But mostly the post office.
I have this sick fascination with the post office. I think the postal service is nothing short of a miracle. I can write your address on an envelope, slap on a stamp, slide that bad boy in a box on the street and it gets to your house. Your house, which can be anywhere in the world. Your house, which can be a gazillion miles away from my house. And it costs less than a cup of coffee. Less than a CHEAP cup of coffee. We’re talking the SMALL coffee at Tim Hortons. We’re talking Dunkin’ Donuts, people.
It floors me every time.
I’m so enamored with the postal service that I create painted letters to send to people in the mail. This is how much I love letters, envelopes and stamps. I even worked in advertising for 102 years and wrote letters on behalf of Fortune 500 companies so I could be close to letters, envelopes and stamps.
Sick fascination. Sick.
When I was a kid, summer mornings were spent in eager anticipation of the arrival of the mail. The Canadian Tire flyer: AWESOME. The seed catalog: DOUBLE AWESOME. And the year I was part of the Quik Fan Club? TRIPLE AWESOME.
So when my sister mailed me a package here to Paris and I didn’t receive it, I went to my local post office to inquire. This is a monumental effort, of course, because I have to deal with all this speaking French. But, my sister sent my mugs from my old apartment in Santa Monica and a chocolate brown blanket that will hide all my coffee dribbles when I curl up in it with my morning brew. AWESOME!!!!
My hand was shaking when I gave the lady my printout from Canada Post that stated the package was somewhere in France, sitting alone, waiting for me. She typed in the tracking number and informed me that yes, the package had arrived. Yes, it sat for two weeks. No one claimed it so they sent it back to Canada.
I said that no one had sent me a notice to let me know when it arrived and where to pick it up. She shrugged.
She effing shrugged.
She handed back the Canada Post printout. Then my hands were shaking for a different reason.
Merci you m@#$W#$$EWRQ$#TFF#$%$#!!!
I walked away seething. And of course, during all this I had Santa sack of my painted letters to send out for the July mailing. I was going to take them on the BatoBus river boat to the Eiffel Tower because I heard they use a special Eiffel Tower stamp to cancel the letters sent from there.
This is what I do. I will take a whole afternoon, drag a massive bag across the city JUST so readers can see that Eiffel Tower stamp. And I do it because I love this service, I love sending letters, I love the post office. Love, love, love it all.
But all I could think on the boat ride was that everyone who ever had anything to do with letters and the post office was an asshole. That France itself was an asshole.
I even called God an asshole.
And just to be super all-encompassing yet non-denominational about it, I called the universe an asshole, too.
Because clearly the universe fucked me over for a reason and there is a lesson in this somewhere. It’s probably my fault in some way. Probably could have been kinder to someone or done something extra. Probably didn’t have enough love in my heart. I probably should have used more floss and fewer Q-tips. Or maybe I was being asked to say goodbye to the mugs from Santa Monica and the life they represented. Was I being asked to move forward into this new life?
When I arrived at the Eiffel Tower, I stood under the big brown beast, looked up and thought one thing, “Eiffel was not an asshole.” I took a breath and walked my big bag of letters over to the little postal box, which is the gateway to getting these letters literally around the world. “This postal box is not an asshole.” A guy sitting nearby smiled at me as I slipped handful after handful into the box. He had a nice smile. “He’s not an asshole.”
I bought a postcard to send to Christophe because he’s not an asshole either. And he’d like a fun postcard. Plus, I wanted to test the theory of the special Eiffel Tower stamp. They only had a vending machine where you could buy a stamp to put on your postcard. Instead of giving me a pretty stamp, maybe even something Eiffel Tower-ish, the machine spit out this looker, which is a fine stamp if you’re sending something to the gas company, but hardly something you want to slap on the back of a postcard: