The small, bucolic, yet highly sophisticated valley (population 5000) where I live, boasts three post offices, all of which are practically registered epicenters of stupidity. During the holidays in particular, the amount of idiocy engaged in by postal workers is akin to the energy necessary to operate 23 cell phones on the planet Pluto. That’s no small feat. Postal employees make it a habit to keep one worker behind the counter per every twelve patrons in line, keeping employee #2 within view, reading the local paper or braiding her hair. By the time I reach the counter, I’m ready to pull the safety pin out of the nearest hand grenade.
Much to my surprise, I encountered an entirely different post office last week.
I entered our main branch (I know it’s the main one because it’s open for limited hours on Saturday, and it sports its own parking lot with four whole parking spaces). The moment I stepped inside, I was immediately sucked into a Hallmark film.
The place seemed brighter, out of the ordinarily cheerful, surprisingly welcoming. I looked around. There was a glow about the room despite the same drab walls, same dull interior cement floor. Granted, I was pleased that only one customer stood between the postal worker and me, but not pleased enough to hallucinate. Then it hit me. It was Chris, the jolly and exultant, late twenties or so, government issue employee.
His smile was so bright that he could have lit all the candles on an octogenarian’s birthday cake. He looked so happy, so ecstatically jovial, that he’d made the place come alive.
My turn came early because the lady before me kindly offered to step aside to an empty counter to properly lick the hundred or so envelopes she planned to mail. Typically, post office patrons do no such stepping aside, but do all their licking, lamenting or labeling right there at the counter making all behind them wait. I knew it had something to do with Chris and his luminous smile. I do not exaggerate. His winning grin and benevolent words could have made the moon weep for joy.
At the counter, I told Chris that I needed postage for my oversize envelope #1 as well as the self addressed large envelope #2 folded inside #1 which was to be sent back to me by the recipient. Proper procedure is to weigh each separately because envelope #2 usually weighs less on the return trip. Chris only weighed envelope #1, holding his smile of contentment and sheer delight the whole time and muttering sweet sayings. How could I quibble over a quarter or two with the very personification of bliss? It was easy to overlook his negligence and mild stupidity. I dared not rain on his happiness.
When I returned to my car, I told Husband about Chris. Husband asked,
“You mean that big, fat guy?”
“Was he fat? Maybe pleasantly plump…”
Chris’ cheery demeanor blinded me to his physical and/or mental imperfections. He encouraged me to overlook and treat stupidity with patience. If every person in our society was benevolent and grateful or ready to, in a small way, reciprocate the kind feelings shown him or her, then this place would be quite pleasant for all of us.