Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Post Office

One of the most diverting aspects of moving across the country has centered on our respective local post offices. In our old town, the downtown post office was notorious: no matter how many people were in line when you arrived, it would always seem to take fifteen minutes to do whatever you went there to do. It was as if there was no such thing as a quick trip to the post office. A long wait in line was just part of the downtown post office experience. (Things were a bit better at the new-fangled post office out on the west side of town.)

The two clerks who most frequently worked the counter at the downtown branch, however, have come to seem archetypal to us. We'll call them "Andy" and "Randy." Andy, who always opened the office at 7:30, was cheerful, efficient, and friendly, always calling me and other frequent customers by name. When, during the course of one of our chats, I told him we were getting ready for a trip to Belgium, he brought in some of his vacation pictures from Bruges to show me the next time I came by. Randy, on the other hand (who was notorious for having asked a friend of Rose's for a date while processing a postal transaction), was something else entirely. No matter how busy or calm it was, no matter how many people there were in line, Randy had only one speed for all work, and it wasn't fast. And he always seemed grumpy, too--he certainly wasn't in the habit of calling me by name. He was the kind of guy who made the fact that he dressed in costume for Halloween seem more of a challenge than a statement of his fun-loving nature.

So when we moved to Morgantown, and I became a regular at the new downtown post office, I have to admit to feeling some surprise in finding two male clerks, one who is bright, efficient and pleasant (though he hasn't started calling me by name yet), and another who is grumpy and mono-velocital. We've taken to calling them "Morgantown Andy" and "Morgantown Randy" (not their actual names, by the way).

Entirely coincidental, I'm sure, but the whole effect of the parallels has served to make the postal experience here strangely familiar, almost homey. And every trip still seems to take about fifteen minutes.

I sure hope it isn't any kind of official post office policy.

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