Posted tagged ‘post office’

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things — not the great occasions — give off the greatest glow of happiness.”

December 11, 2017

Yesterday I finished my chores but did little else. Today I need to send packages and cards, and I’ll do that as soon as I finish here which leaves me the best of the afternoon to decorate the house and tree. I am always ambitious in the mornings.

I’m watching yet another Christmas Carol, this one with Patrick Stewart. Every Christmas it doesn’t matter how many times or how many Scrooges I watch. I still love this story. The Cratchits here are presented poorer than in other films which makes their Christmas feast seem grander with its goose and Christmas pudding. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge and us Christmas in a lighthouse, on a ship and at a coal mine. Scrooge has no words to describe what he sees.

My mother, sister and I saw A Christmas Carol at the Wang in Boston. At the point where Scrooge is as “giddy as a schoolboy” the fire alarm went off, and we had to evacuate the theater. It was a false alarm. I was so very disappointed not to see Scrooge and his total reclamation. I know the ending of A Christmas Carol and I remember much of the dialogue but watching Scrooge open his heart is the best part.

My mother always teased me about my Christmas presents. “Wait until you see what you’re going to get,” she’d say to me every year. It didn’t matter if I was in my 30’s or 40’s. Teasing was part of the ritual. She and I used to buy every Christmas issue of all the magazines. We’d chat about the decorations and the recipes. Some we even tried. I remember her gingerbread biscotti and the bread which looked like teddy bears. One year she made figgy pudding because the song made us wonder what it was. The best gift  my mother gave us was Christmas. I remember making ornaments, frosting cookies, shaking presents and hanging my stocking with much fanfare. I always went to my parents’ house for Christmas, but I always had a tree here and decorated my house. I remember once being asked why I had a tree if I wasn’t going to be here for Christmas. I thought that the silliest question of all.

“The very fact of snow is such an amazement.”

December 8, 2017

Yesterday was the second day of the wrap the presents marathon. I dosed myself with Aleve and by the late afternoon I was ready to go. All of the presents were wrapped by nine then I started clearing and picking up each room. The den is back to its usual clutter. I can start breathing normally again, no more hyperventilation. A few bags and a bunch of boxes were loaded into the car for a future dump run. The dining room is now back to normal. The living room is the only room discombobulated, and it will stay that way for a while. The couch and the chair are filled with bags filled with wrapped gifts, all headed to Colorado. Each bag is labeled with a name. I have to close those bags and staple their tops so I can pack them in boxes I don’t have yet. The post office is on my list today. I also want to finish my cards. It seems my to-do list, despite everything I do, never gets any smaller. I want to start decorating the tree by first putting on lights then moving the tree to its usual spot, in the corner by the hearth, before I add strands of tinsel and ornaments. My house too needs to be decorated. I’m talking all of downstairs, four rooms and a bathroom. Yup, even the bathroom gets a holiday makeover. You need something to look at.

The day is chilly and cloudy. Tomorrow will be cold, in the 30’s, and they’ll be a mixture of rain and snow, maybe 1-2 inches.

When I was a kid, I wanted lots of snow for Christmas. I always thought the whole season revolved around snow. Santa had a sleigh with runners, not wheels. It was pulled by reindeer, natives of cold places like the arctic or the tundra. Santa was completely bundled in a heavy coat, mittens and a warm hat. He wore boots. He was dressed for the cold.

I’d look out the window every night and check for snowflakes. I’d listen to the weather on the radio, and I’d hope to wake up to a wild storm of snow slanted sideways from the wind. Most mornings I was disappointed.

“Always be smarter than the people who hire you.”

July 14, 2017

The windows and doors are all closed. The day is dark, damp and chilly. When I took Gracie out earlier and waited until she was done, I got cold. I was thinking sweatshirt weather. It may rain.

The first summer I ever worked was just after high school. With college in the fall, I had no choice but to get a job. I worked at Woolworth’s in Hyannis, a huge store on Main Street. I had no specific job title but moved from the cash register to counter after counter except for the lunch counter. I spent the most time in the corner where the small animals were housed. My job was to clean the hamster and mouse cages, feed the fish and refill the inventory. It sounds like a gross job, but I was by myself and seldom bothered by the manager which made it ideal. I learned to separate the mother and the babies from other hamsters because if the mother got nervous she’d eat her babies. They were ugly babies. Most of them lived but I never took credit for raising the inventory. Once I worked the souvenir counter which was filled with the tackiest souvenirs, most made in China. A guy once came and bought something then tried to scam me with dollar bills. He kept a running commentary of the amount of money between us hoping I’d get distracted or confused so he could trade a few dollars for a 20. It didn’t happen. He took off quickly when I called for the manager. My favorite part of that job was the lunch counter where I ate most days. The hot dogs in the grilled rolls were my favorites.

