The Post Office

The Contents of The Average HANDBAG……

The thing about average is it’s, well, average…in the middle, neither one thing nor another. That must mean there are extremes at either side. Statistically speaking, an average handbag might contain a purse, phone, hairbrush, lip balm, tiny pointless hand mirror, stray hairclip (only one, no idea where the other one is but I might find it), a sock (don’t ask), one elastic band, a plastic fish and a packet of mints…no wait, inedible mints. Normally, I wouldn’t give it a thought.  I’m not obsessed by handbags or their contents. I don’t have bag envy. It’s just that so many of us carry them. The humble handbag has grown but really, how useful are they?  In a real crisis, I mean, could your handbag save you? I don’t mean a bad hair day or a missed train. A real crisis, like a ‘hold my heels I’m going in crisis.’

The average handbag, not so much, I think.

Then average is just in the middle, ordinary and nothing about this day was average….well, almost nothing.

The Post Office

Queuing. Maybe if the word for it was shorter, the queue would move quicker? It’s 9.30am and of course it’s a training day. It would be a training day and there would have to be one person at the counter. I resist the urge to push past everyone else just to see what would happen. Would the queue police throw me out? Would the bored guy at the counter serve me anyway?

Sigh…shuffle forward.

The TV is showing adverts about the many services the Post Office can offer , as if that will convince anyone the queue is less boring.

Check phone…

Sigh…shuffle forward.

Check phone again…

Sigh…shuffle forward.

The thing about waiting is you soon learn to switch off. You adopt a kind of blank expression, dreamily glancing around without actually looking at anything. At least most people do. Then, I am not most people. I notice things, things other people don’t seem to and I never stop. That is why I’m here. Not here, obviously, but in the post office with the letter. I have to be sure it gets there and the only way to be sure short of hand delivering it, which I’m told, would be a bad idea, is to trust the mail. I do not trust the post-box. It’s painted red and how much more obvious to a would be mail thief can you get?

“You can’t just walk up to number 10 and give the PM a letter! ” younger brother insisted as I left.”Freakshow!”

Intervention from The Parent soon halted the usual argument. I was, I replied, above such things. Today was too important to be lost to a petty squabble with the Younger Brother and he would be grateful that I did care about such things. He would be glad I noticed the big picture in the tiny details.

The Counter guy is trying to explain to an elderly lady that she cannot collect her parcel without ID. She is trying to convince him it is not necessary as she knows who she is and who else would be asking for her parcel anyway? She has a point and the guy looks resigned. I know what resigned looks like. It’s probably the expression I meet most, usually when I’m trying to explain why things are wrong.

Elderly lady is refusing to be reasonable and leave the queue.

Counter guy is calling his manager.

It would be more amusing if I did not have to put up with the distraction of stale energy drinks and Axe body spray. I look round, which is unusual for me but current times require vigilance.  The fedora is pulled down over his eyes and he is staring at his loafers anyway.

“An e-voucher? Who does that?”

I realise he’s talking to me and since he has been given the voucher, the question is, I assume, rhetorical.

“Erm…It’s for your phone?” I venture.

Small talk…in a queue…my worst nightmare…

“Well, yes, I know that!” Energy Drinks replied tartly.

“Excuse me? I’m double parked! Can you get someone else serving here?”

Behind Energy Drinks is a red faced and clearly in a hurry middle-aged woman. Middle-aged. The Parent would not approve of such ageist references. Still, it is true. She has a gnome on her baggy hoody wearing a cheerful grin, unlike it’s wearer. It doesn’t make her look any younger. I must not say this aloud.

“If I get a ticket, I’ll give it to you!” she insists at the top of her voice. ”Just give her the parcel!”

Whilst I doubt the Post Office will pay for her parking ticket, I can appreciate the sentiment. Elderly lady shows no sign of backing down and the manager is now trying to ignore her, moving to another till point.

Shuffle forward…

It’s the small things I notice. Like the fact that there are 374 tiles on the ceiling and 5 of them have holes in them. The floor under the shelves with the envelopes on it has approximately 2 weeks- worth of dust under it, allowing for traffic and variables. None of the envelopes are straight. It should be easy given that they have linear edges but then, the staff clearly have other things to do. They envelopes are a little off, just like the world is. Nothing is correct or as it should be and I seem to be the only one who has noticed.

Perhaps I should explain. Last week, the postman was late. He is never late. When he did arrive, he was not our usual postman. Not so strange, I hear you say but New Postman had no idea where the other one was. He had not arrived for work at all. The Parent turned on the TV and the news was the same as the day before. Younger Brother said it repeats and I was an idiot but it was the same presenter wearing the same tie. They never wear the same tie twice. Newsreaders must have entire wardrobes just full of ties.

Then there was the weekly shopping trip, a trial at the best of times. The Parent almost had to intervene. On a scale of little to no help, the Younger Brother was no help. I have simple needs and I know what I like. Over time, I have learned not to panic when my cereal is out of stock. After all, there is always my usual bread and jam to fall back on. Not this time. In fact, when I had regained my composure, I noticed the lack of supplies in general as well as the untidy shelves. Even the Parent was annoyed. It took several trips around the town to get what we needed, enough to try anyone’s patience.

Whilst alarming, it was not these events which led me to alert the PM in my letter. It was the birds. Robins are certainly territorial. They give the impression that I am intruding on their space and am only just forgiven for doing so. If they were larger, I might have worried. I have spent many an afternoon watching them feeding and barring the odd worm, they usually eat peanuts. They do not usually attack and eat the sparrows, cornering them with precision and determination.

The Parent was too busy to listen and Younger Brother hardly worth conversing with. Whilst I am no ornithologist, such behaviour was surely noteworthy. Weather due to the recent weather or other environmental factors, they had changed.

We do not have any pets since Younger Brother is ‘allergic’ but I am rather fond of cats. There is something in the aloof way they interact which I relate to. They do not want to be alone but do not want to be hampered by dependence either. Naturally, I have seen our local cats fight, hissing and demonstrating their dominance to any usurper of cat territory. I have never seen a pack of cats hunt down a fellow feline and devour it.


“Alright alright, Madame! Just this once, you understand. It’s not our policy.”

“Thank you, dear. That’s very noble of you,” says Old Lady taking her parcel and giving the impression he was only just forgiven.

Next Chapter: The Lock-Down