I think I may be one of the few folks around who loves to go to the post office. My local post office itself is funky in a friendly way, with big paintings of various people receiving mail. There is one of a soldier getting a letter from home, an old man getting mail from his children, a family preparing a package to send off – perhaps to the soldier, and, I think, someone getting a letter from her sweetie, also perhaps the soldier. These are all sort of Norman Rockwell-ish, (but ethnic Norman Rockwell) and in a Norman Rockwell way, make one feel good. The postal crew are an always sociable group, pleasant, knowledgeable, and willing to help – even a bit above and beyond. Sometimes the line is long, and the waiting customers usually seem to bond and help one another endure. The queue ennui is occasionally broken by an outraged client, who simply cannot understand why his ridiculous request, whatever it may be, cannot be acceded to, and who feels that if he just causes enough of a fuss, the postal personnel will break the rules to let him have his way. The other customers silently watch the drama unfold, grateful for the distraction. Then when the disgruntled one finally stalks off, all the other waiting patrons suddenly have a fine topic of conversation.
My earliest post office memories are of going there on Saturday mornings with my father. All our mail, including that for his business, came to the post office, and so every morning he would drive there to get the mail and to buy a San Francisco Chronicle. (This last could not be disturbed until he had finished reading it. He doled it out section by section, and sadly, read the sports section first, then the front page, and then finally funnies.) I was up betimes every Saturday morning so that I could go with him. Occasionally he would buy me a sweet from the blind concessionaire. This was, of course, a special treat. Years later, when Rebecca went with him, he always bought her a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and she thinks of him whenever she eats one now. Hers were not an occasional treats, but an expected dividend. I guess that is one difference between parents and grandparents.
The Twins had told me that I should go the main Seattle post office in Sodo (the industrial area,) but I thought this sounded un-fun, and also I wasn’t quite sure where it was. They rhapsodized about it, it’s great service and the tiny short line when they went -tiny lines despite it being Christmas mail season. The line at my post office was very long, and I needed to go to the Sodo area for something else, so I thought I would give it a go. In my usual negative way, I was sure it would be industrial and unpleasant. Well, it was sort of industrial, but the man who waited on was a dear. He was Asian, and his command of English was not perfect, but his command of postal business seemed to be. After mailing my package (at a huge expense,) I said I would like some cute stamps. “What sort?” he wanted to know. “Probably not Christmas. You are done with that.” He got out three sets, and they were perfect. I was amazed at his prescience. “You picked the very ones I would love. “ “I have felt your mind,” he said. I loved him as well as the stamps he selected. There is just something about a post office that is wonderful.