There were errands to run and noon seemed like a good time to get them done. The glory of the plan was that I could do everything in a central place, get a nice shawerma sandwich to go at Saca's and be back at my desk in no time at all.
The first errand was easy. I dropped my library book in the book return slot. And on its due date. Think of that.
Wow! Things were going really well. Now across the street to mail two small packages.
How was I to know that a local Brownie Scout Troupe was using the Post Office as a staging area for its field trip to City Hall. At least twenty-five screaming prepubescent girls and three or four way too early in the day to be at the ends of their wits scout leaders clearly at their wits' ends shouting in that please God don't let me kill them tone of voice all the time trying to sound patient and empathic and knowing they were failing miserably filled most of the small customer area. I was sixth in line from the service window. Three people in front of me in the line was an overly dressed for going to the post office woman. She had two small, out fitted dogs on separate leashes. The dogs wore matching sweaters and matching beaded collars. Totally embracing their gender identity issues, they took turns trying to mount each other. When they became too frustrated with that, they took turns trying to mount table legs and twice human legs. Just as they actually succeeded in one mounting the other, the woman was called to a service window. While trying and failing to discretely untangle her dogs and take them with her she dropped her packages. Those of us in line were only too happy to help her and get her and the dogs to the window away from us. Of course, in post office tradition, each of her packages was going to a different third world country and each package required insurance and proof of delivery. The dogs resumed their coitus and were not unnoticed by the Brownies who shrieked even louder and laughed those shrill laughs of the morally outraged and incredibly thrilled. Their field trip began prematurely as their now completely hysterical leaders rushed them out of the building.
Finally at a window, I paid for my mailings and was given a receipt. The postal clerk warned me to not lose the receipt until I was certain the packages were delivered.
I stumbled form the Post Office not daring to look back at the dogs. From the sounds they made, things were going pretty well.
At Saca's I ordered the shawerma I'd been visualizing all the time I'd been in the Post Office. When I opened my wallet to pay, my postal receipt fell into the tip container. Taking anything out of a tip container is like making change in the church collection plate. But the postal clerk had warned me to not lose that receipt. Hoping no one in the busy little restaurant would notice, I looked into the container. It was full of pieces of paper tossed in with bills and change. The only way to find my receipt was to look at every piece of paper. I took the container to a table and began riffling through it. People stared at me and gave me baleful looks. I fully expected that someone would call the police. Nevertheless, I continued my furtive search. The stares at Saca's seemed far easier to endure than the disapproval of the woman at the Post Office. She'd been through so much already.
I finally found my receipt and was returning the tip container to the counter when a woman cut in front of me and demanded ketchup for her lamb shawerma. Silence fell on Saca's. No one cared anymore about that sneaky woman pawing around in the tip container. They were too shocked by the request for ketchup.
Finally, the owner of Saca's tearfully gasped, "Wait," and disappeared. Several minutes later he returned holding an unopened bottle at arm's length.
I'm thinking he had gone to the nearest grocery story and bought it. Even after he gave her the ketchup, no one in Saca's spoke. All eyes were on her as she poured ketchup onto the pita.
The Post Office will recover from this morning's carrying on.
I'm not so sure the staff at Saca's will ever speak again.
At least the public library got its book back on time.