Wiper blades chased cold rain drops from my windshield as I pulled up at the post office.
Do not get upset, I told myself. Even if the postal workers make you pay everything over again.
As I confessed in a recent email, the whole thing was my fault for sending a box of packages via the wrong service. Now, I was afraid they would make me re-buy postage for all of the packages.
Maybe things would work out if I got one of the women postal workers. For whatever reason, I seemed to have better experiences with them than the men at the Elkhart branch. I remember one man telling an old lady that he wouldn’t help her with her package, but maybe the lady at the next window would.
Furthermore, I had my hands full. In the cold rain, I put Anina in my baby carrier. When she was all strapped in, I was just able to grasp the plastic carton of packages without squishing her. Yes, a woman postal worker was a priority on this cold, wet day with a baby in tow.
“Got everything okay?” A pleasant young man had hopped out of a vehicle next to mine, and was eyeing my situation.
“I think so!” I said. But it yet remained to be seen if everything would be okay or not.
“My daughter is two years.” He nodded at Anina. “I miss those days.”
Alas. When I got up to the head of the line, I got called to the window of one of the older men of the post office. I explained my predicament, hoisting the box of packages onto the counter.
“Yes, you get credit for what you already paid.”
Whew! Great relief.
He plopped a package on his scale and tapped his screen.
“I’m so sorry about this,” he said. “You owe about three cents per package.”
He began going through the packages, printing off little white rectangles with $0.03 on them.
“This isn’t worth my time,” he said.
“I know, I’m sorry,” I said.
“No, I mean, they should have just sent them,” he said. “I’m sorry for you. I’m glad your baby is so good.”
Wait. Did the male post worker just apologize to me twice? For something that was my fault? Slightly dumbfounded, I assured him I was just glad I wasn’t being charged more.
As the stack grew less, Anina starting squirming and we walked to the window to watch a train passing in the rain. I picked a few decorative bubble envelopes from the shopping wall and added them beside the packages.
“Are you Mennonite?” the man asked. “You’re such a pleasant person.”
I nearly fell over. I hate to admit it, but I’m rarely accused of being pleasant. I suppose I’m in too much of a hurry most of the time, although Anina has helped me to slow down.
When we were finally almost ready to go, I picked up the bubble envelopes and said to Anina, “Maybe we can use these as an umbrella!”
The man looked at me with concern. “Are you really going to use those as an umbrella? I can get you something.”
This was the final blow to my theory about the grouchy men at the post office. I have no idea what he was planning to “get me.”
“No, that’s fine,” I said. “The car is just right outside.”
(The bubble mailers did make a great umbrella for that distance.)
Well, the day was not over. Late that same evening, I pulled into a sketchy Elkhart gas station for fuel. I was also quite interested in getting bananas since we were out. Anina was with Marnell.
I saw people standing around inside, as if they were waiting on the rest of the gang so they could carry out their nightly crimes. Because of road construction, the gas station was relatively empty, with no other cars at the pumps, and I felt slightly unnerved.
But in I went. I picked up a couple of items, then asked the cashier if they sold bananas. He was a young man, with a gang member persona.
He looked to his right into a small back room, as if bananas may have arrived by Fed Ex while he had been looking the other direction. I really didn’t understand the look. Clearly, either they sold bananas or they didn’t.
Well, no. Not so simple.
“No,” he finally said. “We don’t have bananas.”
“That’s okay,” I said, a bit sad, but proceeded to pay for my other things.
“Do you like the green ones or the yellow ones?”
I looked at him, confused. How could this matter, if there were none?
“Oh, either,” I said.
“Well, I brought some for myself.” He went into the side room. Aha! That’s what he had been looking at. Calculating whether he dare part with his own personal stash.
What on earth?
“Oh, you don’t have to,” I said.
But he was resolute, and added two bananas to my bag.
I’m not sure what inspiration to draw from these two people I thought would be sketchy who turned out to be exceptionally kind. I guess the moral of the story is to have a very bad reputation and then… Never mind.
Or this. My neighbor Mary has been telling me all these years: only God knows a person’s story fully. I can make assumptions about people, and think I know them.
But, I might be wrong. I will probably be wrong.
If you need me, I’ll be eating a banana!
I am planning to offer sale prices the weekend before Thanksgiving, after we return from a planned trip to Wisconsin. More later on that!
Don’t forget to contact me if you had to pay postage on any of the packages I sent out, so I can refund you. My deepest apologies for the inconvenience if you did!