Broken Promises, Post Office Wars, And a Rat Nest.

I promised the other day that I wouldn’t miss another posting day. I failed (quickly AND miserably.. oops!) at keeping this promise. In all honesty though? I’m not really that sorry.

Why? Because the whole goal of this blog is to remind you that while technology is amazing, it also tends to take over, and de-personalize (did I just make up  a word?) our lives. I would be “Super Hypocrite” (cape included) if I allowed this blog to take over and prevent me from living my life.

So what was I doing that was soooooo important?

Finishing my Christmas shopping, addressing and writing Christmas cards, and getting packages ready to mail. Kinda important since Christmas snuck up on me again this year. Damn holidays.. they always do that.

Today I finished getting my packages all wrapped, taped to the high heavens, and addressed. Then I hauled a giant freaking stack of boxes as big as me (I’m about 5′ 0″ for point of reference) to the Post Office. Thank god I have a jeep! When I got there, the line was just squeaking its way out the door. I had figured this would happen, so in preparation I had made sure that I had all 5 of my lives on Candy Crush available. (Ding Ding Ding – hypocrite alert! hypocrite alert!)

Instead of playing a game on my phone, however, I spent the time watching this unbelievably amazing phenomenon unfold right before my very eyes.

The Post Office has a Self Service machine that allows you to weigh your package, print out the postage, attach it to your package, and leave. All without ever.talking.to.a.real.live.person.

Today, it was broken. And the world just about came crashing down around it.

Customer, after customer, after customer came in, attempted to use the machine, realized it was broken, and started grumbling (some quietly under their breath, but most were loud and obnoxious) about how it was SUCH a hassle that the machine was broken, and now they were going to have to wait in the incredibly long line.

I started thinking about this, and realized we, as a society, no longer really want to talk to other people.

We’re basically all the most socially, antisocial people ever.

Self check out lines at the grocery store, online shopping, and self service machines, like my buddy here at the post office, have all eliminated the need to speak with a real, breathing, person. Hell, I prefer a text to a phone call for god’s sake! (It’s true. I screen phone calls like it’s my job.)

Back in the post office lobby, the grumpy people were forced to not only talk to a real person, but had to wait in line. Imagine, for a moment, how much louder that grumbling got.. Things were starting to get pretty ugly.

So who was the hero in this increasingly volatile situation?

The amazing postal worker who never skipped a beat. Not once. Not when someone was screaming at her that the machine was broken. Not when someone yelled about how long they had been waiting in line.  Not when she was completely chewed out and rudely informed that it was HER fault someone’s package wasn’t going to get to its intended destination in time.

Through it all she kept a smile on her face, and a “Happy Holidays” attitude.

When it was my turn, she looked at me and said “Next time, you bring all those packages to the front of the line, put them down, and then go wait. I don’t want you holding so many boxes for that long, you’re too small!” I usually hate being called small, but for her I smiled gratefully. She was being sweet and thoughtful to a complete stranger, in the middle of what was practically a mine field.

She made sure to give me the best (and cheapest) option to guarantee that my packages would get where they needed to go, and get there before Christmas. She made sure to get me the holiday themed stamps for my cards. She was warm, kind, and friendly. She was worth standing in line and waiting to talk to.

She made my day.

She could have been mean, and it would have been justifiable. She could have snapped at the complainers, pointing out that the line was incredibly long for everyone, the office was severely understaffed, and that she didn’t have time to fix the god damn broken machine. She could have retorted that it wasn’t her fault that the package couldn’t get to East Bum Shoe in time – and that the customer shouldn’t have waited until it was right down to the wire.

She could have, but she didn’t.

Her ability to maintain a calm, kind demeanor had an interesting effect on the people she was helping. They went from being giant flaming balls of super pissed off, to sheepishly thankful bunny rabbits (yeah, I’m not sure what happened there either, I drew a blank and panicked, so bunny rabbit it is.), all in a New York minute.

So what the heck is my point in this crazy, drawn out story that is about as long as the post office line?

Modern convenience is fantastic. Everyone (myself VERY much included) has had those days where you feel like hell, your nose is snotty, your hair is a giant rats nest on the top of your head, you’re so busy you can’t even think straight, and you just want to use the self checkout at CVS. I get it, I’ve been there. A little too frequently with the giant rats nest on top of my head…

What is also fantastic, though, is watching someone make a giant, scary man stop being a Grinch, and instead turn him into Cindy Lu Who without ever lifting a pinky. What is fantastic is having someone be concerned about how many boxes you’re carrying. What’s fantastic is human interaction that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

Next time you’re out shopping and have the opportunity to choose between real person, and self checkout, I challenge you to take the real person route. Toss a smile on your face, and ask them how they are and mean it. I can almost promise that you will brighten their day, and they, in turn, could completely make yours.

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