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CATCHING UP ON MY READING

16 January 2003

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read this journal for more than a week that I have very little time to read. I love reading. If I were to stop everything else in my life and do nothing but read until I die, I would never finish all the books I want to read. So it's a great frustration that I rarely have any time to read.

But there is one place where I know I can relax and bury myself in a book for a long time and not worry about anybody interrupting me: standing in line at the post office.

When we moved to Davis, we were a town of 30,000 people and two (or was it 3?) post offices (or one "post office" and a couple of postal stations). We have now increased by at least 10,000 people, so of course the government has chosen to close all of the substations. There is only one place in town to buy stamps, or mail a package: the only post office in town.

I have yet to find any time of the day when there is not a line extending out the door and into the mailbox area. I even tried going at 7:30 in the morning to avoid the crowd and discovered that everyone in town had the same idea.

Today was a typical day at the post office--a line out to the door, and five of the eight stations empty. I swear the post office only has 3 employees--all those extra stations are just for show. It doesn't make it better that there is a bowl of candy for people to help themselves to. You aren't going to "sweeten" me up that easily. I would rather have another clerk or two behind the desk.

There used to be more clerks manning the stations. And they were always the same guys. They knew you. I'd walk up to one guy in particular and he not only knew my name, but also my address (he had delivered mail to our house for several years). There was also a cutie who ran the desk where you could buy postal stamps, which acted as another place to mail your packages when things got busy.

I don't know if the cut backs occurred with the retirement of the old postmaster or not, but now you're lucky if you have 3 people to wait on you, and the faces seem to change from day to day.

When you live in a small town things can be...different.

From 1981 to about 1991, we had 70 foreign students pass through our house for short or long periods of time. When they returned to their home countries, they would invariably write to let me know how things were doing (this usually lasted about a year, I discovered, and then they just kind of drifted off).

There was one Brasilian girl who lost our address and sent a letter to "Mrs. Beverly, Davis, CA." I got it! We'd had the same carrier for years, he told me that I received more foreign mail than anybody in town, so he knew that it was for me.

Fast forward about 10 years. I was writing a letter to the local Long's. It is located in a shopping center about a mile from our house. I addressed the letter "Long's, Sycamore and Covell, Davis, CA." The letter was returned as a bad address. When I called the post office to ask about it they said that the mail was now sorted in Sacramento and without a number address, they had no way of knowing where to send it, even though I had given them the intersection.

Sigh.

Progress.

I've become one of the shuffling masses who stand, patiently, in long lines, knowing that I have no other choice. It's like people in the old Soviet Union lining up to buy toilet paper.

But I'm almost finished with "War and Peace." I'm going to start "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" next.

Quote of the Day

"The Postal Service is the most visible and ubiquitous federal institution in America. ... The daily visits that citizens make to local post offices have shaped the development pattern of many towns. Business districts have grown up around post offices, allowing postal customers to shop, dine, and take care of other needs in one convenient area. "

~ from Edward McMahon's, Public Buildings Should Set the Standard

Yesterday's Photo

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Ned's musical career began at an early age--here he is with a Ukranian "bandura"

One Year Ago
Falling Leaves
from the pages of "What dumb thing has Steve Schalchlin talked Bev into doing now?" I have agreed to go and see him playing the lead in The Last Session next month. Now you may think that doesn't sound so dumb, but he's playing it in Rochester, NY. Think about it. Rochester in February. Doesn't that sound just yummy?

Two Years Ago
The Courage to Change
These weren't major, life altering changes, but I did trust someone to help me make some decisions. It took a bit of courage. We do these things in baby steps. Maybe next time I'll have the courage to make even bigger changes.


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