Post-office hell delivers on least heavenly day

-A A +A
By Laura Lewis, Reporter

I don’t like to complain — well, maybe I do. Sometimes I can’t help myself.

The recent day I made one of my rare, debutante appearances at a post office near my home just across the state line was one of those days.

It was a Tuesday morning — drop-dead newspaper deadline day. I should’ve known better. But I really, really wanted to pick up the package for which I had received notification via a pastel slip the postman had left in my South Carolina mailbox the previous Saturday.

I was pretty sure the “certified,” pick-up-in-person-only notice had to do with a certain eBay auction, related to a pair of novelty cat-face shoes from South Korea I had bid on and won. It had taken weeks for these unique imports to cross the ocean. My feet and I wanted to be there to greet them.

“How long could it take to pick up a package at the post office?” I reasoned. I’d even remembered to bring with me and not lose the little slip of postal notice paper. Turning off U.S. 17, my car and I pulled into the P.O. parking lot right on time, at 8:47 a.m.

The first sign of pending encumbrances was the closed gate and small huddle of people waiting behind it just outside the inner office leading to package paradise. A sign announced the post office actually didn’t open until 9.

My fellow customers and I whiled away the ticking minutes tapping our toes to the beat of nothing. Sometime between 9 and 9:02 a.m., a P.O. clerk appeared to push back the divider and herd us inside.

She and her colleague already looked tired. For all I knew, their day had dawned at 6 a.m. sorting behind-the-scenes mail. Maybe they’d run out of coffee and steam. Or maybe they’d done this routine enough times in the past to know what was coming.

As the minutes droned by, I think those of us in the waiting line wore matching expressions.

One confounded customer at the head of the line had brought about two dozen packages that had to be individually weighed, paid for and left in P.O. custody for delivery to Timbuktu. Another man barged ahead of everyone, interrupting the clerks as he asked them about the selection and size of mailing boxes for sale on the adjacent P.O. products racks.

The clerk looked taken aback when the next woman in line announced, “I just want to buy a stamp.”

“Just one?” the clerk asked.

“Yes,” she replied.


I wish my eventual time at the counter could have been so precise. When I finally got my turn, they couldn’t find my prized package.

Akin to what you have to do when you go through the fast-food drive-thru and order something difficult, like a burger and fries, they asked me to step aside and wait while they searched for it.

At 9:30 a.m., after making numerous phone calls (to Timbuktu), the clerk announced she had located my package at the next post office in the next town.

Did I want to come back tomorrow or go and fetch it myself?

In lieu of having to experience déjà vu all over again Wednesday, I opted for the latter.

Somehow, my import shoes and I tippy-toed in to work before lunchtime.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.