A Lighter view. . .Plan C, turkey magnets and trained monkeys

A Lighter view. . .Plan C, turkey magnets and trained monkeys

By Karen M. Morris

By Karen M. Morris

Freelance writer

Someone once said, “Christmas is a time of endless hope.” Obviously, this person has spent some time waiting in line at the post office during the holidays.

Over the years. I’ve developed the perfect “mailing” plan to avoid the seasonal jamboree down at postal headquarters. For example: If you had a baby, a birthday, or got married during the last two months of the year…I mailed your gift in October. And if December rolled around, and by some fluke you won the Nobel Peace Prize in physics, I’d assume it was a mistake.

But my foolproof plan left me completely unprepared when Mom called to say the clan couldn’t make it for Christmas. Since their gifts barely fit in the basement, there was a high probability they wouldn’t squeeze into the mailbox.

This called for plan “B.” Return the gifts for smaller ones…ones that would fit in an envelope. Instead of a Harry Potter book for my nephew, I’d send a picture of the neighbor kid who looks like Harry. And the all-star tackle box I bought my brother could be downsized to a bobber key chain. But I didn’t feel right replacing Mom’s 20-quart roaster with a miniature turkey refrigerator magnet.

I needed to be brave and institute plan “C”…also known as crisis mode. I’d make the pilgrimage to the land of zip codes, bubble wrap and global express. How bad could it be?

I packed everything in an orange crate and when I lifted the box, it sounded like a popcorn popper coughing. So I stuffed some old rag socks inside to stabilize the load and then securely wrapped brown grocery bags around it.

The line outside the post office looked like opening day at Wrigley Field. People were stretched out to the street and past four major intersections. One look at their pitiful faces revealed they were all suffering from the dreaded “line lag.”

Some exhibited the early symptoms of flamingo leg…trying to support their body weight on one foot. Others (in the latter stages) simply collapsed and were using their packages for life support. I took a deep breath, vowed to return home someday, and joined the stationary parade.

Before long, I learned the cadence of the line. It was similar to a chain gang but without the speed. “Long line,” I said, peeking over my orange crate at the man behind me. He just stared back with vacant eyes. (Note to self: Line lag generates zombies.)

When new people joined our procession, we’d scrutinize their packages and gawk at them as if their hair were on fire. One woman showed up pulling a wagon full of gifts, still in their flimsy store boxes. Gasps of disbelief filled the air. She was going to bottleneck the entire system.

Another woman packed her items in an unwrapped cardboard box…with a name brand toilet paper prominently displayed across all four sides. Talk about tacky. And, a man holding a package completely covered in duct tape was shunned even by the zombies.

But that wasn’t the worst. We had line jumpers, burpers, sneezers, wheezers, hummers and crying babies. The crowd was getting surly. When a man tripped over his package and fell…we just closed up the gap.

Finally, it was my turn to step forward and mail my orange crate. There were five windows, and only one was open. The post office must have thought this guy was quite a firecracker, to give him the job of five people.

“How are you today?” he smiled.

“What’s that supposed to mean? Is my hair on fire and nobody in this Godforsaken place bothered to tell me?”

“I’m sorry you’re having a rough day,” he sympathized.

“Who told you I’m having a bad day? One of these losers I’ve been forced to co-habitate with all afternoon?”

“My mistake,” he whispered. “Let’s get your package on its way.”

“Quit treating me like a trained monkey. I told you, I don’t even know these people I’m with.”

“Fine,” he replied. “How can I help you?”

“I’d like to mail this,” I said, dropping the box on the counter.

“Now we’re on the same page,” he sighed. “Would you like to send it first class? Express? Parcel post? And would you be interested in delivery confirmation? Return receipt? Or insurance?”

“I’m not into mind games. I just want it mailed.”

The poor man gingerly took my orange crate, replaced the brown grocery sacks I’d taped on backwards, and then hurled it into the “out” bin. As I left the building, the crowd cheered me like a victorious matador. I’d survived the line! And it was worth every hour, just knowing how happy my family would be with their presents.

Three days later, Mom called and thanked me for the socks.

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