Someone’s About To Go Postal

, , , , , , , | Working | September 15, 2020

During the lockdown, I’ve been making fabric face coverings and offering them to friends and family. Today, I had two parcels of them that I needed to send to people, and I walked up to the post office and got in line. There was only one window open, attended by a woman, and she was helping a male customer when I arrived, so I expected I wouldn’t be there long.

After a couple of minutes of mental woolgathering, I noticed that the assistant had taken the items that the customer was posting and they were just chatting, which annoyed me a bit, but I thought maybe she didn’t consider only one other person in line enough reason to rush. Almost as soon as I thought this, an elderly couple got in line behind me. The assistant showed no sign of noticing, so I decided to ease the rules of good manners and spend my waiting time listening in on their conversation.

The assistant was telling the man that she and her family all got the spreading illness — she described it as sore throat and sneezing — last year, but they took down and washed all the curtains and shampooed the carpets and were fine after that.

Okay.

Another customer joined the queue. By this point, the assistant was telling the customer that she was the only person who had been working at the post office during lockdown because all of her colleagues had been too scared to come in, and she’d been doing seventy-hour weeks. I’d been to this post office several times during lockdown and had never seen her before; plus, it’s only open forty-five hours a week.

Another two customers joined the queue. The customer at the counter, having clearly spotted a sucker, started giving the assistant the sales pitch for some natural remedies, telling her that taking a spoonful of hemp oil three times a day would protect her from getting the illness. She was clearly buying this nonsense and started telling him about her experiences using some homemade concoction to treat a rash. The man clearly decided he had to call it a day at this point and said goodbye and left. 

Finally, I got up to the counter. I was wearing one of my fabric masks, but it’s one I kept because I made a mistake in sewing it, so the outfacing piece of fabric was the wrong way round, and you could only vaguely see the pattern on it. I told the lady how I wanted to send the parcels and placed the first one on the scale. She didn’t touch her computer — I could see from the reflection in her glasses that she had a social media site open in a small window on her screen next to the window telling her what it says on the scale — but immediately started telling me about how long she’d been at work and how she’d only had one break all day. 

I’m not normally rude, but I’d been standing in line for about ten minutes and my back hurt, so I didn’t respond and just asked her how much the parcel would cost. She didn’t answer; instead, she just told me to put the other one on the scale, and then to pass them both through the slot to her. I did so, and she asked me what was in them. I pointed to my own mask and said, “Some of these masks.”

Her eyes lit up and she started telling me about somebody she saw selling masks in a shop but he coughed so she didn’t buy any. Then, she asked me why the print on the fabric on mine was so pale, and I told her I’d made a mistake and it was inside out. She gave me a coy smile and started telling me that that was my inner self making artistic choices for me, and that actually it was my own form of self-expression. It took a couple of minutes of this before I got a chance to break in and say, “What is that going to cost?”

Again, I’m not normally rude, but I would have been there all d*** day if I hadn’t interrupted.

“I haven’t done that bit yet,” she said, obviously cross. She glared at me silently for about twenty seconds, then pressed a key on her computer and said, “£1.45. £2.76.”

One of the parcels was bigger than the other, so I assumed she’d told me the two prices individually. “What’s the total?” I asked.

“I just told you,” she replied.

“So, £2.76 for both?”

“No. Yes.”

“So… what is the total?”

“Yes.”

It took me four more times asking to get her to tell me — somehow it was £3.11 — and I paid and got out of there. I looked around as I left and there were now eleven people in the queue. Heaven help them all.

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