Always Real

The Post Office

One day last week, Sean and I had to make a stop at the post office.

It was mid-morning, mid-week – a not very busy time for our little local post office. Yet there was a line.  There is always a line.  We know this. We accept it as a part of life.  If the sun comes up, there will be a line at the post office.

But not everyone is as wise and knowing about the post office as we.

As Sean and I are walking from the car towards the post office, a man comes sprinting towards us from behind like a linebacker.  He has his arms full of mail and packages.  He nearly knocks us down so that he can get through the door before we do.  He cuts in front of us and goes in as though we are invisible.

We step aside and let him blow by.  Sean looks at the man and then looks at me and shakes his head. He gives me a look that says, “Whatever dude. Go first if it means that much to you.”

The man runs into the post office and gets in line.  He wins an iPod Shuffle for beating us.

So we leisurely stroll up to the line and stand behind him.  Instead of being 4th in the line, we are 5th. No prize for 5th.

We have come to the post office to mail a small paperback book and to buy some stamps, nothing complicated or urgent.  We are enjoying the loveliness that is the post office and the merriment that is the postal personnel.  We are having a delightful morning running our errands and we don’t care whether we are standing in front of crazy postal patron or behind him.

Crazy postal patron taps his foot and plays a drum solo on the mail he is holding in his arms.  He concludes his concert with a loud sigh.  He has telegraphed to all that he is in a hurry and we have received the message.

Finally he is next in line. It is almost his turn.  His anticipation is palpable.  I can hear his pulse quicken.  He reaches around and pats his back pocket. “Oh &%$#!” he says. “My wallet is in the car.”

NOW he turns around to acknowledge me as a human being and fellow postal patron.

He smiles at me with pleading eyes.

I smile back at him with my fake smile.

Crazy postal patron runs from the post office likes he’s just robbed the place.

Sean and I step up to take the pole position in the line.

Before we are called, crazy guy comes sheepishly back into the post office, ostensibly with his wallet.

I look at Sean and Sean looks at me and without words we agree.

“Would you like your place back in line?” I ask.

“Yeah, that would be great,” he says, “Thanks.”

“No problem,” I offer.

And that was that.

I considered for a brief moment ignoring him, the way he did us as we were going into the building.  I also considered playing a round of Turn About Is Fair Play.  But, it didn’t cost me anything to let crazy guy back in line.  With my impressionable five-year-old looking on, it would have cost me a lot if I hadn’t.


We all need it, none of us deserve it.

48 thoughts on “The Post Office

  1. With an impressionable five-year-old watching, I’d say you made the right decision. And I’m sure crazy postal patron walked away thinking that nice people do still exist in this world:).

  2. I wanna run errands with you guys some time, tho there’s rarely a line at our PO and the merriment is genuine, with candy 😉 And I’m hoping you talk at some point about how you handle the “Oh &%$#!” language with your impressionable 5yo…

  3. Amazing grace… for there but for the grace of God go I. And those short people learn alot more from what we do than what we say – every day. (We all know that, sorry for stating the obvious)

  4. There is always a line at our small-town post office, too, but I am not sure if I would be have been as willing to do the right thing for crazy postal patron…but then I no longer have an impressionable 5-year-old along with me on errands anymore, either…

  5. Love it! And you are so correct. None of us deserves the Grace that is so freely offered to us… but thankfully, it’s there for the taking!

  6. I’m glad you did what you did and I hope I have the grace to do it myself should I find myself in a similar situation. I’ve noticed God has somehow given my mouth self-restraint since I’ve had a child. I say God gave it to me because I’ve known myself for 37 years…that’s never a word I’d used to describe my mouth.

    I also remember my husband flying down Coit Road at 60 miles an hour, weaving in and out of traffic when I was in labor with Monkey. Since then, I am much more aware of those “crazy drivers” on the road. Not that it’s suddenly legal, but perhaps they have a good reason for speeding? I don’t always know, but instead of slowing them up or honking madly, I just get out of their way.

  7. Hoping your grace made an impression on more than just Sean. Maybe crazed guy will pay it forward? Someday.

  8. Knowing that my child is watching makes me behave better. Shouldn’t it be enough knowing that my heavenly Father is watching, and that He sees my heart as well as He sees my actions? Thanks for the reminder of grace, both the grace I’ve received and the grace I should extend.

  9. Great story – and a good reminder that little sponges are always watching and learning. Hope crazy postal patron will remember your kind deed and do the same for someone else sometime.

  10. I had a very similar experience recently…some things in life just aren’t worth a battle, as we parents (especially antique mommies) know!

  11. Proud of you – what a great example for Sean of patience & kindness, and, as you say, grace. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder of what’s REALLY important. 🙂

  12. What a great lesson for me! Seems like I always want people to give me grace (lots of it!) but then I never want to give it to others. I need to remember the cross every single minute…

  13. That’s God, like billions of times every single day for the history of humanity, ever since Adam said “what the heck, I’ll take a bite.”

    You’re absolutely right: we all need it, and none of us deserve it.

  14. That’s a great lesson for your five-year-old, and a good reminder for me, too. Sometimes it’s so tempting (and so easy) to give as good as we get, to return rudeness for rudeness. Who knows, crazy postal patron could have just been having a really rotten day, and your display of grace could have been the thing to turn his day around. Thank you for sharing that!

