512 Words

Something to be Said

Lad Moore

I love small towns. They make me feel far removed from the awful events of September Eleventh.

Yesterday I had three packages to mail internationally. Two were going to Canada, and one to the UK. All three specified a SASE with "International Reply Coupons."

US Post Office, Woodlawn TX, Population 183.

The postmistress greeted me with a Snickers bar grin while "Judge Judy" hollered at somebody on the rabbit-eared TV.

"International what? she said. "I never heard of such. What would you even want with them?"

I explained their purpose.

"I wouldn't know anything about them, let alone know how to use them, so it's likely we won't ever have any," she said. "Try over to Jefferson. They're bigger, but they close at four." It was 3:20.

US Post Office, Jefferson TX, Population 2,960.

I arrived at 3:44---breathing hard from trotting through the parking lot with my parcels.

The woman listened as I explained what I wanted. Her total attentiveness was assured because she watched me over the top of her glasses.

"Humm," she said. "I've heard of those. Carl! Don't we have them foreign stamp things?

Carl said, "I think that's what those slips in the safe are. Had 'em for years." Carl was busy trying to decide where to put stamps on a tubular package big enough to contain a set of water skis. "Get one out and show it to him," he said.

The woman returned, rubbing the coupon on her sleeve so as to slick it up.

"Is this what you want? Look at all that funny writing on it. Is that French? Carl, this thing is marked $1.05. Is that the old price? Is that what we still charge?

"Postage went up a smidgen," she said, with a smile intended to prepare me for a one or two cent hike.

Carl answered, "Sell it to him for $1.05. I don't know the price. He placed the ski package into a cart and took the woman's position at the counter.

"Okay, next! Sir, you'll need to step aside so folks in line can tend their business before we close." Carl waved his hand to restart the stalled traffic behind me.

"Okay," I said, feeling humbled. I moved to the end of the counter amidst frowns and curious stares from the patrons.

"I need three," I shouted to the woman as she disappeared behind a burlap curtain. "Wait," I said. "Make it six, so I'll have some extras."

She returned, buffing the coupons on her sleeve again. "They've been in our safe forever, but we only had two. I guess you can have them both, and then we'll be done with them."

I carefully thought about which two of the packages should get the coupons. The third one would have to be happy with cash; and I placed a dollar and a nickel inside the SASE. Maybe the person opening the package in the United Kingdom would note the Jefferson postmark and somehow understand. I know that Tony Blair and those folks are our friends.

Copyright ©2002 Lad Moore. All Rights Reserved.

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May, 2002
Issue #73

512 Words