Going Postal

by admin on March 29, 2011

Just a quick note from the Admin before we proceed to today’s story….I am not approving comments for yesterday’s post that involve major rants about specific religions or their beliefs.  So, emails and private comments to me whining piteously that you are being censored will be ignored.

This next storyteller writes so well you almost feel like you are right there in line with her…

Down the street from my office there is a small postal store. On most days at most times there is only one person manning the counter there, and there is usually a line. Sometimes this goes quickly and other times not depending on the nature of the customer transactions. Most everyone who uses this little store knows this already and comes prepared to wait patiently. I have seen people come in with a book or magazine to read while in line while others entertain themselves with cell phone games, texting, or emails until it is their turn. The main post office is about a mile (or less) walk from here, and if you’re in a hurry your best bet is to go there or come back later.

Today I went in to mail something to a friend. It was lunch time and I expected the line to be long. I was not disappointed. I grab my packing materials and pack up and address my stuff as I wait. The two patrons in front of me that will figure into this story were a girl with a box and carrying a shopping bag with tissue paper…which tells me she just wrapped whatever she put into the box — and a man who was looking to send something overnight. As the line starts behind me, the Banshee gets into line directly behind me. I know her name, as she was dumb enough to answer her phone with it later, but see no reason to give it here. Banshee will suffice. We aren’t in line more than a few minutes before she starts up.  Loud, heavy sighs about every 30 seconds. This turns into sighs combined with mumbling under her breath about how “this is ridiculous,” “jesus!” and varying other combinations of swear words. I keep my face forward, smirking, but that doesn’t last long as her whining is starting to become an annoyance. No one ever goes to the post office expecting to be in and out unless you’re just dropping something in the collection box. In the meantime, the poor, lone worker is doing her best to churn through this line.

At this point, the girl with the box, let’s call her BG for short, has her turn. Her box is not taped, her paperwork not filled out. The worker tells her to step to the side, tape up her box, fill out her paperwork, and then come back to the front of the line. As the worker tries to find the tape for BG, Banshee is getting irritated. As BG works on her stuff, the guy with the overnight stuff (OG) steps up to the counter. Due to a misunderstanding of how it works, OG grabbed the wrong envelope and is also shuffled off to the side to fix it. By now, BG is ready and returns to the window. She tells the postal worker that she wants to charge this package to a corporate account, and as the worker starts to do whatever it is she needs to do BG asks if she can tape more. This causes a ripple through the waiting line, mostly people silently rolling their eyes. But not the Banshee. No, the Banshee loudly exclaims, “How stupid are you?!” BG doesn’t turn around and works on making her box able to withstand a nuclear bomb via tape protection alone. She then realizes that her meter is running out and dashes off to top it up while the worker continues to get the mailing slips ready. I’m not sure why this process is taking this long but I’m assuming it has to do with the charging to a corporate account.

When BG returns, Banshee is furious. Her sighs and mutterings have not been acknowledged and this seems to irritate her. This is when things start to get really bad. Banshee whips out her cell phone and calls a friend.

“Can you believe I’m still at the post office? There’s only one f*****g person working the counter and this stupid bitch is holding up the line taping up her box and doing who the hell knows what. If this were Rockefeller Center they’d kick her out!”

All of this is loud enough for both the postal worker and BG to hear. BG handles this with grace, never turning around, but the rest of us are appalled. I am secretly hoping the postal worker will tell Banshee to leave immediately, but it doesn’t happen. Banshee hangs up smugly, as if her mission to publicly humiliate BG was complete and calling a friend was the perfect cover she needed to loudly express her feelings. BG decides she also needs stamps, and when her transaction is finally to the stage where you pay…she decides to write a check. Banshee explodes!

