I've never gotten into it much on here, but I participate in the "swapping" of unused beauty products. If you're a girl, you'll get it — you too have bottles and tubes of things here and there that you bought or received as a gift, bottles and tubes of things you have a) never used, b) have no intention of ever using and/or c) feel too guilty to just throw it away. So instead, these things accumulate under bathroom counters and in linen closets all across America. They mate and multiply when you're not looking. And then on some quiet Saturday morning, as you innocently open the cabinet to retrieve a new bag of cotton balls, WHAM – it all comes tumbling out. Well there is an entire online community dedicated to the swapping of these items with other beauty-product-plagued women. It's pretty awesome — what is your trash is someone else's treasure, for the mere price of postage. I mean, how awesome is it that someone so craves your Avon wisteria-scented bubble bath that they're willing to trade you a shiny new MAC lipstick???
So anyway, I mail a lot of packages. I rejoiced at the recent rollout of the self-serve postal machine. Maybe you've seen it — it resides in your local P.O., looks like a giant ATM machine with a scale, and is open 24/hours/day for your mailing pleasure. This invention has saved my life, or at least my lunch hour. So imagine my disappointment the other day when I lugged in an armload of packages only to find an "Out of Order" sign on said machine. Ugh. Since I was already there and the P.O. was still open for business, I took a number. Along with the 500 other people who stopped by to pick up a stamp and now found themselves standing around waiting for two postal workers to eventually call their number. Not fun.
I discovered, during the 40 minutes that I stood around trying not to breathe the contaminated air around me and to ignore the three kids weaving around the patrons playing a rousing game of what I shall call "shrieky tag", that the P.O. is a great place for people watching. IF you're in the mood. And I wasn't. Two people in particular (aside from the shrieking, running children) were bugging me big-time. I heard them before I dared sneak a peek. Or I heard HIM, really. "Him" was a very large (think, massive) guy wearing a t-shirt and flimsy cotton shorts that hit at the flattering level of mid-calf. His socks stretched up his calves, reaching for the shorts, but falling, well, short. The guy was talking geek-speak, which is not at all uncommon in Austin. No big deal. The big deal was his VOICE, people. He was talking/shouting, as if to a deaf person he assumed to be mentally impaired. Only he was talking to a woman sitting right next to him. At first I thought, that POOR WOMAN, she can't get away, why won't he shut up and leave her alone…" But after a few minutes I figured out that they were together. And this woman was very old and kind of shrunken looking. And she had no teeth. BUT she seemed very bright and seemed to understand all the geek speak he was throwing at her. There seemed to be no reason for him to shout, as she was neither deaf nor mentally impaired. In any event, here's a snippet of the conversation I could Not. Get. Away. From.
Big/guy: SO, YOU KNOW IF YOU WANT TO UPGRADE YOUR COMPUTER, I CAN COME OVER AND HELP YOU WITH THAT. I KNOW ALL ABOUT COMPUTERS. YOU REALLY SHOULD GET A BROADBAND CONNECTION. TRUST ME ON THIS. YOU'D BE SURPRISED HOW MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE –
little/lady: oh, thank you big guy, that would be nice, although I only use the Internet for email so I don't think –
Big/guy: NO, REALLY – IT MAKES SUCH A HUGE DIFFERENCE. TRUST ME. IF YOU WANT A WHOLE NEW MACHINE, TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT AND I'LL CALL DELL AND ORDER IT FOR YOU – I KNOW PEOPLE THERE AND CAN GET YOU A GOOD PRICE. TRUST ME, I –
little/lady: oh, well, that's nice, but I really don't think I need –
Big/guy: HEY, WAS THAT YOUR NUMBER THEY JUST CALLED?
I don't know if I've properly conveyed the annoyance of the whole interaction. So there was that, coupled with all the bitter-looking women in rumpled work clothes jingling their keys, and did I mention the shrieking, stomping children?? In any event – it sucked.
Oh, and one more thing: what the HELL requires a 10-15 minute transaction??? Person after person would step up to the counter with one package to mail, and still be there 10 minutes later. Someone stepped up for seven minutes — and walked away with stamps. SEVEN MINUTES it took him to get a book of stamps. I watched in disbelief as the little old lady from above stepped up to the counter — empty-handed. Seems she just had a question. A 15-minute question that apparently required her face-to-face interaction with a postal person, then she finally left — empty handed. Now, why didn't the large, helpful, loud young man tell her ahead of time she could have just gone to the f***ing website??? AAARRGGHH!
Throughout the chaos, the two postal ladies managed to remain calm and even polite. Amazing. But all I kept thinking was how I could NEVER work at a post office or I'd be the one who ended up grabbing a rifle and shooting up the lobby while cackling in maniacal glee.
Guess writing was a much safer career choice for me. Thus far, anyway…