I timed myself. From the moment I entered until the moment my transaction ended it took 48 minutes, which seems like an awfully big chunk of time when you’re not used to waiting in line for much of anything. But it’s Christmastime and the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without at least one very long wait at the Homer Post Office.
There is something noble about saying that you waited in line at the Post Office for a long time. It insinuates that you are getting your gifts sent off to distant relatives in a timely fashion, but I have to confess, I haven’t purchased a single gift yet. Shopping is my least favorite aspect of Christmas. I prefer the baking, which is why I was willing to stand in line for the better part of my lunch break on Monday. I had no choice. If I wanted the organic Saigon Cinnamon and the organic cocoa powder that I’d ordered online then I had to take the plunge.
I do quite a few things around town to keep me feeling connected; I go to the contra dances, I volunteer for the Homer Nutcracker, and I work in the library, but I don’t think anything makes me feel more a part of the community than a nice, long wait at the Homer Post Office.
When I first walked in the door I was greeted by cheering and clapping. Well it wasn’t for me, but for the lady walking out. The crowd was congratulating her for making it through the line. After it was clear that I was not one of the people who bailed upon seeing the length of the line, a man three people in front of me informed me of the expected wait time. “It’s taking about thirty minutes,” he said.
Way up ahead of me in the line I could see one of my close friends who appeared to be conducting business from her cell phone. First someone came in to have her sign paperwork then a few minutes later she was delivered a batch of cupcakes. I weighed the option of running my pink slip up to her so she could pick up my package for me, but I didn’t want to be the one responsible for turning the mostly cheerful crowd hostile by cutting, besides, her hands were full.
A well known local conspiracy theorist happened to be there that day, and he decided to talk rather loudly and incessantly about how the postal service was going south because of the government’s war on drugs. According to him, all packages were being opened and inspected in the back and that’s why it was taking so long.
Another woman, someone I didn’t recognize, talked on her cell phone about some fairly private matters concerning the health of her friends and family. After hearing the words “colonoscopy” and “questionable pap results” I was thankful, for her family’s sake and my own, that I didn’t know her.
About twenty minutes in, my business conducting friend who had been near the beginning of the line finished sending her packages and came to chat with me. We made a date to sit in her new hot tub, exchanged stories about our teen-aged daughters and compared notes on how we were holding up during the coldest, darkest part of winter. Then as she was walking out she looked back at me and said, just so most everyone could hear, “I don’t wear a bathing suit in the hot tub, so don’t worry about bringing one.” – So glad she left me there with the townsfolk after giving them that image.
Then there was the lady that kept trying to get the group to sing Christmas carols, and the young woman who never looked up from her texting the entire time, and the guy who was reading his mail and swearing. It made for some good people-watching and I never got bored.
Overall it wasn’t a bad 48 minutes. It was better than shopping and it reminded me of why I love this quirky little town. And I had something to think about when I finally got my box of spices and it had been opened. Maybe the conspiracy theorist guy was right after all.