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Out Of Order – Not!

I went into the post office Friday to mail a package. There were fourteen – I counted – fourteen people in line in front of me! Where do all these people come from and why did they choose to go to the post office at the same time I did? This wasn’t even Christmas or any other holiday that I knew of. There were five windows for postal clerks and only two of them were open. This is as bad as Walmart which I can not understand why they have twenty-six lanes lined up and only five cashiers working at most given times! Think of the money they could save on cash registers and equipment if they only made five lanes to begin with. It doesn’t make sense to me at all.

This is one of my pet peeves, but let’s get back to the post office. After standing there for about five minutes with the line barely crawling I glanced around – there were four more customers that had come in behind me.  I knew there was a machine in the lobby I could run my package through and use my debit card. Why hadn’t I thought of this when I walked in the door? I had used it on other occasions when the windows were closed. I could see there was no one at the machine. Should I take a chance and try it? Sometimes it was out of order. From where I stood, I could not see an out of order sign. Then why was no one else using it? Why had they all chosen to stand in this snail-paced line? If I left the line and went to the machine in the lobby, one of two things could happen – 1.) I would get my package mailed in less then five minutes and be out of here, or 2.) The machine would actually be out of order and I would loose my place in line. As I ponder this two more people come in the door with packages in their hands and pass up the machine in the lobby. It must be out of order. I won’t take that chance!

Tapping my fingers on my package I pulled out my cell phone to check my messages even though there is a sign clearly posted – Please turn off all cell phones. Why not? There were others using theirs. I went through the messages fast and then through my emails. I even looked through Facebook. The line had dwindled down to ten in front of me by now. Did I really need to get this in the mail today? Yes, I did. I should have mailed it two days ago!

There was a woman closer to the front of the line with a baby stroller and two other young children. She was not having an easy time with them. The little girl was about two and was fascinated with the greeting card display. She would pull out one card and hand it to her mother and  the mother would scold her and put it back. Five seconds later she would be back with another card. She was very consistent and only took one card at a time. The little boy was about five and was pulling out the priority mail boxes and making a house out of them. There were stuffed animals in a display toward the font of the line that caught the two year olds  attention and she started piling them in the stroller with the baby. What was this woman thinking when she attempted to take on this chore with her children in tow? Surely she had been in here before and knew the temptations.

My mind wandered to the book I am writing, What Line. These are the times when I have my best ideas and no place to write them down but in my head. Sometimes I remember the grand thoughts and sometimes I don’t. The girl in front of me dropped her cell phone – not a good thing. When she picked it up I noticed the screen was shattered. “Uh-oh,” I said.

“She answered with a laugh, “It’s been like that. I drop it all the time. I’ve given up replacing it. As long as it works and I can send and receive texts I’m ok.” Then she proceeded to do just that – send and receive texts. Her fingers were flying on those keys! It takes me a while to even figure out how to start.

The line moved a bit more. Now I was about fourth in line. The woman with the over-active children had left leaving the greeting cards in disarray, stuffed animals spilling out of the shelves, and priority mailing boxes scattered about the floor. I was tempted to straighten up a bit if I wasn’t worried I would lose my place in line while doing it. The line behind me was as long as the line in front of me had been when I came in.

A clerk came in and opened another window. Now there were three out of five windows opened. When my turn finally came I walked up to the window, had my package weighed, answered all the questions with no about hazardous material and did I want to sent it at a faster rate, paid my money and left within three minutes. I have no idea why it took everyone else so long to do their business and get out of there. I had been in that line for twenty-five minutes! This is exactly why I procrastinate about going to the post office and my package didn’t get mailed earlier in the week! Walking back through the lobby, I noticed a man using the machine – the one I had assumed was out of order -to mail his package. If I had only known! Now home to write some more!


About Elle Knowles

Elle Knowles lives in the Florida Panhandle with her husband and off-at-college-most-of-the-time son. She has four daughters, one son, and eleven beautiful grandchildren. 'Crossing the Line' is her first novel. The sequel 'What Line' is a work in progress. Recently published is Coffee-Drunk Or Blind - a nonfiction story of homesteading in the Alaska wilderness with her parents and four siblings, told through letters by her mother and remembered accounts from the family.

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