I had one of those notices from the IRS saying they wanted something. It doesn’t take AP Chemistry to know you respond to those letters. I wasn’t home when the super serious ‘you must respond or else we will take your kidney and leave you in a bath tub filled with ice’ letter arrived so I stopped at the post office to pick it up.
Stopping at the post office is not something anyone wants to do. It feels archaic, sort of sweet but mostly time consuming. Sure, I enjoy watching the packages you have carefully wrapped in boxes and then more boxes and then mismatched tape. You can see well-worn love all over those deliveries going from here to there.
Wherever your there is.
It could have been quaint. Well, it was quaint until the man next in line lost his last marble. It wasn’t pretty. There was one postal worker at the counter. She had to be 87 thousand years old and seemed very polite. I don’t think there’s much to get riled up about at 87. She noticed a couple of us in line picking up certified letters and asked if she could grab them all at once.
(Well I don’t mind if you do.)
The guy next in line flipped. He looked at everyone else in line and yelled, “Does she not see me? I’ve been standing here for ten minutes and she skips to you? What do we pay these people for? I need stamps and they get to go ahead of me?” It would have been fine if he ranted and finished but it continued. He had this smoldering ‘I might come back and shoot this place up’ sort of look about him. He growled under his breath. He shook his head but not in the to-yourself way. He shook it with force in the look-at-me way. Then he stomped his 50-something right foot.
An absolute tantrum. It was fabulous.
I looked at the other people and wondered why no one said anything to him to calm him down. There had to be about seven or eight of us in line. No one said anything. Maybe they were scared about his reaction. Maybe they thought he would lash out at them like he did at the postal worker. His shaking head and huffs continued and then I said, “You’re okay. No one is cutting in line in front of you. She’s just doing her job and we’re all getting served. No one is in front of you.”
It’s always the person that speaks up that gets shot first, huh? I pondered that even before opening my mouth. Did you know the emergency exit signs are not clearly marked in the post office?
We’re not in days, in moments, where discord leads to discussion and then reasoning together. Snips turn to snark which turns to deep sarcasm which turns to anger and outbursts. Did he feel invisible not just during that moment at the post office but invisible in life? Had someone ignored him to the point of despair? I wondered this as he walked to the exit, mailed his few letters with new angry stamps, got on his bike and snarled at me one last time.
And as I walked out, the lady behind me gently grabbed my arm and thanked me for saying something. Somebody has to say something, right? Just like somebody needs to stop when a person has a flat tire or when you’re the first person that sees the car accident or when a child is being bullied or when someone drinks the last of the milk.
Are you saying your somethings?