Who would like to recreate Debbie’s experience in the Georgetown D.C. post office. She opened a large business P.O. box (for about $300 annually) only to find someone else’s mail in her box, along with her own, every time she checked. When she turned the errant missives in, she worried aloud to the postmaster that some of her mail might have gone similarly missing and been put into the wrong box. She got an earful of righteous indignation that her mail was NEVER misfiled, not ever, not once!
Walking turns the trip into a one-mile exercise loop
Well, if your answer to either question is “not me,” let me suggest that you move to a small town with a nice postmaster. I did. I am glad, too. My daily hike across town is well worth it. With a hint of ingenuity I can turn the walk into a one-mile exercise loop incorporating several steep hills (nature’s StairMaster).
The post office is not the heart of the community nor its social center. That would be the Harbor Café, the year-round local restaurant on Main Street. It might, however, be Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what, or whom, you will find there.
Of course, you will always find the postmaster, in our case a pleasant, gentle, grandmotherly woman with a smile on her face and a cheerful greeting for all. Full disclosure: our postmistress IS a grandmother and she is also the wife of the caretaker for our house. She is typical of locals wearing multiple hats and playing multiple roles. You might get lucky and bump into a friend for a chat or meet a new neighbor and exchange the typically brief Down East greeting, “Nice weathaah” and in response “Aayah, finest kind.”
The postmistress often makes my day
How can the postmistress make your day? Well, it’s always exciting to get the yellow slip telling you that something was delivered which was too big to fit in the post box. This means a trip to the counter and a conversation with her. If anyone is waiting on line the postmistress is all business, but if there is a lull in the hectic pace of her official duties you may enjoy an interesting conversation about local issues.
Of course, the box is usually something for Debbie but occasionally it will be a box miss addressed to one of our in-laws, for example. In this case, the postmistress comments “I know this is for you” and slips the package across the counter into my safe keeping rather than coldly labeling it “Return to sender” and stamping it “Undeliverable” – as would surely happen in D.C.
A useful tip: FedEx will not deliver to a P.O. Box but it will deliver to the post office’s street address. In a small post office, an understanding postmistress holds the package for us.
Do you think your package needs some tape??
On one occasion, just before Christmas, one of our burghers arrived with a cardboard box filled with gifts. It was addressed but it was not sealed. Rather, the top and bottom had been folded shut in the overlapping pattern one might use for storing a seldom-used item in a quiet closet. Our postmistress smiled and with a gentle perplexity (I suspect she has seen it all) asked, “Do you think it needs some tape or would you prefer to send it like that”? For the record, that is NOT what the person at the window would say in D.C.
Small town life has many pluses and fewer minuses. An understanding postal service is a quiet plus. It puts the “us” back into the USPS.
Image credit: “We’ve got mail!” We have to bring the key to open the box. If we forget, the postmistress recognizes us and will go around back and pull out the mail. She makes it clear that it’s an exception (and that it’s against regulations) but she has a smile on her face.