  15. And you never lost your peace…something ‘crazy person’ will not have all day, and maybe doesnt’ even know about!

    Well done good and faithful servant/mom, same thing!)

  16. Amen to that! Our kids pick up on EVERYTHING we do and our actions speak WAAAYYY louder than our words! You are a great example to Sean!

  17. I am certain you would have done that even if Sean had not been with you. Because you are nice like that.

    I get immensely irritated at people who behave that way, and it is a constant battle to be genuinely polite. (“Genuine” being the operative word here.) So far, most of the time, it’s a good day if I can fake it and do the right thing. Your example is inspiring because it really was genuine. 🙂

  18. I have missed visiting here and have promised myself I will come much more often.
    You are a dear, sweet Mama – you definitely are. Yes – grace. I couldn’t live without it.

  19. Wow, we could all use more of this. The other day I took one of our kids to an orthodontist appointment. It has one drive with parking spaces on each side. A UPS truck stopped to make a delivery and parked right behind me. That way he only blocked one car instead of several others. He was loading a dolly with packages when we walked out. He looked at me and said, “tell me that isn’t your mini van.” I said, “of course it is! But go ahead and take your time, if you move you’ll probably hold up a lot more people.” And he was like, “really? I’d be happy to move it.” I said, “sure and take your time.” He couldn’t believe it. I’m trying to slow down and be kinder. Thanks for sharing.

  20. I’m just glad I won’t have to deal with that same situation (I can only summon that kind of grace on my good days), as my little post office rarely has any kind of line on mid-day weekdays! ;-D

  21. I’ve grown to look at circumstances such as this as a learning experience. I will never understand human beings but I want my son to be able to 🙂
    Caught in a rainstorm one time, twenty cars passed us by, gawking at my drenched 7 yr old. Not that we would have taken a ride from a stranger, but it would have been nice if someone had offered.
    I didn’t think of the impact until days later when he started telling everyone that twenty out of twenty people don’t care about other people. Even now, he will recant the story and tell the “moral”.
    Little things have lasting impact.

  22. Sally wrote and said she doesn’t have a 6 year old along on her trips to worry about teaching life lessons to , But she forgot its not just children who are watching.Us adults are also watching and judgeing each other.Lets go back to showing love to others in small little ways.It can make for wonderful days and nights.No matter who is watching. Do things for others because it’s the right thing to do.

  23. For JJ,
    Please don’t get me wrong, I agree that showing love to others, no matter who is watching, is the right thing to do. And I strive to do that every day. I always greet everyone I see with a smile and treat them with kindness and consideration. But there still seems to be an awful lot of people who are very demanding, rude and inconsiderate, and sometimes that kind of behavior just wears me down, and makes me less willing to be kind to them when they are so rude to me. It is a weakness that I need to work on, to show them by example that being kind is the right thing to do in all circumstances.
    I’m pretty that sure we can all do better in showing love to one another.

  24. To JJ’s point, As a Christian, I am called to be Christ to everyone I see, everywhere I go, every day. Even at the post office. But oh how I fail. Having a 5YO at my elbow IS a reminder to respond to others with grace even when they don’t deserve it and I don’t feel like it. Ideally my motivation would always be to behave properly just because it’s the right thing, but sometimes, often, it’s just that I don’t want to infect my 5YO with my sub-par attitude.

    To Sally’s point, it does seem like most of the people “out there” are rude and pretend you are invisible (oddly enough I encounter this more at church than the post office). And it does wear me down. And? It hurts my feelings. But to be quite honest many days I am “those people out there” I’m in a hurry, I have a me-first attitude, I’ve got stuff to do, get out of my way. At the root of this behavior is the unexamined and misguided notion that I’m the center of the universe more than plain old meanness — my nose has become lodged in my navel.

    We all need to extend grace more freely and automatically — Sally and me and everyone else. We all need to work on it, and then get up the next day and work on it some more. And maybe somewhere along the way, we’ll get a little grace when we need it.

  25. Such a great story….and such great restraint. 🙂

    Crazy postal patron’s wife must have a child on the same swim team as my child. We were driving through the one way parking lot today to get the very last parking spot and she drove the wrong way, toward me, at a very high rate of speed and turned in the space from the wrong way. I said nothing, and found another parking spot, however, in my mind I was wishing that I was driving a beat up Dodge Ram truck……


    * * * *
    I relate to your comment. While I often let people back in line and
    have the parking space I was about to pull into, I also fantasize about
    shooting their tires out. ~ AM

  26. That’s what I would call a “teachable moment”. I kind of feel sorry for the person that was in such a big hurry! But, maybe you taught them something too. Well done!

  27. On my good days, I find it easy to extend grace and kindness to the crazy postal patrons of the world. On my bad days, I’m afraid I have to admit, I AM the crazy postal patron (minus the“Oh &%$#!”)! I have found myself in situations where I am in a hurry (or tired, sick, lazy – insert applicable excuse)and acted in a way that would bring shame to the name of Christ. Knowing that I too am capable of such behavior helps me be able to extend grace to others. And knowing that more grace has been extended to me by my heavenly father than I could ever fathom – well, it really does motivate me to pay it forward. I’m so glad Sean got to see you extending grace. And thanks for sharing with us. I can always use a reminder!

  28. I don’t know why, but as I read the last couple of sentences, it brought a tear to my eye. Thanks for the reminder.

  29. I know this is a serious subject but, um, the mental picture of your nose in your navel is cracking me up. Sorry.

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