Thursday, June 24, 2010

Minnesota or bust

Every once in a while, I have a package in the custody of the USPS go AWOL. I'm not sure what they do with them, but I push 'em across the counter and they go into the great beyond. I'm also a firm believer that some transactions with customers are just cursed.

So I had a cute little swimsuit pattern that wanted to go to Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. Where it is now, I'll never know, but apparently it changed its mind en route, because it's not been seen again. After a couple of emails between me and my customer, I decided it best to send her a new copy. And in trying to really have my act together, decided to mail it tonight.

Now, I live in Indianapolis, not too far from downtown, where there is a self service post office that's open 24/7. I try to go down there whilst the light is still out, but I tend to be there in the evening nonetheless, so I always try to take a male presence with me, like Dan. Or Thomas. Or even Seth. Well, tonight, Dan was otherwise occupied, so I decided to go by myself -- something I haven't done in a long time. It's kind of nice to have a second person there when you're mailing a lot of stuff, because it gets a little cumbersome otherwise. Dan and I (and Seth, for that matter) have a system down that goes like clockwork, so we get in and out pretty fast. There was even one night where we had a little tutorial with a newbie who was mailing a ton of stuff.

Well, the system went out the window tonight, because I was flying solo. No biggie, right? Well, I put the first package on the scale. Went through the steps, all the way to the stamp coming out. Only the stamp didn't come out. Just one little corner of it stuck out -- not enough to grab on to. The dilemma.......if I did it wrong, the stamp was going right back into the machine, to the tune of $8.50 or so. So, I did the prudent thing and used my credit card to try to coax it loose. That promptly sent it in further, so I got out my work ID, which is thinner than the credit card. POOF! The whole stinkin' stamp disappeared.

This was right about the time that a man walked in and gave me a very strange look. Now keep in mind, I am not a small person, and I am pale as a ghost. I was standing there in my ratty old short white shorts, a zip front short sleeve hoodie (new, at least), and Dan's flip flops, with my iPod ear buds in my ears, listening to Green Day at full tilt. And I was dancing, more than a little, because who can listen to Green Day and not dance? (Note to self, perhaps dancing caused the inverted stamp. Don't dance at the post office.) Anyway, said gentleman asked what was going on, as he put his mail into the box. He already had stamps. He suggested that I put a key in the machine and maybe that would work.

I think he wanted me to die, because I'm thinking that putting a metal key into an electronic device while it's plugged in is not the best idea. Maybe he was a serial killer. Or a cannibal.

I was seriously unhappy because the machine wouldn't let me cancel the transaction, which meant I was charged almost $9, but I couldn't get the stamp I paid for. Finally, in walked a guy in a security outfit, who asked what was going on. He got out a penlight and somehow got the machine open enough to free that stamp, then wandered off. I was pretty sure he was the stereotypical "friendly" security guard from the movies, who comes back and kills you and carts you off in pieces, but he never came back. He had a bag of chips in his back pocket. Maybe he waits till after dinner to kill people, but he got me my stamp, so I was happy. Even if I wasn't dancing at this point.

One package down. Next, I had to mail a package that contained Jill's birthday presents to her boyfriend (YAY! Apparently she's not going to be a cat lady after all!). That went without a hitch. Whew! Maybe I'd get home in one piece after all, but it was getting dark and I wanted to get the heck outta dodge. Next package was one pattern, going to a person in Burbank, California who, from what I can tell, does indie films. Maybe it's for a movie, I don't know, but the package deserved its own plot, because once again, the eject button wasn't working and the stamp didn't bother to emerge at all. And a metal door flipped down in front of where it was supposed to come out, like some kind of force field that says "not tonight, lady." The monitor assured me that I was not being charged for the transaction, despite the fact that the machine was now out of order. Good God. And I still hadn't mailed the Minnesota swimsuit that was the whole reason for me being at the post office in the first place.

I was mulling over my dilemma when in walked a lady wearing jeans shorts, a decent tan, and orange Crocs. I got no small amount of satisfaction in knowing that at least if I was gonna die, I wasn't gonna die in orange Crocs. And I was gonna die listening to Green Day. I could see the headline: "Braless albino woman dies, clinging to self serve machine, while 'Do You Know the Enemy played on her iPod." Irony. Yep, that'd be me. I told the orange shoe lady that the machine said it was now out of order, because I was trying to be helpful and not let her go through the problems I'd had.

She walked right up, got two sheets of stamps, then looked at me like I was an American Idiot, and strode outta the post office. Good heavens. I decided to try again, this time starting with that swimsuit pattern, against which I was planning to win the war. That package was going to Minnesota, come hell or high water. I got all the way through the process and held my breath. The stamp came out with just enough of a corner sticking out that I could grab it.

I put it on the wrong envelope.

Had to go back and print another stamp for Minnesota, then figure out how to get the postage right for the other package without paying for the whole thing. I only needed 17 cents, for heaven's sake, because I'd already put $2.07 on the envelope. I had to give myself a tutorial on how to print partial postage from the machine, but I finally got it done and went out of there as fast as I could, because I really just wanted to get home. Got to the car right as a man got out of his car across the parking lot. The now dark parking lot. Be careful, I was thinking, because although I'm not a truly paranoid person like some of my friends, I am careful. I was thinking to myself, "he's on crutches, and Ted Bundy used to use crutches to rope 'em in, so wouldn't that be crazy if he is faking it. And I don't have my cell phone, so there will be no pinging of my phone to trace my lifeless body when I'm lying in a ditch somewhere."

I probably need therapy.

It was right about then that I realized that the guy was probably about 80. He was also missing a leg. Yep. Legless serial killer. I wonder if that would be a first. And I wonder -- could Ted Bundy have figured out a way to fake an amputation? I was still pondering that one when I cranked up the Gaga and took off for home.

Next time I need to go to the post office, someone's going with me. And let's hope that the swimsuit makes it to Minnesota, cause I'm not sure I can go through this mess again.