February 6, 2012

all roads lead to new york

I've recently had a revelation. New York, as well as being the setting for some of my favorite movies and a place where you can sit on a bus next to a man painted silver and have a perfectly rational conversation with him - true story - is also, I'm now sure, the origins of the phrase "Going Postal".

Up until now, I've long assumed that Going Postal referred to postal workers, which, frankly, always had me stumped. Most postal workers I've come across have been nothing by nice. I like going to the post office. My grandfather was a mail carrier and he wasn't any crazier than the rest of us. In my experience, the term should be Going DMVal, although I admit, that isn't as catchy. And Will and I used to refer to the bus drivers in Dublin as Going Transit, because they were all nuts, and drove like it too.

But here the bus drivers are (mostly) nice. There was that one who wouldn't let me on the bus with my groceries, but by and large, they are a good lot. And as I don't drive here I haven't had any contact with the New York DMV. Maybe that's the ticket. There's less need for meanie DMV people so they send the extras to the post office. One post office, to be exact.

Which brings me to my revelation. Going Postal, I'm now completely convinced, is a term that refers to how you feel when you have to visit the 104th street Post Office on the Upper West Side. That little brown slip of paper in your mailbox strikes fear into the heart of everyone in a thirty block radius.

"Oh no!" we say. "We have to go to THE POST OFFICE!!!!"

I assure you, I'm not the only one who feels this way. After spending a baffled 40 minutes waiting in one line to mail a package a few months ago, I told them I also needed to pick up a box.

There were sighs, and eye rollings, and curled upper lips and then:

"You have to go to that line to pick up a parcel." Motioning to the loooong line at the far end of the room.
"But I just stood in this line." I said (perfectly reasonably, I might add)
"This line isn't for picking up packages. Next!"

I should, probably, have pushed back, but I didn't, I went to the long line which moved at a snails pace toward the window. Eventually I got to the front and handed in my slip.

More sighs.

"Well, I'll try to find it for you.I guess."

While he was gone I turned to the man behind me. "Isn't that what this line is for?" I asked, confused.

"It's always like that here. It's the worst post office in the city. Everyone knows that.They're horrible."


And it's been true. Every time I go to this post office, I feel a little postal. I've taken to hoarding my missed package cards so that I don't have to go as often. Or I send Will. Even the much nicer folks in the closer-but-not-in-charge-of-packages post office seem to fear the people at 104th.

"Oh, sorry, you'll have to go there for that. I'm really, really sorry about that."

So there you go. Going Postal. All down to the meanest post office in New York.

I have a "final notice" card sitting in my kitchen that I'm kinda dreading. Can you tell?