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