Christmas Mania

This time of year can be emotional and stress provoking. The business of making our gift list, checking it twice, planning Christmas parties, baking cookies, purchasing food, making ornaments, buying and wrapping presents and, horror of horrors, going to the post office to mail packages far and wide to friends and relatives.

Each year the dreaded trip to the post office to mail cumbersome packages, evokes feelings of loathing. My recent encounters with the United States Postal Service were no different. I chose a post office that is usually not crowded, a unique phenomena at this time of year. I arrived promptly at 1:30 PM, opening time after the lunch break. Balancing three bulky packages, I struggled through the front door and was disappointed to see the postal windows closed with a sign saying it would reopen at 2:15PM. After mumbling a few choice cuss words, I made my way back to my car, reloaded the packages and headed to the next post office.

Total deja vu as I again gathered the packages and made my way through yet another front door to be greeted by an all too familiar scene…a long line of similarly afflicted humans waiting to be called forward to the one, yes only one clerk that was seemingly oblivious to the length of the waiting line and our mutually shared anxiety and stress.

So, I dutifully waited my turn and was pleasantly entertained by the young woman directly in front of me. She was the epitome of an efficient packaging artist in its purest form. I watched fascinated as she gathered mailing envelopes and proceeded to fill out all necessary forms, recycled mailing labels into graphic art with the names of the recipients beautifully arranged and decorated and then trimmed with her own personal pair of scissors that she fished from the depths of her voluminous purse. She inserted her gifts into the package, made several adjustments to her liking and was still working diligently on her project when I decided to bail from the line and take my chances using the self-service machine.

Machines are always a challenge for me. The pressure is on when you step up to that area of the post office. There were two people in front of me and before long there were others behind us. My anxiety level climbed as I moved closer to my turn at weighing and printing the postage labels for my packages. These machines intimidate me and I frequently seek a young person to assist me but today I was very lucky. Another post office person was circulating in the area assisting people as needed. And boy did I need it. It wasn’t difficult but it is time-consuming  because there is a lot of reading and selecting throughout the whole process. After completing the entry for three packages, the machine told me that my credit card would only allow two self-service transactions so the whole third package was not completed. I ended my session and began again to repeat the information for my third package and reentering my credit card. In essence I was fooling the machine and my bank card, but by this time I was determined to complete the task of getting those blasted packages out of my possession and into the post office delivery schedule so they could begin their journey to their respective destinations.

The entire time I was in mortal combat with the mailing/package machine, I could feel the many eyes of other frantic patrons behind me burning into my back urging me onward to a speedy conclusion of my encounter. With the third package successfully labeled with the appropriate postage tag, I tried to put it in the mail chute and it wouldn’t fit! I carried it to the circulating  clerk who assured me she would get it to the mail room for me. Each step was challenging.

My parting words to her as well as to my fellow postal patrons were ” I am totally exhausted and feel like I have just birthed a 10 pound baby!” I survived my post office mission, but unfortunately I have two more packages to mail so Monday I’ll be repeating the annual battle to send gifts to loved ones as an acknowledgement of how very thankful I am to have them in my life.



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