“She’s writing a f*****g check?! SERIOUSLY?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”

Another silent plea for the worker to boot her…nothing. Damn it. BG finishes and leaves, never looking back. Now OG finishes his transaction and she is displeased with how long it takes him even though he was only there less than 5 minutes finishing up. She is still bitching under her breath. My turn finally and I take less than 5 minutes from start to finish. As I leave I hear her stomp up to the counter and ask how much it was to send something via the different services, much to the irritation of those behind her as she was now holding THEM up. But of course it was okay that she was doing it. Don’t we all know how important she is?! I wanted to turn around and say something to her — such as congratulating her on her horrifying lack of manners and inability to behave properly in public and my condolences for being raised by wolves as she was insulting the noble bearing of a wolf — but I know that etiquette dictates that to be rude to someone who has been rude is just as bad as the original act. So I held my tongue because, unlike Banshee, I was raised with manners.  0328-11

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

lynda March 30, 2011 at 3:22 am

There used to be a membership store in Southern California (before the big box ones) and I loved their selection and prices but I knew the lines would be long at certain times. I had gotten the regular purchases and was in line to buy my groceries. There was an African American man behind me and a nervy older woman behind him. She wasn’t buying that many things (none of us were, we were in the 12 & under line) but she was talking about how long it was taking, etc. She spoke up very loudly and asked (in general) if she could be the next person to be served as she was in a hurry and just needed to get the milk (and so on and so on)…no one said anything. All the checkstands were open, all had lines and we all wanted to get home. She then starting talking about why ‘some people’ who don’t work can’t do their shopping at some time that doesn’t inconvenience those who do work and she deserved a little courtesy. Well, I know her remarks were addressed to/about the gentleman behind me (a quiet, patient man) and if there’s one thing that gets me angry, it’s not just racism but prejudice of other kinds as well (that he ‘obviously’ didn’t work).
I was in a debate class and occasionally it comes back–speak to the issue.
I told her that even if the gentleman (and I used that term) allowed her to go ahead of him I wasn’t going to allow her to move ahead of me. I said that we were all shopping on our way home from work and anyone who shops Fedco should know/remember what it’s like around 6 pm. I told her if she just needed to buy some milk, she should have gone to a convenience store that would have taken perhaps 10 minutes and she wouldn’t have gotten so upset.
She replied that she didn’t want to spend the extra money she’d have to pay elsewhere and then she went off on a long tirade about how people don’t get the respect they deserve, older person not wanting to stand in line, etc….I told her the year I was born and that I didn’t like standing in line but the line was moving and she didn’t have the right to ask for special treatment–that there is one general membership category and no one got any special perks. Well she grabbed her basket and almost ran over to another line which then moved even slower.
No one else in the line said anything but there’s times when I have a big mouth and since no one wanted to give up their place in line, I kind of thought they agreed with me.
I thought about it afterwards and decided that she was probably angry all evening (maybe longer) and
she’d never get it—like the OP said, take along something to occupy your time and just accept that you may be special to your mom and dad but it doesn’t mean anything to other people waiting in line.
How very, very unhappy both women –the one in OP’s story, and the one in mine–the world will never run the way they want it to and I’m sure they are always being disappointed by the people in their lives.
If nothing else, I can always be thankful I don’t have that person for a boss or supervisor, and pity the people who do.

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Michelle P March 30, 2011 at 8:57 am

Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. I always think of the right thing to say afterward! She was just so polite when she asked, that’s why I did it. Thanks to all!

@Princess Buttercup, your suggestion and your mom are awesome!

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Enna March 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

As for BG, it was thoughtless what she was doing but not as thoughtless or as rude as Banshee. BG could’ve fogotten to do her taping and packing because she had had a very busy day or her mind could of been on other things like an ill child or relative. Unless we were there it’s hard to judge how “rude” she was and I think it’s possible to tell the difference between long-term-unreasonable-character-flaw thouhtlessness to the odd “offence.”

Maybe the post office should put up a noitce (if they don’t have one all ready) reminding customers to make sure that their parcels and letters are all tapped/stuck up/stamped and addressed before doing queueing up? Also reminding them that this helps cut down waiting time for all customers. In the bank they have little mini desks you can lean on towards the end of the queue.

The swearing person – what is her problem? If she was waiting in a hopsital or a GP’s sugery she’d be told to 1) quieten down 2) if she can’t be quiet leave.

