December 15 – one of the busiest mailing days of the year.
My co-worker was on vacation, and we had certified mails that had to be taken to the post office, so guess who got elected?
The waiting line at the local postal branch was out the door into the parking lot, and due to COVID-19 requirements, only one person at a time was allowed to enter. The line inside the store was about 10 people long, spaced the required 6 feet apart.
Ahead of me, outside, was a lady with a huge, and apparently rather heavy, box. As the line snaked along, we exchanged minor comments, and she said she needed to get that package to her granddaughter by Christmas. As each new customer entered the store and the line advanced, she pushed the box along. Finally, it was her turn to enter (after about 20 minutes outside, in 26 degree (F) weather!).
About 5 minutes later, I was able to ease into the store behind her. At least it was warmer in there.
There was a young, foreign couple just ahead of us, who were trying frantically to finish assembling the two packages they intended to mail. They had run out of tape, and the store didn’t have any left. The Big Box Lady (as she shall henceforth be called) reached into her pocket and pulled out a roll of packing tape. She then not only offered the tape to the foreign couple, but she also did the taping for them – and believe me, the lady knew what she was doing. I got the distinct impression that she’s done a lot of package mailing in her lifetime.
After another 20 minutes, we were about halfway through the inside waiting line – when Big Box Lady turned to me with a chagrined expression on her face and exclaimed that she couldn’t mail that package after all because she had left her wallet at home.
Oh, no. I briefly debated offering to pay the mailing charges for her (she could always just send me a check), but realized I only had enough cash to pay for the postage on the certified mails for work. I felt a little sad as I watched Big Box Lady drag that huge parcel back out to the parking lot.
Eventually, my turn at the mailing window came. I completed my business and proceeded to leave the store, only to discover that it was after 5 pm and the doors had been locked – both to people trying to get in and to those trying to get out. I waited a few minutes, fruitlessly pushing on the door, until another departing customer came up behind me. I asked that customer to please go back to the desk and find someone to let us out, which she did.
As we waited for a postal employee to come with the door keys (and believe me, no one in that post office was moving any faster than absolutely necessary at the end of a very long work day), I glanced out the door into the parking lot. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but the Big Box Lady returning with her parcel, and her wallet. The look in her face when she discovered the locked doors was heartbreaking.
I waved to her and tried to convey that if I could get the door open, I would allow her to sneak in. After all, the line in the store was long enough that no one would really know who was supposed to be last in line.
But then the postal employee arrived with the keys – and it was the branch supervisor. It was after 5 pm, the store was closed, and this was a federal facility. How likely was it any rules would be waived for a somewhat desperate customer?
I tried anyway. I told the supervisor that Big Box Lady had been in line ahead of me but had to return to her car, only to then find herself locked out. Could he please let her in?
And he did. There were smiles all around. The huge gift was, I assumed, sent off to the Big Box Lady’s granddaughter.
That little dose of Christmas spirit made me feel warm and cozy all evening. Kudos to that postal supervisor and his kind heart.
Don’t know if I’ll post between now and Christmas, so just in case – may you all have a Very Merry Christmas, and a safe and healthy holiday season.
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Image by an unknown Amazon/Fedex/UPS delivery driver