Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate | KCET
Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate
I am in the post office, middle of the day, mailing a birthday package. There's hardly anyone there when I arrive. I have to find the proper box for my package, one box among many stacked along the wall with various labels--overnight, express, regular. I take my selection to the window. The clerk calculates the postage and I pay it. She pauses, then says, almost to herself, that I could have gotten a cheaper box that would take about the same mailing time. Really? I say fine, I'll get it.
With a new box in hand, I have to wait a bit, behind a couple of several customers who are now starting to fill up the small post office. I get up to the window. The clerk looks at me through the Plexiglas and points. "You're not ready," she says. " You didn't fill out the label. Step to the side, please."
Exasperation is rising in my chest like a sea level. There is no pen to fill out the label, so I search around for one. None. I start digging in my purse, muttering. The line is growing. It strikes me that what was supposed to be a brief break in my work time at home is turning into a project. My project is home, not here, yet I'm being held hostage by the dicta of the post office, by a crowd I didn't expect, by my own ineptitude. I find the pen--aha!--but then have to wrestle with a roll of packing tape that seems to have no beginning or end. I call through the Plexiglas for help from the once-helpful clerk who put me back in line, but no one comes. I've been in here 20 minutes already. I start to feel the lips pulling back from my teeth in a full snarl: the world doesn't work alright, especially in this one, this damn world in Inglewood, everything's broke down, has been for a long time, and everybody's ignorant and nobody comes to help, even when you scream..
I look up to see a couple of people in line behind me staring. One man steps towards me and offers to help me peel the tape with his pocketknife. A woman with a Caribbean-style head wrap studies me with a mix of wariness and concern.
"Sister," she says, "It's going to be alright."
I believe her. I don't believe her. Of course I'm going to get the package mailed. But the world, our world, whatever its redemptions, will stay broken. I can't put the jagged pieces together, and neither can she. She is asking me to let my frustration go for sanity's sake, for mine and hers and everybody else's. A little thing to ask, but the stakes are as big as possible. I don't know that I can.
The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user JohnnyRokkit. It was used under
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