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kelly March 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I remember once waiting for over half an hour in a queue at the information point in Munich train station fairly late at night. My question was a fairly simple one, but as it was the information queue I assumed that everyone just had a question and so waited my turn. I finally got to be the next in line when a tourist ( a woman my age) came up to me and said “I just have a question so Ok if I go before you” and took my place. I was aghast so stepped in front of her again, and told her that I, and the one hundred people behind me also just had questions – it was the information line and I was not going to give her place and she would just have to join the queue. She just stood there gaping at me, telling me how she just needed some information, and the queue would take her a long time before finally stomping her feet yelling that she was going to just ask someone else. Not one person let her in and she had to go to the back of the queue.

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Margaret March 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I probably wouldn’t have the nerve, but wouldn’t it be fun, after Banshee had made her rude cell phone call, to whip out your own cell phone and say, “Hey, I’m at the post office. It’s about the usual wait here, but you would NOT believe the RUDE person in line behind me — sighing and groaning and cursing — I don’t think she even realizes how horrible she is.”

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Maitri March 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Everyone here who is saying that saying something to Banshee would have only made her nastier, etc, is exactly the reason why she does it. Because no one will step up and tell her how awful she is, she assumes her behavior is condoned and her nasty opinions are shared by all around her. Bullies often back down when confronted by someone who isn’t intimidated. Someone like that, I’m willing to bet that if told to pipe down, they would.

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RP March 30, 2011 at 2:18 pm

To her credit, she did have the check filled out except for the amount, so that part didn’t take long.

@OP: Apparently that wasn’t good enough for the Banshee. Oy. I feel bad for Banshee’s co-workers if she’s like that everywhere.

So, emails and private comments to me whining piteously that you are being censored will be ignored.

Anyone else find it silly that anyone would think that the admin would allow religious rants on a site about etiquette?

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Stepmomster March 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I have been that box wrapper… so distracted and completely unfamiliar with the process when I was about 16 years old that I held up the line forever. Thankfully the people in the post office were very gracious, but I remember the cashier giving me a scathing “Postal Virgin?” comment that made some of the middle aged ladies in line gasp out loud behind me. One of the men muttered behind me “Classy” in a sarcastic voice, obviously offended at the Cashier’s choice of words aimed at a teen girl. I finally finished and left, but I was unable to look at anyone on the way out. It’s amazing now that the age group of women women offended 20 years ago , are now the same age group women that find it appropriate to swear in public and berate complete strangers.

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KitKat March 30, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I tend to fidget and tap my toes when I’m in a line but it’s more because people are in my bubble and don’t get the obvious nonverbal hints. I actually elbowed a guy because I put my hands on my hips to show my bubble and he walked into it. I would have politely said something to Banshee.

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RMMuir March 31, 2011 at 11:12 am

@Maitri – Sometimes there’s just no reasoning with unreasonable people. I’ve got a flat mate like that. If you get drawn into a discussion with her, she’ll get nastier and nastier with every reply, then later offer a non-apology (I’m sorry IF I made you feel victimised/intimidated etc). She will never admit that she might be in the wrong or that a major part of the problem was with her behaviour attitude. It took a while to realise that the only way to come out ahead was to not respond to her at all, which I find really difficult! I found the civil shunning post helpful.

The only way responding to her would have worked would have been if you made her so angry that she stormed out of the post office, but I doubt it would get her to change her ways!

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Enna March 31, 2011 at 2:26 pm

If someone is struggerling with their wrapping, do you think an offer of help would be a polite and nice thing to do? Helping them speed up as well as something to do. I’m not the greatest wrapper but I’m very good at holding the edges of wrapping paper down so they can be sercured by stickey tape.

It depends on what is said to rude girl. A simple “that langauge is rude and is not going to make the queue go any quicker: if you are in a hurry then maybe use the big post office a mile away”. If I was the clerk at that place I would have told the rude person to politely go elsewhere if she was so unhappy with the service: because someone is going to be abusive to other customers they could be abusive and immtimdating to the staff too. What would be unacceptable to do would be to swear back at her.

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Hmmm... August 30, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Oh this always happens to me but I’m usually with the person who’s doing the comments!

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