(See These Jingle Bells? Replace one of the letters in “bells” and you know what I mean…)
We were 16 deep in the Post Office line, with me seriously wondering “Why don’t they ever have an Express Line in these places?” I mean, here I was, standing in 8th. place, with two little things to mail (but they needed weighing,) while all around me stood people with packages galore.
And then I saw him.
He held an old cellophane Wonder Bread bag, tied off with a twist, and inside it was another package wrapped in aluminum foil. One of the clerks was talking to him, telling him he needed to wrap this in something other than its present condition. The USPS didn’t mail things that looked like they might be explosives in homegrown, terrorist packaging.
He effected ignorance, begging off, with “Oh, really?” “Well, what should I do?”
That’s when “the bizarre” really kicked in. The female clerks at the counter (a droll group who usually evidence little humor) began offering suggestions: “How about one of the envelopes?” “Or those boxes over there”…”One of those should fit.” “What is it, anyway?”
The man answered: “It’s a poppy loaf”…”I baked it myself.” That brought forth the usual female smiles at a man’s feeble efforts at baking. I could tell they thought it cute he was sending the valuable product to a loved one via the US mail.
The rectangular box didn’t quite fit so he made the loaf fit by flattening the bundle.
In the meantime, he was dancing in and out of our line, the object of everyone’s fascination.
He finally decided on another box…went to a side counter to address the envelope, calling out all the time: “Is this where I put the address?” People nodded while the clerks smiled. Everyone was having a really good time…
Everyone except me.
For I was convinced this guy was a really good scam artist. He’d just taken everyone’s attention off the fact he’d jumped the line on any number of occasions, and gotten everyone to help him, in the process. No one but me seemed to notice his diversionary tactics.
And once he was up at the front counter (ahead of me), he never paid, either, for the envelope or the tape they obligingly gave him.
I did hear the clerk ask: “Do you want to send it Express Mail?” (guaranteeing some kind of immediacy.) He pondered that, while I thought: “What the heck…the bread’s fairly well dispatched in another form, with all his prodding. Why bother now with freshness?”
He must have thought the same, for he opted to send it Regular Mail.
At that point (as if rubbing vinegar in the wounds,) he turned and directed everyone to sing “Deck the Halls,” to his conductor arm-motioning. A few in the line behind him (who hadn’t yet realized how manipulated they were) sang a few bars and then quit, while I spoke up and said: “Listen, we all helped you wrap the damned box and address it…Don’t push your luck.”
That brought forth a couple of snickers.
Non-plussed, he went off, whistling, merrily. Once out the door, one of the clerks spoke to the crowd, saying: “What do you think? “Drugs…Red Bull…What was that all about?”
Me? I thought it was just a guy who didn’t want to run around, getting supplies for his packaging, and then wait in long lines, so he said: “I wonder just how much I can work the crowd at the good old Post Office?”
Yeah, I know…”Bah humbug.”
So, “brazen?”….”Bell-sy?” (replace the “e” with that other letter). Am I in the minority of those who suspect? It’s just that I’ve seen his type before and I’m not surprised they’re merry….They never play by the rules the rest of us do…