There is a woman on my route, and this woman is a Terror. BL lives in some of the old-age housing I deliver to, and she's the most famous person on my route. You ask anyone in the town I deliver in, "Hey, do you know BL?" They all have the same reaction. An eye-roll, a look Heavenward, and a "Oh, yeah. I know BL." Some of them add in a wince first.
See? Famous. Or infamous. Whatever. I'll just call her the Terror.
The Terror is a crotchety woman with a powerful, if rusty sounding, voice. The kind of voice that makes you think of a crow gargling with barbed wire. Or, as she would say, "Bahb'd wi-yah!"
The Terror is an older woman who loves sharing. In other words, whenever she is unhappy she likes to spread it around. Some people spread their unhappiness with a shovel, but the Terror uses a spreader. The kind you tow with an ATV or tractor, and usually use for manure. And the Terror is usually unhappy.
The hard part is knowing what is going to make the Terror unhappy that day. It varies from day to day, and you kind of have to know what side of an issue to come down on in order to avoid her wrath.
I'll give you an example.
The Terror has a son. Let us refer to him from now on as The Poor Bastard. For a few months, a couple of years ago, some of TPB's mail was coming to his mother's address. The Terror would meet me in the hall sometimes, getting her mail hand-delivered rather than having to wrestle it out of the small wall-box each unit in the complex has. I would hand her TPB's mail along with her own, and the Terror never complained. She would stand there, bellowing at me like a cow in gastric distress about the people who were parking out front (they shouldn't pahk thaya!), the Housing Authority men who care for the grounds (I don't think they know what they're doing!), and her neighbors; specifically the tenants in the other three units in the building (They ahn't very considerate!). She did all this at a vocal level that virtually ensured that everyone within a seven-block radius knew exactly what was bothering her. She never complained about getting her son's mail though. And she would have complained. And, believe me, I wouldn't have missed it!
Then, one day, in a voice usually reserved for shouting 'Who's that trip-trapping across my bridge', I heard "I got a bunch of TPB's mail (except that she called it 'may-yal'), and he doesn't live here! (live he-yah!)"
I faltered in my sorting.
"Yes," I ventured, "but he's your son, and you've been taking TPB's mail for months."
"But he doesn't live here!"
"I know that, but -"
"He doesn't live here!"
The volume was rising to deafening levels. I would have covered my ears if my hands had not been full.
"I understand that, Ma'am, so -"
"He doesn't live here. You take this back."
She thrust a claw-like hand in my direction, and in it I saw a thick bundle of mail.
"Ma'am, if I take that back it'll all be returned to sender. Wouldn't it be easier for TPB if you gave him that and I just made sure-"
"He doesn't live here!"
Her stance and attitude said clearly that she was utterly disgusted with me and prepared to stand there thrusting that bundle at me until God took one of us Home, and she had no intention of being the one to go first. Since she was standing in front of the exit, I was pretty well trapped in there with her, unless I wanted to physically move her. I calculated the odds involved with a physical confrontation, trying to figure whether I could take her or not.
I bowed my head and took the mail.
Since there was no forward in place for TPB, all his mail was returned to sender, just like I said.
Two weeks later ...
I was standing in the Terror's cave, excuse me I meant 'entry hall', sorting the mail for the building and her door opened.
I braced myself.
"My son TPB is waiting for his phone. He got a new phone and they were mailing it to him and it hasn't shown up yet. Why is that?"
The 10% of our brains that we all use came to my rescue and threw out a question. The other 90% of my brain was busy remembering the small box for TPB that I had Returned to Sender just two days before and screaming 'Why me?'
"It's being sent here?"
"Yes. Where is it?" She was plaintive and accusatory at the same time.
"But ... Ma'am, you, ... TPB doesn't live here."
"I know that! But I'm his mother!" She was actually shouting 'mothah'.
"Yes, but you sent all his mail back because he-"
"I'm his mother!"
"Yes Ma'am. I'll see what I can do."
"You better. Somebody better!"
I staggered back out of the cave - sorry, the hall, into the sunlight. After dealing with the Terror in her cave of a front hall it really did seem like a different world outside with the grass and the birds. I finished my route and went back to the office at the end of the day. Waiting on my route's workbench was a note. The Terror had called to talk to my supervisor and,eventually, the Postmaster. The subject of the call was my incompetence, and her dissatisfaction with my service in general.
I put the note in my drawer to look at again in the morning, and went off to the locker room. I had to try to wipe off the tire-tracks from where the Terror had run me down with that spreader...
More about the Terror in future posts.
Talk to you later!