Yet another lucky and smart person ordered a book on line from Steel Cut Press. The buyer is a member or our armed forces. I knew this because of the APO address. Yesterday I tried sending the book Priority Mail from the self service kiosk in the main post office. Because of the APO address, the machine informed me, I needed to speak to an actual Post Office Department employee.
This morning at 8:30 on the dot (whatever that means) I pulled into a parking space in front of the post office. Getting out of the car parked next to mine, a man was pulling boxes and boxes to be mailed out of the car with him. No mean trick.
My intention was to get out of my car and into the post office before he finished loading up his parcels all of which, I knew from experience, would require special time and attention and that ultimately he would pay for the postage and the insurance and the return receipt requested with the change he had been saving for the past several months -- every day putting it in the band aid box next to his bed.
"Oh, no!" I vowed to myself. "Not this time."
And so I ran from the car, into the post office and to the front of the line. Just before I began my Screw You Old Timer I Win dance I realized I had forgotten the book in its fancy for free from the post office mailer. As I was walking out the door and to my car, I said a good morning to the guy and his packages finally making their way into the post office.
The new and humbler and possible less competitive I got back in line with book and chagrin in tow. When I laid my arm on the counter to rest from the self inflicted assault on my dignity, my arm immediately felt weird and tingly. I raised it and discovered that first the counter and then my arm were covered with tiny ants. I began frantically and dare I say slightly hysterically shaking my right arm and brushing away tiny things that hopefully others saw as clearly as did I. People stared but were kind enough to say nothing. Not even the guy leaving the counter having successfully and quickly mailed his packages.
"You need to fill out this form," the Post Office clerk said to me in response to my pointing out the APO address on the Steel Cut Press shipping label.
She handed me a pen and motioned me to the counter next to her. As I filled out the form I noticed that she, too, was brushing herself. I felt vindicated. Itchy but vindicated.
Just as I finished the form, the clerk asked the woman behind me in line to come forward.
"Do you have any stamps with pictures of famous people on them?" the next in line asked the itchy and brushing clerk.
"All sorts," the clerk said, ants flying from her shirt in all directions.
While the clerk recited names including Helen Keller, Ronald Regan, Humpty Dumpty, Jack In The Box, Grover Cleveland, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Amelia Earhart I stopped flipping off ants in preparation for flipping off the next in line person, the clerk, the United States Postal Service and the whole publishing project until I heard that final name.
I wrote a book about her. People are buying the book. And I, in fact, am sending it off to someone right now. Someone serving our country and keeping us all safe.
And thus it was that my trip to the Post Office to mail a book turned into a courageous act of self sacrificing service to this country.
You may thank me at your leisure in your own way.