But for years, I’ve gone out of my way to avoid the line at the post office at all costs.
No matter what time I get there — the second it opens, around lunchtime, or an hour before it closes — there’s a giant, snaking line. Post office lines are far worse than, say, Starbucks or concert venue lines. At least I know that once I get to the front of those lines, I’ll be rewarded with a calorie-filled coffee or an awesome rock show. Post office lines are not only rewardless, but they also move slower than molasses.
I’ll say this upfront: If there’s any glimmer of hope in the post office line, it’s in knowing that people will eventually get into it behind you. “Well, I guess I’m one step closer to the front,” you’ll say to yourself. And every once in awhile, someone will have to be told where the end of the line is, because it’s not entirely obvious. “Hey, bro, the end of the line is here,” some fat guy sucking down a Starbucks latte will say, pointing his chubby finger football fields away. Those words are the equivalent of kicking somebody in the balls. And, man, do they feel good to say.
But then you remember you’re in the line again.
What you usually get by way of service at the post office is three to five open windows, depending on the branch you go to. Some post offices have separate lines for each window, but the ones in my nightmares have one long line for all of them. Each window will have a number associated with it and a little lamp that lights up when they’re ready to take you. Or a postal worker behind it will just agonizingly yell, “NEXT!”
I can almost guarantee that if you’re in line for 20 minutes or more, anywhere from two to four of those windows will inexplicably close and re-open. The guy 10 people ahead of you will get his mail sent off and bound out through the front doors like he just got laid for the first time. And then, out of the blue, the postal worker will close up shop at her station. This, of course, slows down the line even more.
Getting to the window is a whole different can of worms. Usually, when I finally reach the head of the serpent, the postal worker on the other side of it is in a horrible mood (or an artificially happy one, which is just as awful) — and has no idea that I’m actually at the post office to send a letter or a package. At this juncture, I’d get in a car and drive the letter to its destination — row it off in a damned boat — but something in the back of my head says, “Bro, you got this far. It can’t get any worse than this.” And it always does.
The monster at the window, five times out of 10, takes one look at whatever I’ve decided to send that day and informs me that I did something wrong with it in a matter-of-fact-type voice (only Sherlock Holmes and your proctologist are actually certified to use), and I have to step out of the line to correct it. It’s like getting punished in the first grade. “Go stand in the corner,” the postal worker is basically saying.
After extricating yourself from the line, which is what you were trying to not do for the last half hour, you then get nasty looks from all the people who are still in the line. Their eyes sneer at you, saying, “Bro, you better not try to butt me in line when you’re done doing whatever it is you effed up.” Of course, when you’re done fixing your issue, you have to sheepishly go up to the nearest window — where another person who hates the post office just as much as you do is being tortured — and explain why you were out of line. Then, hopefully, you’ll be able to get what you needed done completed. All that, while everybody’s staring at you with those “you asshole” eyes.
I always leave the post office angry. Gives a whole new meaning to “going postal.”