Fear Of The Post Office

by John Krieg

When you live in a small town for
Over two decades
You learn to discern
Between who you despise
And who you can tolerate
You become almost professionally adept
At avoiding those you don’t like
But everyone in this town
Has to get their mail
So contact with the rest of humanity
Cannot always be avoided
At the Post Office

The employees seem to instinctively know
That they can’t be fired
As they roll their eyes when I
Ask for the difference in cost
Between First Class and Book-rate
And it chagrined me mightily
When one of them took a hardcover
book, and folded it in half, and
stuffed it into my undersized box
And none of them would own up to doing it
It was obvious that they just didn’t care
Civil Servants? My ass

One day while harmlessly mailing out books
This nosey guy in the next line asked:
“What are those?” 
And I answered: “Books”
Hoping that that would be the end of it
But, of course, it wasn’t as he asked:
“Books about what?’
“Poetry,” he said as if
energized by a bolt of lightning
“I love that shit!  What have you got?”
I knew then and there that
I would always be self-conscious
In openly admitting that I was a closet poet, and
I couldn’t bring myself to rattle off a sonnet
Or even some snappy witty free verse
Right there in the middle of the Post Office
And didn’t he bask in putting me in my place
Saving face just in the nick of time
I delved into a discourse on the difference
Between paradox and irony
Not being one to appreciate subtle nuance
He smirked and slinked away
But I knew that in the back of his mind
That he was thinking: He’s no fucking Poet!

Unfortunately, this hasn’t even been the worst of it
And when at the Post Office sometimes
I can’t win for trying
One cloudy depressing day
This poor little old lady was staggering under
The weight of a package she had received
And to brighten up her miserable life
In an act of gross miscalculation
I reached out to take it from her so as
To take it to her vehicle for her when she
Started screaming, “Help! Thief!! Thief!!!
Her husband rolled up in his wheelchair
And started beating with his cane while
Other postal patrons threw me to the ground
And mendaciously kicked at my ribs with
Their cowboy boots and steel-toed work shoes
I thought I was going to die and was temporarily
Relieved when the county sheriff pulled up
and disbanded the melee on his bullhorn
But then he arrested me, and put me in tight handcuffs
And even admonished me as a low life in the squad car
Jesus! What is it with this town?
Good Lord, you would think that a place as innocuous
As the distribution center for the U.S. mail
Would be a safe space, but
Nothing could be further from the truth

And there are more things that get to me
Like all those posters on the walls
Advising customers not to put
Needles and poison and sharp glass and handguns
Into their packages
Good God!  Don’t they think we know that?
It’s because they treat us like dolts
that their profits are plummeting
And we have to leave our first born behind
As collateral for a book of stamps

The parking lot is worse than
A demolition derby with old geezers
Engaging in fender benders and bumper blasters
And you would think that with visions as poor as that
How in the hell could they ever read their mail?
So why do they even come here in the first place?
It must be the social highlight of their day
In retrospect, I suppose I should be more empathic
But, in truth, I’m fresh out of compassion
For a place that has caused me such grief concerning
The simple task of communicating on paper
And I’m glad that we’re moving to a paperless society
Either that, or bring back the Pony Express, because
That would be safer for all involved
Eudora Welty may be able to explain
Why she lives at the P. O.
But that place is dead to me now

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