Friday, July 31, 2009

The Post Office - A Lesson in Patience

A few days ago I ran into the post office to mail a couple of cards. One of said cards was square, which means I had to pay for additional postage. There was a short line, so I took my place and waited.

And waited.

With only one employee behind the counter, the line got longer and longer as the next customer stepped up to the counter with a tote bag full of packages to be weighed, stamped and paid for. The gentleman in front of me huffed and puffed, sighing loudly and shifting his weight back and forth dramatically. The woman behind me tapped her pen on the table beside us until she finally called out to another employee who was clearly working on something other than customer service, "Can I just find out if I have enough postage on this?" The employee smiled and calmly instructed her on how to use the self-mailing station to weigh and determine the postage for her package. In the meantime, several customers entered the building, looked at the line and promptly turned around to leave.

The line was not that long. There were about four people behind me and three in front of me. From the time I stood on the line to the time I walked out the door, about 10 minutes had passed. And yet from the patrons' responses, you would have thought we were waiting for hours.

I admit, my first reaction in seeing the line and the one poor employee standing behind the counter, was a silent groan. But in the waiting I had time to take a few deep breaths, plan my dinner, and mentally check off my to-dos. When it was my turn, I stepped up to the counter, smiled at the woman helping me, paid for my extra postage and went on my way, thankful for ten minutes in which I didn't have to do anything.


Anonymous said...

This is lesson I desperately need to learn. And the ironic thing is that my life is so hectic, by all logic I should be grateful for any time I have to myself to just BE and do nothing but breath, let my mind do what it may. But sadly I'm usually the one looking at my watch, getting antsy about the time.... Maybe its because of the hectic thoughts spinning and worrying I'll run out of time - but there is nothing that one can do about the wait, right? Better to seize that moment and make something of it, time to be with myself.
I'll remember your post the next time I am waiting.

Kayris said...

On the rare cases I actually go to the PO, I have my kids with me. And if you think people huff and sigh over waiting, you should see how they roll their eyes when they see two little kids standing in line. Even when they are both being quiet! One time, the old man behind me asked me what kind of underwear I was wearing. This was after I'd been in line for 15 minutes. Apparently, he passed the time by staring at my butt.

Ami said...

livinginalocalzone - Believe me-this doesn't happen all the time. I have my days where I just need to get where I'm going and anything standing in my way (think traffic, long lines, ANYTHING) gets a big old huff or a rant from me. I try to recognize it and let it go, but it doesn't always work that way. :)

MommyK - I can imagine the thought of kids in a line makes uptight people all that much more uptight. It seems the "dirty old man" stereotype is alive and well. I find it's the older men who are the most crass...I think it has something to do with an entitlement of age. They think they can say and do whatever they want because they've earned the right by living so long. :)

Phoenixvillian said...

Ha, oh, I feel you on this one. And have my own trip to the post office slated for today - for my entire lunch period.

Ami said...

Holly - Very smart to plan plenty of time! Good luck!

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