During our well-catered paper-lantern workshop** chez Faunalia & Reynardin (for the Solstice Parade) I was complaining about all my trips to the post office. I was amused that Blythechild suggested the postal outlet in the pharmacy up the street because while this is normally an excellent suggestion it's quite crazy in December - and it is precisely where I am going so often that all the staff know me. I was there today to mail some tapirs and a dodo, behind the usual line up of about 6 people, half of whom were chatting in Polish. There was an old man behind me who seemed to be anxiously willing the line to move faster. As the letter carrier arrived with a large, collapsible dolly to lug away the copious amount of mail, the old man suddenly lunged forward. He ignored me altogether and asked the girl ahead of me whether he could go ahead of her. He said he wanted to catch the mail pick-up and only needed stamps. I could see his envelop was stamped, so I pointed out that he could mail stamped envelops in the slot at the front. (I wasn't kidding when I told my friends I would know how to say, "You can buy stamps at the other cash," in Polish, by the end of the month. I know all the ins-and-outs of this postal outlet. I am a regular.) He somewhat frantically said he didn't know how much more postage was due. The lady behind the counter was dealing with two customers and one on the phone, so was not responding to his flailing to get her attention. A young father witnessed this scene and tried repeatedly to give the old man stamps, so he could mail his letter before the letter carrier left. The old man seemed too anxious; he didn't know how much more postage was due and wasn't keen on accepting charity, even if it was one stamp. The letter carrier noticed what was going on and paused. Eventually, the old man got the lady behind the counter to tell him he needed one more stamp, accepted the young father's stamp as a Christmas present (after trying to force some change on him), and the letter carrier took the urgent letter with his huge pile of parcels. I imagine there will be some happier grandchildren somewhere when the fat envelop arrives.
The girl in front of me claimed her package, and then I placed my parcel on the scale. The lady behind the desk asked me whether the letter carrier had left. I said yes. She said if I hurry I would catch the mail too. I just calmly filled in my Customs form and said I didn't think I would make it. She whipped the half-signed form from my hand, stuck the label on my package and said, "Go! Go! If you run, you will catch him - and then you can come back and pay for it." It seemed pointless to argue, so, I went, weaving through the customers in the pharmacy. I found the letter carrier loading packages onto his truck and I asked him if he could take one more. He saw it was labeled and he placed it on the truck. I returned inside to pay for my shipping. The letter carrier followed, with a large box. He explained he couldn't take the box since it had no postage. The lady explained that she had tried to tell the customer she couldn't accept the box without postage, but the customer had insisted that Land's End had free returns*. The letter carrier said it would just sit around for a long time and then get thrown out. Meanwhile, another woman tried to get her mail into the letter carrier's collection too, but the lady behind the cash just told her it would simply take too long to fill in her form and he couldn't be delayed. I guess there are benefits to being a regular.
On another note, here is our tree:
You may recall the Minouette-angel toper I made, to go with all the block-printed ornaments. This year, all gifts are wrapped in my discarded proofs of prints on newsprint. I've got to do something with them, and I can only make so many paper lanterns. So, hand-made wrapping paper it is.
** By the way, the dollar store 'Shoupie' markers were not only coloured differently than advertized, they bled. It's okay of course, but you might want to know this prior to using them.
*Perhaps this is a US policy? In Canada, if it doesn't say 'postage paid', it isn't.