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.