It is Monday. I have been down to the post office this morning. I had a very important envelope to post for my son. I decided that rather than drive there and try to find a parking space, it would be quicker to go on the town bus to the main post office, using my free bus pass which stops 3 mins away at each end, and would also save the environment and car wear and tear, plus petrol. However, because I left my lightweight jacket at a friend’s house last night, I was probably 30 seconds looking for another suitable jacket to be seen wearing by my public on a bus, before rushing from my house to catch the next bus that passes every 20 minutes, give or take. I was consequently 15 seconds away from the point where I can wave down the bus as he passes the top of my road! The bus was a little early. So I missed it.
The very important envelope
At this point in time, realising that I could probably walk to the sub-post office on the bus route in the next 20 minutes before the next bus was due anyway, I set off walking, wearing my fleece on what has turned out to be a reasonably hot June day. So I took it off as I was striding along. Thank goodness I had left my dog walking shoes on. I had wanted to change into less sensible, more fashionable shoes as I was going into town, but knew I would miss my bus if I did.
There I was, walking through the less salubrious part of our town’s grotty council estate, carrying a belt bag with an expensive mobile phone, all my credit and debit cards and a substantial amount of cash. I was now carrying my fleece (a fleece in June – I ask you!), wearing a very low cut T-shirt, bouncing away as larger ladies are prone to do when they walk fast, wishing I had brought my fitter arthritic German shepherd dog with me!
I have never done a walk like this with my dogs, I tend to walk them in nice parkland away from public places, or locally where I live on the outskirts of town, and especially not through one of the worst areas of our town. And I never carry cash and cards with me even then. However, I am big and brave, so I walked through the smelly underpass I didn’t even know was there before, to get to the other side of a road because there was no footpath on my side of the road, hoping that this was not the time when the local yobbos were out and about. With any luck, they would be still in bed until lunchtime, wouldn’t they? I wonder why they don’t put a public loo somewhere adjacent to underpasses? Probably no-one would bother with them though anyway, it’s quicker to pause in an underpass I suppose.
I passed a scruffy looking man who reeked of booze, and was coughing and spluttering fit to bust as he passed me in the confined area. I’m amazed how long I was able to hold my breath so I didn’t inhale his unhealthy fumes or the dreadful pong emanating from the underpass. I tried not to bounce too much, and held my fleece higher up to try and cover my modesty. All this time I had my very important envelope clutched tightly in my grubby little hands, absolutely petrified someone would come along and snatch it, thinking it would be of some monetary value.
I wondered how long it would take to get to the better houses where there would be nice well kept pretty gardens which I have caught sight of on the bus, rather than these awful overgrown wildernesses with wheelie bins gaping open, old abandoned settees and fridges stashed in the unloved front gardens. It seemed like ages before I reached better civilisation and I heaved a sigh of relief. Do you know, some people even have a bamboo forest in their front gardens? Well, one house around here does. I wanted to open the gate and go in and explore, but I was in a hurry to reach the post office before the next post, and I didn’t think the owners of the bamboo forest would have been too chuffed to catch a skimpily clad stranger wandering around their front garden, clutching an envelope.
On I went inhaling deeply the scent from the beautiful pink bush roses hanging over one garden wall in particular. How evocative of my childhood days, and my aunt’s country garden they were, and I started to relax a little, and enjoy the walk. Maybe I will be able to take the air after all, when my old faithful, protective dogs pass on. If only I didn’t have to go through the bad areas to get to the better areas the other side of town. I will make sure I catch the bus next time!
I reached the post office without any other disconcerting event, having now had about five minutes of very enjoyable walking admiring gardens without worrying about my envelope’s safety, or that of me and my credit cards, mobile phone and cash. Of course there was a long queue. Why are they shutting post offices all over the place, when there is always a long queue at those that are left? I found a suitable sized envelope to fit the letter I was carrying. Unfortunately, the only one that it fitted apart from an A4 over-sized envelope, was one that said “Caution, do not bend” and had a cardboard back to it, presumably to protect photographs and the like. This would be expensive! It was a bit of an over protection for the now tightly rolled up envelope I was clutching in case anyone snatched it from me!
I then queued at the post office counter, and queued, and queued. Everyone has complicated post like me I suppose. Otherwise they would just stick far too many stamps on an envelope they had already weighed and checked the cost of to make sure they had paid enough to get it to its intended destination, like I had planned to do with the envelope in my hand, then taken it to the nearest post box to catch the late Friday afternoon post. That envelope would probably already be at its destination by now!
But my son wasn’t happy I had put four second class stamps on this envelope. It might cause problems in France, and might take longer than if it had the correct value postage and an airmail sticker on it. And was my writing clear enough anyway on the envelope I was forwarding? Was I sure it wouldn’t come back to me when a postal worker missed all my handwriting splurged all over the important envelope from HM whoever, and returned it to the original addressee? It needed to go in a fresh envelope, which I didn’t have, addressed in capital letters, not ‘real writing’ – my scrawl is virtually illegible, you know. Sigh!
However, I reached the front of the queue, heaving a sigh of relief that it was an efficient looking lady of about my age, well maybe a bit younger, and that she spoke fluent English. I explained the predicament, and asked the quickest way to get this very important envelope to its destination over the water on the east side of our country, without swimming. She was very friendly, understood exactly what I was saying, and looked up every option, like I had done earlier on the internet. I am happy to say that, without me prompting her, she came to the same conclusion that I had, so I’m not really as senile as people think! Unless she is too, of course.
Next came the bad bit. My envelope was very weighty. It would cost a lot more. “No worries”, I said, “Just as long as it gets there the quickest way possible.” So there it is, winging it’s way as I write, because it would have been collected very shortly after I handed it in.
I heaved a sigh of relief and went to find some food from the general stores part of this post office. By this time I was starving, and realised I had forgotten to eat any breakfast.
Back outside, I started walking to the nearest bus stop, noticing that yet another bus going into town was just reaching the point where it normally passes the bus on its return journey. I could probably muster up a bit of my remaining energy to sort of run if I saw my bus coming, couldn’t I? But it wasn’t necessary, I had enough time to get there and within a minute it was coming around the corner. Why hadn’t I bought a stack of different sized envelopes and stamps of various denominations while I was in that post office? But I hadn’t time to go back for them, I needed to be somewhere in another half hour.
There was no way I was ever going to walk that same route alone again!