Monday, December 7, 2009
Me and the USPS
We have a tenuous relationship, the Postal Service and I, and so does most of Alaska, I'll wager. Due to our location, even 50 years after the statehood celebration, referred to sometimes as "Out of U.S." when it comes to catalogue orders, Alaska and its residents must gird their packaging moxie every December with admirable fortitude.
The holidays seemed so stinking simple when we lived Outside. Shop for the gift, buy the gift, wrap the gift, deliver the gift in person at an annual holiday hoopla. Here, not so much.
Alaskans must, in a very precise, calculated series of steps, must do the following:
Buy the gift, being sure, of course, that it will not melt, break, make noise (mailmen hate noisy toys in their trucks, as I was informed by mine a few years ago after a backhoe kept ordering "Get your hardhat on!" for his entire route. He deserved every minute of this, but I digress...), or become stinky (I am, of course, referring to the ultimate of Alaskan gifts, fish).
We must wrap the gift. Wrapping in cutsey, trendy holiday paper? Not. Brown store wrap, like the kind the pioneers wrapped their Christmas flannel shirts and calico. It has staying power. Bows looking like works of art? Never. They are squished and squashed by the time the arrive at the prescribed destination. String, maybe, this year.
We must wrap the gift again, this time with other gifts, in a box. If I can find one that does not have "Alaskan Amber" or "Jubelale" on it. Hmm. We must find tape, and scissors, and labels to ensure the package meets the criteria set by cranky people who always say "that's not good enough" to me.
Finally, after Alaskans have found the addresses of Everyone Else (that is, people who live other places besides, gasp, Alaska), we go to the Post Office. And we stand there. And stand there. And stand there some more.
I always take Bear in the hope that one day the people at the USPS will be so tired of watching my kid swing from the counter, write on the Priority Mail boxes with the pen that is supposed to be attached to the writing table but is not, and wail "I'm soooooooo tired of this place, Mommmmmyyyyyyy!" that eventually they will move me to the front of the line. Unfortunately, the same cranky people who work at the Post Office also seem to be deaf, so this strategy has not yet proven successful.
This is, however, the price we Far Northerners pay for a truly winter wonderland Christmas at the home base of Santa Claus, hot buttered rums, and many, many parties featuring things like mixed nuts from the Carolinas or a fruit basket from California. Go figure.
I bet it's easier standing in line with a beach outside your window. Then again, maybe not. A moose kept a bunch of people in the Post Office the other day because it was eating a shrub right outside the door. The line got longer, and longer, and longer. We all figured as long as we were there we'd get some more stamps and Flat Rate boxes.
Take that, Postal Party-Poopers. It's freakin' Christmas.