I spend a lot of time in post offices throughout the country. So I am a bit of a post office connoisseur and it’s part of a ritual that I really look forward to and love. After a gigging weekend there’s the victory meal, the victory drive back to wherever I am staying and then there’s my Monday morning post office routine where I send my hard earned cash home.
I love the old downtown post offices in the historic buildings made with lots of wood and big windows. I love getting my bank deposit out, adding up the money, turning it into a cashiers check and filling out the envelope on a big table off to the side.
It’s a beloved ritual that I relish, sadly sometimes it is completely denied.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a beautiful old historic town. Lots of lovely old houses and narrow streets with character. My hosts informed me that the post office is just down the street and I highly anticipated my visit there the next morning.
But we are in the Northeast where simple tasks are 10 times harder to complete then anywhere else-lest you forget!
Take parking... there is none. But I kept my spirits up as I drove round and round the one way streets and finally parked a few blocks away. A quarter buys you 10 minutes and I only had two, the silly southerner that I am. But it’s early and surley I can get in and out of there in 20 minutes. Right? Ha ha ha. The line was from the counter to the door.
Fine, I’ll just find another post office! I got out my handy dandy smart phone and one is found 15 minutes away and it looks like it even has a parking lot. Take that.....You crazy busy post office you! Triumphantly I drive to my new found post office only to be met with disastrous results. It's not a public post office, it's a “sorting hub”, I am informed by a friendly employee who also informs me that I am driving the wrong way.
Now I’m just pissed. I storm back to the downtown post office, park even farther away at a credit card meter and walk back in full combat mode. The line is now twice as long and I am not even going to talk about how complicated the meter was to figure out.
In any giving post office line, these people can be found: an elderly person who is there to buy one stamp, a mother with an unruly child, a really impatient business man on his cell phone and a person who doesn’t understand how to mail things. There is an awkward silence and usually just one person at the counter and you stand and stand and stand. By the time you are waited on, you are just worn down to a nub of a human being and you take whatever scolding the surly employee may give to you.
Later on in the tour I found myself once again looking for a post office and once again being denied. I was heading from Connecticut back to Maryland and took the long way through New Jersey. Every stop I made, I checked google maps for a post office. Most were too far away or too complicated to get to. I found one in a small town and even found a parking spot. But when I walked in, people were actually slumped over and sleeping in line. I got back in the car.
With defeat after defeat I pulled off and had lunch. Now here’s where it got really tricky. All I had to do was turn right out of the parking lot and head back to the highway. But that would have been too easy. We are still in the Northeast as you recall, and out of the parking lot there was a sign that said; “No Right Turn”. Exasperated I had to turn left and went down a road with sign after sign saying; “No Left Turn”. By this time I am panicking. I am driving in the wrong direction, I am running behind schedule, I need to find a post office and I am stuck on a road with no turns!!!!
This goes on for an eternity. Finally after I don’t know how many miles, I am in a town and there is a place with a parking lot with a huge old building where I can turn left. I pulled in and looked up to see what building it was and it was the post office.