Friday, November 20, 2009


I love post. I love to give it and I love to receive it. I think I love it all the more when we live in a time where e-mail and text messaging enables us to send news instantly. There's something wonderful about the now slightly old-fashioned 'snail mail'. I was musing on this as I queued in the post office yesterday. There always seems to be a queue in there, which I count as a blessing because it means the postal service is still in business. So, rather than get frustrated at having to wait to send my post, I delighted in what makes the Post Office an even more wonderful place to be, besides being the place where post is gathered to be send to hundreds of different destinations. It's a place where lives mingle together for a few brief moments.

Yesterday, there was the old man with a wonderful West Country accent, in his green mac with a walking stick that doubled up as a chair. Seeing the queue, he said, 'I'll remember I was behind that man', and pulled up a seat beside the passport photo booth. Having sat for a few minutes, he said to the gentleman in front of me (who had reprimanded me for shutting the door behind me because the postman was about to come out with bags of parcels), 'It's Friday today, isn't it?' Alas, it was Thursday. In some ways I think there's something brilliant about being of an age where the days of the week don't matter so much. Upon realising it was Thursday, he picked up his chair and left, realising he could run his errands the following day.

Then there was the man who had a bee in his bonnet about our country, expressing his concern to the local church minister behind him about the tragedy of living in a place where the poor live in council housing, stay locked up in their own homes all day watching tv on the latest plasma hd-blu-ray-widescreen-thingame-bob-whattsit, living next door to the same family for ten years, never knowing their names. Behind him, the lady who was sending post to all corners of the globe, informing the lady serving her that there would be plenty more post going to New Zealand over the years, courtesy of her. I wondered why this would be the case, smiling at the fact that you get an insight into people's lives as a result of being at the Post Office that you wouldn't otherwise get. It turns out her husband is from NZ so they have family there. I love the way being in the Post Office seems to bring a little bit more out of people that you wouldn't otherwise see, simply because they feel compelled to share something of what has led them to be posting the post that they are. It's a funny old thing, feeling like you're looking into a stranger's life without invitation, as you stand in the queue silently waiting your turn, yet they are the ones openly sharing, so in effect, there is some kind of unspoken invitation there.

I think I need to visit the Post Office more. It's amazing what you learn.
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