Every other summer I worked in the Hyannis post office. It was good money in those days. My job was to sort piles of mail into smaller piles of mail for specific destinations. I started working the primary board where all the mail started. I had a rubber thumb to help me sort the mail. The stool was angled toward the board. The slots in the board were open in the back but had some rope across so the mail wouldn’t fall on the floor. Sorters would come and take the mail back to their boards for further sorting. The mail for sorting came in two foot trays. The worst was a tray of postcards. I swear there were thousands of them on a single tray. I did have some fun as any postcard which had a message but wasn’t addressed I’d sent to a friend or a neighbor. Postcards with postage due also got sent. The worst thing about those post cards was when they were cancelled. Because they were so thin, a pile would go through the machine at the same time and only the first postcard would be cancelled. I was a quick sorter so the foreman would bring me the postcards. I told him they’d better be cancelled. Many weren’t so I just tossed them on the floor. They piled around my stool. The foreman would come, say nothing, pick up the postcards and put them through the cancelling machine again. The last summer I worked there, going into my senior year in college, I was offered a full time job. I didn’t take it.

I spent the next summer in Ghana.

“Nothing reminds us of an awakening more than rain.”

April 12, 2016

Today I started early with a nine o’cock meeting. When it had finished, I went to the bank, the post office and the grocery store. I got home after eleven and had another cup of coffee while I read my second newspaper and my e-mail. It was while I was reading the local news I realized how tired I was so I decided to take a morning nap. Gracie must have felt the same way because she joined me upstairs. We just woke up. Gracie, though, is now back to napping, and I’m still tired.

When I looked out the window this morning, I saw a cloudy, ugly sort of day. When I went outside to leave, I was surprised at how warm it was. My car said 55˚, almost balmy for this time of year especially with no sun. I knew it was supposed to rain during some part of the day and it did just as I arrived home. All I would have needed was four more minutes so I could have gotten the dog, my packages and me inside without getting wet.

The easiest way to describe the weather is to say it’s a rainy day, but that’s just the beginning. What sort of rain? All rain storms don’t fall from the sky in the same way, but they do have two things in common: they get you wet and all the rain ends up in the same place, down. My favorite description of rain is one my mother used to use. She’d say it was spitting rain, and I knew exactly what she meant. The earlier rain I got stuck in was heavy. My mother would have called it a deluge. Sometimes rain is torrential. Other times it rains cats and dogs. Sprinkling is the lightest of rains. Coming down in buckets is just the opposite. I remember the rain falling on the long windows when I was in elementary school. The drops would hit the windows then drizzle down until they disappeared. When the wind is great, the rain falls sideways. Some storms have pounding rain. They are probably my least favorite because I always get so wet.

My favorites of all storms are in Ghana at the start of the rainy season. After months of no rain the sky turns almost black and the clouds darken the day. All of a sudden the wind and the rain start with unbelievable ferocity. Trees bend under the onslaught. Lightning strikes jaggedly across the sky. I once saw it hit the ground. The dry, hard earth can’t absorb the rain so it forms rivulets which run and make furrows on the ground. Sometimes the rain is so magnificent I can’t catch my breath from the awe of it. I stand and watch until the storm wears itself out and the sun comes back. I know the dry season is over and it will rain just about every day, but it is this first rain which I’ll remember.

“O’ how full of briers is this working-day world.”

July 20, 2012

Most mornings I’m finished with writing Coffee by now and have gotten on with my day, but not this morning. I woke up late, had three cups of coffee and just took my time reading the papers. It has to do with the weather. Today is cool. It will be in the mid-70’s and will stay cool for the next couple of days. Today is also dark. The sun is hidden behind a cloudy sky. I think it’s a wonderful day.

I had to figure the day of the week when I woke up. Usually I have a Wednesday play which helps give definition to the week, but I didn’t have one this week so I am a bit discombobulated. Because I watch the Red Sox most nights, I don’t have favorite shows on certain nights to help me keep track. I guess in the long run it doesn’t really matter what day it is.

When I was in college, I worked every summer at the post office in Hyannis. Back then Hyannis was a sectional center which meant all the mail was filtered through there so they hired a lot of summer temps. I was a mail sorter. I sat on this weird stool which was tilted toward the mail sorting boxes, and I wore a rubber thumb to help me sort one envelope at a time. I had my own rubber thumb given to me when I first started, and I was warned not to lose it. That should have given me a hint about working in the post office, but it didn’t. At first they had me working the general mail which just meant sorting the mail into states or cities. It was the easiest board, as they called the sorting stations, to work. I had such a good memory that I was also sent to work the Boston station board sorting into towns around the city. I worked Massachusetts which divided the general mail into cities and towns, and I worked Illinois and Ohio. I never did understand why we broke those last two into towns. Working in the PO was about the most boring job I ever had, just sitting and sorting from noon to nine. Once in a while I’d get to cancel the mail and I always enjoyed that, especially the postcards as they were so thin a bunch would slide through the canceling machine all at once. Whenever I’d find a postcard all filled out and stamped but without an address, I’d sent it to a friend. None of them ever mentioned those odd people who sent them postcards. The best time of the night was when we had to tie out for the 9 o’clock pick-up. That meant every piece of first class mail had to go on trucks to Boston. We literally tied each bundle from each slot on the boards using two elastics and then each bundle got an identifying destination on a paper wedged under the elastics. That was hectic emptying all the boards, but it was the only time I had fun working there.

The last time I worked in the PO was the summer before my senior year in college. At the end of that summer, I was actually offered a full-time job starting after Labor Day. I didn’t laugh or snort or breakout in hysterical laughter. I just said no thank you.