Horror in the Post Office

April 19, 2011

It is only now, months later, that I am able to get past the horror of what I witnessed and am able to recount the events that unfolded in the local post office. It happened on a day, one not unlike today, tomorrow, or yesterday. For those of you with delicate sensibilities please be forewarned that what I am about to impart may be troubling. If you are about to take nourishment, or have recently done so, I would advise that you exit now.

With what I do I find myself in the local post office three or four times in a week. Despite being a thriving city of sixty thousand we only have two post office branches, each staffed with two or three clerks at any one time. Four to six souls isn’t one heck of a lot to serve sixty thousand people. As you might imagine, the lines can be out the door. Fortunately most of my shipping is within the US via Priority Mail which allows me to skip the lines and use the automated postal machines. Unfortunately, when I’m shipping international or via Express Mail, I must wait in line. So, with both international and Express mail to ship, it was on a very balmy North Georgia afternoon, thunder rumbling in the distance, that I found myself a captive at the back of a very long line. Having no choice I could only stand there, shuffling forward every so often, passing the time daydreaming about nothing in particular. I had not even an inkling that my relative peace was about to be shattered.

One of my pet peeves is with folks who cannot speak on a cell phone without raising their volume setting to obnoxious. It’s as if they are talking into a tin can and string and through force of volume willing their urgent message to some unseen conspirator, one probably just as loud and obnoxious. I suspect that such orators, rather than just having no self-awareness, are really performers of sorts who through some sense of self-importance need for the whole world to know their business. I can’t tell you how many times I have been involuntarily privy to discussions that would ordinarily only be spoken in hushed tones in private places. It seems that there are some who have a real need for John Q. Public to know every detail of their lives. Fortunately, most of the time, we are only treated to meaningless dribble such as when little Tommy’s soccer practice will be finished, or, how many widgets were ordered. That said, there was once one fellow who loudly announced for all to hear, in a booming pretentious voice, that last year he had made $275,000 and would double that this year, and that anyone who couldn’t also do that was lazy, stupid, and an idiot. Wow, guess who’s the idiot saying something like that in a concealed carry state. At any rate I digress.

So, there I was, a captive at the post office in a line that I knew from experience would be at least 45 minutes long. I had no choice but to accept my fate thinking that it could be worse. Then, suddenly, it was. From behind me, as if a gust of wind at my back, came a female voice, one that could have served as the public address system at Turner Field without amplification. The hair on the back of my neck was not only standing but blowing in the wind. As I looked to those in front of me in line I witnessed a group cringe. This woman’s booming voice made Gideon’s trumpet seem like a kazoo. But, that wasn’t the worst of it, and not by a long shot.

Once the initial shock of her voice somewhat subsided I began, with no choice in the matter, to listen to what she had to say. Her voice wasn’t the sweet Southern one that I hear so often in this neck of the woods but a raspy and nasally one that might be heard on a sitcom or cartoon. She made Fran Drescher sound like Julie Andrews. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Warning, this is where it gets bad.

“Uh-huh, uh-huh, so how do you feel?”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh, so how’s your flow.”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh, mine’s just like that…”

And then, to the ultimate horror of us all of us, unable to deny the subject matter, the woman went on to describe, in detail, her menstrual flow. Remember, I have warned you several times that this wasn’t going to be pretty. But yes, she described in painstakingly graphic detail its exact nature, duration, and composition. Okay, I accept that this particular bodily function is a wonderful marvel of nature, but to have it described in such a manner in such a place, blaringly loud, was tantamount to sitting in the front row at a slasher film. This woman spared us no detail. All up and down the line I could see the back of people’s necks as red as their faces must have been. I looked behind the counter and there was poor Johnny, an ace of a postal clerk, with a look of anguish on his face. His eyes were opened wide like a deer in the headlights. Johnny is a soft-spoken Southern gentleman and this woman was his very antithesis. Seeing Johnny standing there, even more horrified than I, I was compelled to see exactly who our tormentor was. So, I turned slowly, and looked.

Right behind me stood a beautiful blonde woman in her mid-forties. I guess that I had expected an entirely different revelation, but there she was, a real stunner, dressed in tennis whites. I tried not to gawk. Then, she again began to speak.

“So, did you go to the doctor?”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh, me too, I also go to him, isn’t he great?”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah, my examinations are the same.”

Okay, at this point I’m thinking “no way she’s going to…”

And then she did. As she began her final assault upon or senses and sensibilities I looked over at Johnny who was now as white as a sheet. The expression on his face was as if he was facing an oncoming fifty foot wall of water. And yes, as you might have guessed, this woman went on to describe her gynecological exam, every doggone detail, with no detail too small to omit. I have been married to my wife for twenty-five years and until that moment I had no idea of what went on. By this time Johnny had finally retreated into the back, replaced by a “next window” sign. I can’t say that I blame him. Not one bit.

Mercifully there were only three people left in line in front of me. As each customer finished they walked past catching a glimpse at the woman, quickly looking away as if they might turn into a pillar of salt. I felt more than a bit relieved as I would soon be free. Besides, what more could this woman say that could be any worse?

“Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah, they are really good about canceling appointments. Last time I had to cancel. I had diarrhea.”

You may recall that old line from the ad for the Jaws sequels: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…” Yup, things went from bad, to really bad, to absolute worst. It was at this point that I thought that at any moment the long departed Alan Funt (or some smarmy contemporary version, Bob Saget maybe) would cascade out of the back room with the Candid Camera crew, lights and cameras in tow, announcing that the jig was up and that we’d been had. But no, no lights and cameras, ghost of Alan Funt or even Bob Saget. This was real. And yes, that woman did indeed describe her bout with intestinal distress in even greater detail than before. Thankfully, while she was in mid-flush, I went to the window, her voice receding somewhat as I took care of business. Then, with my business finished, as I headed to the door and sweet freedom, I heard her bellow…

“Uh-huh, uh-huh, I hate it when that happens, it’s so gross…”

Unable to imagine what might be coming next I quickened my pace to a near dash propelling myself through the door out into the Atlanta sunshine. I felt like a drowning man taking a life-saving gulp of air. It was such relief to be free of her. But relief turned to panic as I realized that she would soon be coming out the door and would most assuredly be speaking even more loudly in the parking lot, and about who knows what.

I ran to my Jeep, climbed in, stomped on the gas, and sped off not daring to look back.

Oh, the horror.

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