I stopped by the post office this afternoon for some stamps. I need them, because I'm one of those old fuddy-duddies who refuses to pay bills online. I'm not much for putting my financial information out into the swirling, nebulous, ethereal entity known as cyberspace, free for the taking.
My post office is not the most pleasant place to spend a Friday afternoon. It was built in 1917, and appears to have undergone minimal modernization. The entryway has been fitted with a push-panel automated door, to make it handicap-accessible, presumably. There are actually two doors. You push the panel to open the first, step inside, and grab the door handle of the next. By giving it a strong pull, that door swings open automatically. I am not sure how a differently-abled person is helped by this system. The entrance is at the top of a wide row of five steps. There is no ramp.
Entering the post office is a feat best accomplished with the assistance of the Indiana Jones special-effects team. Once the front door swings open, you must step inside the vestibule, yank the handle of the second door, back up for it to open while avoiding the closing of the first door, then dart inside before it slaps your backside. Woe is the postal patron who must juggle packages to or from the counter. Especially woe is the person who meets a fellow adventurer attempting to exit the building at the time of his entrance. Such a feat begs the advice and expert timing of the national double-dutch jump-rope champions.
Upon successful ingress, the senses are assaulted by an odor of dead mouse. The smell has been present for as long as I can remember. Either the building has ventilation issues, or a mischief of mice leads an unhealthy existence in the confines of that stone edifice.
I dodged a chubby young man who was exiting with a package, sucked in a breath of fresh outside air, and grapevined my way through the doors like Dorothy and her brainless, heartless, cowardly friends embarking on their tribulation-filled journey down the Yellow Brick Road. The clerk disappeared into the back room as I stepped to the counter.
I am certain the postal clerk saw me enter. I dropped my keys with a jangle onto the granite countertop. She had to hear me, even over her chatter with a male mail clerk in the bowels of the back room. I stared at the silver bell sitting in front of the Ring Bell for Service sign. Normally, I am loathe to ching-ching for attention. It smacks of impatience, of self-importance, of entitlement to immediate attention by the public servants. But because I felt she had passive-aggressively snubbed me, I dinged.
The clerk came out and scanned a label. She greeted me pleasantly over her shoulder. I told her that I was intent on purchasing two books of stamps. During my pre-bell-ringing interlude, I had surveyed the samples of stamps. I saw Ronald Reagan and shelter pets and wedding rings and Latin music legends. My old friend the Liberty Bell was missing. The clerk asked me if I had a preferred design. I told her no, that any design seemed as good as the next.
She handed me two books of evergreen forevers. Those are Christmas stamps. But after saying that any type of stamp would do, I could hardly cry foul and renege on the pine cones.
I suppose this is Karma's way of telling me that my Christmas tree should not still be glowing cheerfully in my family room every evening, what with this being the first day of April.