleep. You look around sheepishly and think, “Oh well, I may have made a fool of myself but at least it’s probably my turn,” only to focus again on those standing in line with you and realizing that you haven’t moved an inch.
The story I have begun to set before you is not imagined. Only the characters have changed. Okay, no they haven’t. It’s me – and thirty or forty other people in the Post Office line. Waiting.
I’m not exactly feeling like Dorothy. I mean, I’m not standing there in the Post Office, clicking my little New Balance beige tennis shoes together saying, “There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home….” Rather, I think that each time I go to the Post Office my head is more filled with thoughts such as these:
1. Why is the “AVAILABLE 24 HOURS FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE!! Automatic teller machine always broken?”
2. Why is it that people who don’t place importance on personal hygiene are the ones that seem to populate the Post Office lines?
3. Why is it that we’re (the US) the country who came up with the phrase “going postal” and they’re (the UK) the ones with bullet proof glass between the service providers and the public?
4. Why is it that when I have a package I’m sending to the US that weighs more than two kilos, that the service provider looks at me while shaking their head up and down (as if to make me nod in sync) say, “Well, you KNOW, if this package contained BOOKS (looks at me with wider eyes), then your PRICE would be GREATLY re-DUCED!” Do they THINK I’m going to lie to the Post Office of the United Kingdom and risk the souvenir that I searched for over a three week period be confiscated? Really?
These and other thoughts are what occupy my head whilst (Don’t you love that word? Whilst?) visiting the Post Office.
But here’s a new thought I had today. The UK Post Office literally forced me to just stop, look around, wait, and think. And, for that – I was actually grateful.
And, when I turned and finally strolled out of the Post Office, I had given up my struggle to make the line move. I had laid my stress of reading assignments aside for the moment. And because I wasn’t preoccupied with these thoughts as I had previously been before entering the Post Office, I spied a man pushing his bicycle with his pants tucked into his dress socks.
Then – I giggled and smiled at the postal employee just past the exit because he was taking his SWEET TIME unloading the letters from the deposit box outside.
As I walked back to the college, the very proper British robotic voice played over in my head, this time talking (in my head – not out loud!) to those I walked by on the sidewalk: “Step aside and move out of the Way, pleez.” “Guess it’s time for some Lunch, pleez.” “How about Panini, pleez…”
And, to all my friends in the U.S. “Have a very good Evening, pleez…”
** ** ** Here’s a treat for you. If you look through the middle of the crowd in this last picture, you’ll see the man with the balding spot. Look down, and then see his pants tucked into his socks. Hee hee hee! Practical (for cycling) AND funny to look at! A two-fer!