December 19. I made an early morning trip to the post office to mail a forgotten gift for delivery by Christmas. I smugly thought “quick and easy self serve”... a machine that weighs and affixes postage before the lines form. Windows open at 9—it was 8:35 am.
Three people were also in the lobby but not near the machine. I stepped up to self-serve assuming they were waiting for a real person at a window station. I thought, “Great, even better than I thought. I’m first!”
As I approached the screen I heard someone say, “It’s not working.” As I turned to acknowledge the comment I continued to hit the screen as if I could will it work...surely THEY just didn’t have the right touch. But no...nothing.
One young lady was standing there with three large finger paintings she was going to mail to grandparents. Actually quite good. Little blue handprints with lots of red and purple swishes.
She said, “Well, I’ll just have to wait. I’m not going home cause I will never get out again. I left my husband with a 3 yr- old and 1 yr- old twin girls. “Oh my gosh”, I said, “Stay out as long as you can. Go to McDonalds, get a cappuccino, something.”
As one of life’s coincidences, the other lady said, My twin girls are 40 this year. “Wow...what were the odds....two mothers of twin girls 40 years apart. I asked her to show me photos of her twins, (she whipped out her phone) and what were their names? One was Violet. I told her it was a lovely name because it was mine also. More serendipity.
Then a lady who was also there said frantically, “ If someone comes in who works here would you please ask them to see if I threw my credit card in with my package in the big steel door? I’m going to the parking lot to see if I dropped it.” She returns with the news that she has not found it.
Then a new customer comes in and walks up to the self serve. As we try to help her avoid the frustration of it not working, she hits the buttons and it works as she buys stamps. What??? So now we know it disperses stamps but cannot give a receipt for packages..
Then we hear the big steel cage opening...our hearts are beating fast...it is not yet 9:00 am and they are going to wait on us! There is a Post office Santa somewhere.
By now the line behind us is almost out the door. We have a little glitch when the lady with the finger paint posters has to buy mailing tubes which are locked behind yet another steel grated door...so the attendant has to open that. The young mom apologizes to the line profusely. From the lengthening line, not a discouraging word was heard.
Then the lady with the lost credit card tells her sad story to the attendant who says she cannot look for the card with the line backing up. A man in line says he wishes he could lose his credit card 4 days before Christmas . It might save him a lot of money. The lady goes back to the parking lot and runs in to tell us she found her credit card under her wheel. The man says “I should throw mine under a wheel.” I say, “I think maybe you should also run it over so you’re not tempted to pull it back out.”
The young mom now has her paints in tubes, the lady has found her card and in less than 30 minutes I have found something better...new serendipity friends and the true joy of Christmas...no one was angry, everyone sympathized with their fellow shoppers’ plights.
And best of all, I mailed a last minute stocking stuffer to my daughter-in-law in Chicago with hopes it would arrive in time...otherwise my son would have one more gift than her--not that she would notice or mind, but you know mother-in-laws have to be extra careful not to play favorites.
But I think she already knows she’s my favorite daughter-in-law—at least she does now.