I mailed a small package on Thursday…the box was one of those extra-small flat-rate Priority Mail things…whatever you can stuff into the box gets shipped for $4.95 & the promised delivery time is 2 days…. I didn’t have time to go to the post office (partly because I don’t like going to the post office), so I covered the thing with $4.95 worth of stamps (which the USPS website said was okay to do) & dropped it in a mailbox not far from where I live…. it weighed less than 16 ounces, so I figured no problem…. 2 days later — today — the package came back to me with a big blue sticker on it covering the addressee’s info…. it said “IMPORTANT CUSTOMER INFORMATION We regret that your mail was not collected or is being returned to you due to heightened security requirements. All mail that bears postage stamps & weighs more than 13 ounces MUST be taken by the customer to a retail service associate at a Post Office.”…. so I guess my mail carrier had to risk his life to climb up my stairs to lean the box against my door before it exploded into a billion tiny bits…. the little box had journeyed from the mail box to the post office to the sorting room to the mail truck without incident…but it could not make its journey on to its destination in Minnesota because it had stamps on it & had not been handed over in person to an official postal worker in an official postal building where it would’ve been thrown into a bin, loaded onto a plane & sent to its destination without incident…. & now I must waste gas & time to take the little white box to the PO on Monday so that I can officially hand it over the counter to an official postal worker so that the thing can (hopefully) finally get on its way to the person who is now e-mailing me to ask why he hasn’t received it…. the absurdities of life in the 21st century are staggering sometimes…. I mean, like, the PO prints out millions of commemorative stamps each year but then returns a package because it has stamps on it…. somewhere along the way (& I guess I missed this one somehow) it was determined that stamps on a small package in a mailbox indicate something evil or dangerous…. & yes I know, 9-11 & the Unibomber & Anthrax & all that but…how far out of whack must fear & greed take us???? I remember a time when it was actually fun to fly in an airplane…it was a luxury…. you could carry your own food on the plane if you didn’t want one of those funny-tasting airline toaster-oven meals…you could bring as many bags of luggage as you wanted to…there were free peanuts & $2 drinks…why sometimes there would even be an empty seat in the middle of the row so that you didn’t have sit for 3 hours with some stranger’s elbow in your rib…. now passengers are squished into seats like oily sardines…an alcoholic beverage costs $7 & can only be paid for with plastic…there’s no free lunch (a guy sitting next to me on a flight recently had to fork over 7 bucks for a small can of Pringles)…many airlines charge $20-25 to check a bag…& just to get to the gate you have to take off your shoes, bare your laptop, take off your jacket & stow your mini shampoo bottle in a 1 quart plastic bag…. then you’re good to go to be x-rayed…. & then back on with the shoes & off to an overpriced airport 7-11 type place to buy the coffee & food & water that you used to be able to bring on for free…. maybe everyone in every generation goes through a phase of aging where it seems that life has gotten too complicated…. I can only speak for myself, but I am there…. every day is a challenge in trying to out-think the Big Brother…. if I park here for 2 hours on Tuesday will I get a $50 ticket…if I use stamps & a mailbox will the PO think its an incendiary device…will the bank fine me $35 for being a day late & a dollar short…will the TSA take my Snickers bar away from me…if I misjudge & drive through the intersection at Arden & Howe at just the wrong nano-second, will the magic flash go off to be followed by a mugshot & a $450 bill in the mail…. yep ya wake up get up thank god get dressed but you know for sure that once you go out the door your sanity is up for grabs…. & on Monday I’ll go to the post office & maybe the official worker will take the box & leave the stamps or maybe I will have get a new box & repackage my atomic bomb & then buy one of those bar-coded sticker-postage thingies that will prove that my package is on the up & up & then homeward bound…all the while wondering as I drive, what day is this? do I park on the east or west side of the street? & I gotta remember not to park more than 18 inches from the curb & watch out for the cameras at J & Alhambra….
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