As I’m leaving the office, my coworker says to me, “Get some cool holiday stamps.” Okay, I surmise. I can do that. I’ll go to the grocery store, get my Red Bull, then head to the post office and pick out fun stamps from the stamp vending machine. Should take no more than twenty minutes.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Hey, dumbass. They sell stamps at the grocery store. Why didn’t you just one-stop shop that shizz? Good question. But I had this theory as I was walking to my car that the grocery store only sold the stamps with the bell on them. My coworker had made it clear that your normal, everyday bell stamps would not suffice. And I’m a high-flyer. So when someone tasks me with going all out, I go all the f**k out.
First stop on my journey is the grocery store. QFC. Which of course stands for Quality Fried Chicken. Even though Albertson’s chicken is better. And Popeye’s is even better than that. And of course Ezell’s is the best. Spicy. Mmmmm. That’s where it’s at.
Anyways, I get to QFC and I’m so effing confident that the post office will be a breeze that I don’t even ask the checker if they have Christmas stamps. Nope. I just run through U-Check, ring my ish up, grab my receipt and bounce.
A brief side note here regarding U-Check. When it comes to U-Check, I’m a pro. They should have me on staff giving clinics on how to ring your own stuff up. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even think when I’m going through the whole process. I click start, type in my phone number (since I long ago lost my Advantage Card), hit Enter, scan my sh*t, hit Pay Now, slide my debit card, run it as credit (rewards points…I run everything as credit to earn those rewards points, even if it’s under a dollar), sign the electronic pad, hit Enter, grab my receipt, grab my stuff, leave. To the degenerates that hold up the U-Check line, in your face. And to everyone else in line behind me, you’re welcome. I’m keeping your day on track with my skills.
Back to the real story. I swagger out of the store like I just won the lotto and get in my car to go to the post office. I bump ‘NSync’s Home For Christmas as I drive because I’m just fly like that. And it’s the Christmas season, so it makes sense. Don’t judge me. Like you’ve never listened to that sh*t. Hater.
I get to the post office, walk inside, and am immediately overwhelmed by people. There are people everywhere. I guess people have stuff to send out around the holidays, what with Kwanzaa and all. Makes sense. But I don’t need to get in any lines because I’m just here for stamps. So I start looking for the stamp vending machine. I look everywhere for that damn machine. It’s nowhere to be found.
Suddenly, I realize they don’t even have the old school stamp vending machines anymore. Now keep in mind that it’s been quite some time since I last set foot in a post office. I’m not hip to the post office vibe like some of you kids might be. I generally send my mail by carrier pigeon or pack mule. Post offices are obsolete in my world. But lucky for me, I’m a figure-outer. I soon figure out where I can obtain these mythical stamps: the Automated Postal Center.
A quick public service announcement to the United States Postal Service: The Automated Postal Center is the worst invention ever. Yes, I realize it’s handy. But you know what? You basically made it impossible to just buy stamps. Because now stamp-buyers have to compete with package-senders when at the post office. And that sucks balls. People who send packages via the APC are the same people that f**k up the U-Check at QFC. So even though I absolutely know that I’m capable of buying stamps from the APC in under one minute, I know nothing about the folks in front of me trying to send all these packages. Which means I could end up standing in line for days, if not weeks, just to buy some damn stamps. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? I’ll answer my own question: No, it doesn’t.
Anyway, that’s not where our story even comes close to ending. Oh no. I like to do things the hard way. Here’s an example of me being dumb.
I take one look at the line for the APC and I think to myself, that line is way too long. So I leave the post office. Without buying stamps. Because I know there’s another post office just down the road. I’ll go there instead. Maybe they’ll even have the old school stamp vending machine there (they didn’t).
I get to the other post office and the lines are much, much shorter. The line for the APC is only three people deep. I can handle that. This isn’t the first time I’ve been the caboose in a four-person train.
I get in the back of the line and wait. The lady currently at the APC is a wizard. She gets her package sent out in about a minute. Good work, I think to myself. I bet this woman has gone far in life. I want to high-five her as she’s leaving the building, but I don’t. Without explaining my entire stance on U-Checking and lines and my theory on most people sucking at that sort of thing, this poor lady might not understand why I’m high-fiving her. So I let it slide as she exits my life forever.
That’s when the sh*t hits the fan.
Let’s pause for a minute. (I know. We’re having quite a few of these sidetracks. Bear with me.) In most instances, when the sh*t hits the fan, you never see it coming. All of a sudden there’s sh*t everywhere and you have no idea where it came from. How did this happen, you think. What did I do to deserve this, you ask. Well this situation, as it played out before me, was much different than your usual fan-sh*t collision. Within seconds of watching the fairy godmother of the U-Check/APC disappear with a magical poof (I swear she had a halo over her head and a glowing aura, as well), I turn my attention back to the line I’m in and see the Grim Reaper’s next victim shuffling up to the machine.
