Happy Wednesday. Or Thursday, if you're reading this tomorrow....which, as I look at the clock, you probably are.
Anyway. There have been a lot of changes at the Post Office recently. Changes in the way things are done higher up the chain of command and changes to the way things are done down on street level, where I work. One of the old-timers, who has been carrying the mail for the span of my entire life so far, remarked that he went out yesterday and he felt like he had when he was just starting out. After I asked him what it felt like to carry back then, with all those clay tablets, I started thinking about what I was like when I first started this job. I had some memorable days.
I remember one time I was delivering the mail in a particular neighborhood. I was so new I didn't even have a uniform yet. It was summertime, so I just wore gym shorts and a tee shirt. I was kind of paranoid about losing one of the keys they give you. There's the vehicle key, and the collection key. The collection key is the important one, since with it someone could open any mail collection box in the city, and any of the key-keepers people have set up to let us into apartment buildings and such. The collection key is on a chain that you are supposed to loop through your belt, anchoring the key to you and making it impossible to lose.
I lacked a belt. Gym shorts, remember?
So I improvised. There was a drawstring in the shorts, and it was one of those that is one continuous string. You didn't pull the ends out and tie them; I think there was supposed to be one of those plastic cinchy-thingies in there, but it was missing. All I had was a string with no end. So I put the chain through that, looped it through itself, and anchored it to me that way. Simple, right? And just to keep things more simple, I put the vehicle key on the same ring as the collection key. Now they were both anchored to me, and there was no way I could lose them.
Nothing to worry about, right?
So I was delivering a package in the neighborhood where I had just delivered the mail. I pulled up in front of the house, parked the mail truck, got out and waved to the little kids playing with a slip-n-slide in the front yard of the house, and went to the back of the truck to get the package. I used the vehicle key, on its chain, to unlock the rear door, rolled it up and saw that the package had slid forward in the cargo area, toward the front of the vehicle. I dropped the keys in my hand onto the deck of the cargo area, leaned in, and used both hands to get a grip on the package and pull it out. I straightened, reached up, and pulled the rear door down, shutting it. I took my package, started toward the house and was jerked to a stop in about a half a step.
I looked down.
I saw a chain leading from the drawstring around my waist leading straight back to the truck, and under the rear door. I grabbed the handle and pulled.
With the keys on the inside.
Well, no worries, I can just untie the...
I looked down at the one continuous string, with no knot, nothing to untie.
I peeked up the side of the truck, to where I had left the driver's side door open. It was only about eight feet away.
I can just drop the shorts real quick and run up to the open...
I looked at the yard I was parked next to. The one full of kids, ages... oh... I don't know... four to eight? Seven or eight kids?
Crap! I...uh... Crap! Crap, crap, crap-crap-crap!
I sat on the bumper, the package in my lap. I wondered just how the kids would react to a guy just dropping his pants in front of them and skivie-streaking up the sidewalk.
It didn't look good.
Now... it only took me a minute to think of a solution, but it was a hell of a long minute at the time. I used the chain like a saw to cut the string on the shorts and then just went around to the driver's side and went in that way, where I sat for another minute just laughing. Tension relief. I tied the drawstring the usual way, delivered the package and got the hell out of Dodge. I laughed about it for the rest of the day.
But I didn't tell anyone.
Remember this when you make your own mistakes and screw-ups. There's always a solution.
...and even if there isn't, at least there's someone out there who's at least as dumb as you are.
Talk to you later.
Oh, before I go, I should let you know that the comments function is working now, and I want to point out that there's a Guest Book as well. Please, stop by the guest book and say hi, let me know if anyone's actually reading this stuff!