I was in line at the post office, the United States Postal Service. Not the UPS Store. Not a private mailing service. Not a full-service establishment with all the mailing supplies a heart could desire. The. United. States. Postal. Service.
The guy at the front of the line wanted to mail a very large framed photograph covered in glass. He didn’t have any bubble wrap. He didn’t even have a box.
The post office was not my usual post office. I had left my neighborhood to see a dentist in another part of town. I must have been in a rich neighborhood because there were a couple of postal service employees approaching the people standing in line and making sure they had any forms filled out correctly and directing them to the kiosk in the lobby if their needs could be met there.
When it was Mr. Picture Frame’s turn to approach the counter, he stayed in line and told the next available postal worker that he needed a box. And bubble wrap. She glared at him incredulously. The woman trying to help cutomers in line told the woman at the counter that another woman was looking for bubble wrap for him. The woman at the counter shrugged and called up the next customer ready to do business.
Then it was my turn. The woman working at the window I went to was probably in her mid 30s, Latina, and butch dykie cute. Her dark hair was cut short in back, but the front was longer and slicked back into a wavy, subdued pompadour. She had a tattoo behind her left ear, and her name was Andrea.
As Andrea was helping me, Mr. Picture Frame set his item (now encased in hot pink bubble wrap) on the counter on the other side of her and told her that he’d be right back. I guess he expected her to make sure no one stole it, or maybe he just wanted to insure it wasn’t discarded.
Andrea told him someone had left a bunch of bubble wrap and went to the corner to retrieve an armful for him. When she tried to give it to Mr. Picture Frame, he said he didn’t need it, that what he needed now was a box. He said, “She’s got something,” a couple of times, but I still have no idea to whom he was referring.
At that point, I broke my own rule of non-involvement and called over to Mr. Picture Frame, “You should use some of her bubble wrap too.” I didn’t say it out loud, but I wouldn’t trust the US Postal Service with a large piece of glass covered in only one layer of bubble wrap, especially bubble wrap with only little dinky bubbles.
As Mr. Picture Frame moved away from the counter (I have no idea where he was going), I whispered to Andrea, “Did he think he could just stick some stamps on it and slip it in the mail slot?”
She rolled her eyes at me and said, “You would not believe what I see here.”