Twenty Minutes at the Post Office

flag memThe post office had a longer than usual wait time today.  As I became another link in the chain, I couldn’t help but notice a young man with a guitar strapped to his back.  He had apparently stepped out of the boredom line to look through cards that were for sale.  As he returned to his spot, he commented on my Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt and went on to explain to me some of the group’s history.  I introduced myself, as did he, while offering his hand.  Rusty.  He looked like a Rusty. Long wavy hair and a beard to match.  As another man approached the opposite side of the table where we stood, Rusty offered him his ink pen to write out his envelope.  The man ignored him.  Rusty offered again saying he had tried that pen and it did not work well.  The man brushed him off.  No eye contact.  Rusty said he understood….”must be the long hair and all”. Then he asked this rather muscular man, “You gonna go do push-ups when you leave here?” No response.  “Curls?” This time there was a response.  Words escalated quickly as I was standing between the two of them. No one else in the place spoke a word.  Just wide eyes.  As envelope man joined the end of the now even longer line, Rusty turned his phone to some mellow music for all to hear.  I was glad, as it broke the silence. And why is there no music in the post office anyways? 

I  waited just a moment and then asked Rusty about the guitar in the gig bag.  He responded  promptly and proudly, taking it out and playing a bit.  Oh yes.  I could see and feel the eyes of the folks on both of us.  I didn’t care.  As a mom of musicians I know that there is nothing more calming than playing your own song.  It was almost Rusty’s turn in line so he put his guitar away and  told me about some new songs he’d just recorded.  He then handed me his phone so that I could listen while he went on to the clerk.  Clear crisp notes from an acoustic guitar. Bluesy.  Mellow.  His words were of a wandering soul. But now it was my turn, so I returned his phone and thanked him.

I couldn’t help but overhear his conversation at the window next to mine.  Rusty needed two pieces of tape for his packages. She couldn’t oblige unless his paid more and purchased priority  postage.  He told her he was a disabled Veteran and that he’d fought for her freedom.  She said those were the rules.  “Rules that you could bend if you wanted to”, he responded.

My transaction was now completed so I  stopped and turned to Rusty to say goodbye and to wish him well.  He thanked me as he called me by name.

I sat in my car for a few minutes before driving away.  I thought of how lonely one can feel in a room full of people.  Yes, it did seem Rusty might have had a chip on his shoulder, but not one person in that place knew his story. Or mine. Or us theirs, for that matter.  But a kind word can turn the heart.  And this scenario could have been a positive one for all today, if only….   I hope to spend my days turning hearts.

Hang in there Rusty.  And thank you for your service.

Be nice to people. ♥

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23 Responses to Twenty Minutes at the Post Office

  1. What would it have cost that postal worker to give up a couple of strips of tape? I hate that kind of rigid officiousness. And the snooty envelope man…. Sounds like there were a couple of rude people in that room. Interesting, what you see and hear in a crowded room. Sad though, that some people are so lacking in human kindness and just plain good manners.

    • Not sure why the attitudes were as they were on this day. I just hope the young man didn’t feel totally defeated. That was my concern. A smile and a kind word or gesture can change one’s entire day.

  2. And just in time for Valentine’s Day!

  3. thatssojacob says:

    There is a certain post office near my parents’ place where every single person who works there is ruder than the next. The line is always out the door since it’s easy to get to and has plenty of parking, but I’d rather go out of my way to one of the many other post offices in the area even if it means paying for parking or sitting in traffic because they’re just that bad.

  4. I have many times wrapped up gifts etc on either a newsagent or post office and no-one has ever refused to give me two pieces of tape. I found that clerk’s attitude unbelievable!

  5. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. 13:2 ❤
    Diana xo

  6. And people wonder why the post office is in such financial turmoil. They did it to themselves. We have the same negative experiences at mine and it only drives people to conduct more business online.

  7. jmgoyder says:

    What a beautiful and thought-provoking post. Hard to believe the postal worker couldn’t spare some tape. Oh how stupid the rules can be. You have a wonderful heart.

  8. dderbydave says:

    Well written post. Thank you.

  9. Hi Paula,

    What an interesting story! You paint a vivid character sketch that makes us think about the people we interact with every day.
    That exact same thing happened to my friend at our local post office and I was so embarrassed and appalled. She was visiting from Michigan and I was very embarrassed when she was forced to buy a whole roll of tape when she got up to the window. Other clerks there have always been so much kinder–they help people when they don’t quite understand the rules, but this guy sends them home to re-pack their boxes or to the end of the line to re-do a label. Perhaps he has troubles at home that no one can know of, and if so, I am sorry for him. But when I go to the post office, l wait an extra turn rather than have to do business with him.

  10. I love that you make friends wherever you go, Paula. You don’t judge; you give everyone a chance. I know this about you. Rusty is obviously a passionate person. How nice he shared his music with you. Yes, it would serve everyone well to be nice to one another.

  11. Great story, Paula… you had my wondering at first if it was fiction… but I could tell it was true-life… it was very well written 🙂

  12. tchistorygal says:

    What a beautiful, but sad story. Wow, what a cold shoulder people gave him. He sounds like a very positive person considering how down on his luck he is. Not being able to afford postage – well it can cost a lot, but generally most of us have enough to mail what we want to mail, or we wouldn’t be mailing it. Glad you met him.

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