As if in slow motion, I realize what’s about to occur. In the back of my mind, I faintly hear the voices in my head shouting, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” This old man, this zombie of a human being, is going to attempt to use this very machine. And he will undoubtedly fail. Because he is older than dirt. And — but soft, what’s this?! This man has not one package, not two packages, not three, four, or even five, but six — yes, SIX!!! — packages he is going to send using the APC. On my Facebook profile, I later compare the moment to the sense of futility we all once felt as children when playing Super Mario Brothers, paying witness to Mario falling off the same cliff over and over again as we failed to beat the same level through the allotment of our cache of lives.
Sensing the same thing I’ve just sensed, the middle-aged fellow directly in front of me in line pulls out a book — a book!! — and starts to read. Preparation is key. All I have is my smart phone and a Twitter feed to peruse. Devouring bits and pieces of people’s lives in 140 characters or less when you have nothing better to do can actually be quite entertaining. Only problem is, you quickly run out of things to read.
Wait, you ask, doesn’t your smart phone get any website in existence? Couldn’t you read so much more than just a Twitter feed? I could. But I’m already up-to-date on ESPN, Deadspin, and The Seattle Times for the day. Finding something else to read at this juncture would take me well beyond my comfort zone. Why do that to myself when I’m already uncomfortable standing here waiting for Old Man River to conquer technology?
At this point, I pull out a spoon and attempt to slit my wrists using a dull metal object. What? Like you don’t carry a spoon with you at all times? Whatever, man.
(That last paragraph would have been better if I had said spork instead of spoon. Pretend I said spork.)
That’s when the little dog starts barking. Yes, really. Some genius has tied their dog up outside the post office and left him there. This dog is not happy about being left alone and he’s not afraid to vocalize his feelings. This dog does not shut up. Some random lady even runs outside and yells at the dog, screaming at it to be quiet. (Because the screaming should calm this inferior beast down.) Oddly enough, the dog kind of looks like Wishbone. You know, assuming Wishbone was related to Satan and liked to get high on PCP.
Meanwhile, the oldest man in the universe continues to tinker with the APC. Every now and then he mutters to himself, the only apparent sign of life that emits from his
corpse body. It takes him ten minutes to print a shipping label for package number one. Ten minutes. Can you believe that? I keep looking around, hoping that somebody will put a stop to this madness. I’m not going to be the one to do it. I’m like Jermaine O’Neal. So long as Ron Artest starts the fight, I’m punching everybody who comes within six feet of me. Punching them right in the face. Or in this case, piling the pressure upon this redwood tree of a man should anyone else let him know that he needs to take his ass back to the nursing home and away from the touch screen of the APC. It’s slightly cowardly. But I’m not trying to gain a reputation as an enemy to the elderly.
Fifteen minutes later, I awake from a nap and see that Clint Eastwood’s grandpa is finally down to his final package. Naturally, before he pays any attention to package numero seis, he turns to the man with the book and makes a half-witty remark about this being “the last one.” And by half-witty I mean not witty at all. The man with the book barely glances up from the page. At least we’ve all silently agreed not to indulge this tortoise.
With all the urgency of a fat kid on the stairstepper, the old man turns around and encounters the APC once more. He diddles and daddles and dinks and doinks and within minutes he has completed the task. The lady behind me in line goes so far as to step forward, grab the final shipping label that prints out, hand it to the man, then usher him off to the side, lest he have any thoughts about returning to the battlefield.
The man with the book commits a rookie mistake by asking the old-timer if he’s done. I wait with bated breath. If old-timer says no, I’m bound to kick both men in the testicles. But before old-timer can respond, the lady behind me in line comes to the rescue once again, responding on behalf of the wily vet — “He’s done.” — and thus forcing the bookworm into action. Good defensive play, lady.
The bookworm gets his sh*t together and mails off his one package in under a minute. He walks away. And finally it’s just me and the APC.
“Well here we are, you son of a bitch,” I whisper as I step up to the screen. (Full disclosure: I don’t actually say this. But I am thinking it.)
I click on the button that asks me if I’d like to buy stamps. I absent-mindedly walk through the steps, no longer caring if the booklet that pops out features a bell or something more seasonal. Lucky for me, I get a non-denominational holiday booklet of stamps: wintry nature images, including pine cones and other sh*t like that. You better enjoy these f**king stamps, America. I’ve done a lot less for a lot more.
I grab my stamps (it takes me about 30 seconds to complete the transaction) and bounce. As I walk outside, the yap dog goes silent. He knows. Don’t f**k with this guy, he’s thinking. He’s not nearly as dumb as he looks.
I get in my car, head back to the office, wonder if QFC had these same effing stamps, kick my own ass, and get back to work. It’s the holiday season. We should all be this merry.
And on one final side note, you should know two things. One, none of what you just read had anything to do with sports (you may have already realized that, but I figured I’d alert everyone, since this is a sports website and all). And two, Christmastime is my favorite time of year. Still. Even after the debacle that was my afternoon. I love Christmas. I just wish people didn’t suck.