Friday, March 13, 2009

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gas Leak...

When the Greek historian Herodotus first committed this famous phrase to paper (parchment?) 2500 years ago, words now commonly attributed to the work ethic of our fine US postal service, I guess he didn't take into account a strong postal workers union or NYC's crumbling infrastructure. Back then I suspect a gas leak meant nothing more than the result of one's late-night Hummus binge.

Anyway, the other day I look at the clock, damn it's 2:30, I want to get to the post office; I have a half hour. Now normally I avoid the post office as much as humanly possible but not unlike a post-Hummus Herodotus, sometimes you just have to go. The mundane occasion? Having just finished my taxes, my accountant suggests I mail the paperwork off to the various governmental PO Boxes via Certified Mail to prove to Uncle Sam I actually submitted my tax forms in the event Uncle Sam looses my tax forms en route to Recessionville, USA. Sounds reasonable. I suppose I'd rather visit the post office now than the IRS later. With that thought in mind, I grab the forms and the 3 year old and we're off.

Five minutes later the boy and I score a cherry parking spot in front of the place. With the kid in one arm, the forms in the other and 3 quarters in the meter, we weave through the traffic as we cross the street and land at the door. Looking up we're greeted with a very official looking sign (
pic above) written in gov. issued Sharpie. Gas leak?! In a post office?! Did the postal union lobby for gas powered stamp machines? Were gas fueled, Rumsfeld issued, Anthrax eradicators installed? And don't you just love the use of the word, "possible"? So committal these government types. Like there may or may not be a gas leak but either way Uncle Sam's not sticking around to find out. Mail? What mail? Herodotus who? You're out of luck, Jack; go to the main branch if you have any quarters left. Right away I'm pissed; this is exactly why I hate going to the post office - the almost inevitable clusterfu*k; the very embodiment of the term "going postal". C'mon, I just want to mail my F'in taxes but once again the fear of the unknown, the fear of the "possible" has hindered the progress of this great nation. Back in the car I wonder if there's a color-code for "possible gas leak" over at the Dept. of Homeland Insecurity.

With the clock hands dangerously close to the 3pm hour, we arrive at post office #2 the next neighborhood over. No gas leak here (although it smells as if someone might have taken a leak). We fill out the little green forms, hand over the envelopes, pay the Sam...mission accomplished.

On the way home I reward my son's postal patience with a doughnut from Dunkin' Ds. Now there's an organization with a solid work ethic. I guaranty if they ever had a "possible" gas leak or the roof had blown off that mo' fo' you'd still be able to get a cup of coffee and a plain stick.

Winding the car back home I feel mildly triumphant but the smell of victory is quickly snuffed with an all too familiar fragrance wafting from the 21st century,
back-seat historian with half-eaten doughnut in hand and that relieved look on his face.

Possible gas leak indeed.

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