Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Vortex of Holiday Horror That Is My Post Office

The U.S. post office is already the worst place on Earth. Let's just clear that up right now. It's musty. There's a glass case that holds just boxes that look like they've been there since 1910. And postal workers always look like they just walked out of a showing of Schindler's List

But then a few months ago they shut down my post office and started re-routing the mail to another location. That's when the U.S. post office (particularly my branch) became the worst place in the universe.

But let's back up a few years, so you can hear everything that brought me to this conclusion.

It all started with an eviction notice. After my landlord bought the building I live in, the man who used to own the building just continued to live in his apartment on the first floor like nothing had changed, like some kind of Miss Havisham of building ownership. The city finally put up an official eviction notice. He moved out or was lost in an unfortunate wedding dress fire. I'm not sure what happened. But a week after I moved in, the eviction notice was still on the door downstairs. And although it specified that it was for only the first floor apartment, the mailman just continued not delivering my mail, assuming I was living there illegally. I left him notes. I called the post office. I wasn't getting any bills or checks. I finally had to walk down to the post office to confront him and convince him I wasn't a squatter. Reluctantly, the mailman finally agreed to give me my mail. But you could tell that he wasn't happy about it. You can imagine him as Newman if it helps you picture the delight the mailman had felt about standing between me and my mail.

The second time I had to go down to the post office and yell at people came when I noticed someone had been opening my mail. A Christmas card from my grandma showed up torn just so. A bill dangling out of its envelope. I filed a complaint. What can I say? I'm 1) suspicious and 2) a complainer. After I complained, my mail started turning up in perfect condition again. Odd.

But nothing prepared me for our post office branch being closed and integrated into another one.

Last week, I walked over to collect a package of things I had ordered online. If it helps garner sympathy to my situation, you can imagine these things were Christmas gifts for poor children. When I walked in, the line had 20 or more people in it, all of us trying to collect and mail packages for the holidays. Now, if you are familiar with standing in line at the worst post office in the universe, you already know how this works. There is one person at the front of the line who doesn't understand 1) how to swipe a credit card 2) cardboard boxes 3) that shipping live animals is illegal 4) why the post office won't take a check 5) why her son won't pick up her packages for her even though he has a car. She has 187,000 questions about every little aspect of shipping her package to Germany and, no, she doesn't have the address or know the name of the intended recipient. And with that, the line comes to a complete halt. By the time I left that day, blood shooting from my eyeballs, there were over 40 people standing in line. The line was so long, no one knew where to stand anymore and it just kind of coiled in the doorway.

The next day I had another pink slip. Another package to pick up.

Now, all of my issues would be resolved if the mailman would just leave my packages so I wouldn't have to go down there, but if you'll recall, my mailman is Newman and is still mad at me for yelling at him those [two] times. So, he leaves me pink slips instead and giggles all the way back to his mail truck.

I decided to go as early in the day as possible. It was 11 AM when I walked through the door. There were three people in line. I silently congratulated myself. And then I stood, and stood, and stood, and stood there. For twenty minutes. I was third in line for 20 minutes. The customer at the window was like, "When did it start to cost money to send things? I demand to see a manager!" Finally, she left. The line moved forward, and soon I was first in line.

Now, you're probably thinking that being first in line means that I'm next. You silly, silly person.

When my turn came up, a middle-aged dude in a huge hurry rushed to the window. "SOMEONE ELSE WILL HAVE TO WAIT ON YOU," he said to me and then said to the worker, "I'm just getting one thing. I just need a box to wrap something. It's in my car. I'm in a huge hurry and I'm not waiting in that line. Have you seen that line? Why don't you have more windows open?"

Another ten minutes went by.

I finally got my package after thirty minutes and trudged home to rethink my life choices.

The next day, I had another pink slip.

Frodo had it so good. He only had to go the one time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's a Wonderful MURDER: Part 2 (now featuring MORE MURDER)

I've been watching lots of episodes of The Wire in preparation to write...

It's a Wonderful MURDER: Part 2 (now featuring MORE MURDER)

When last we visited Detective Clarence, hot in the pursuit of the infamous Bedford Falls murderer, George Bailey, he was just preparing to leave the city morgue in search of "the big guns." The big guns he was referring to was his partner, a crack detective with 25 years of experience on the force. The locals called him "Burt the Cop."

Detective Clarence knew he wouldn't have to look far to find Burt. He was probably at Martini's Strip Club trying to forget in the only way he knew how.

Clarence found him there and sat down at the bar right next to him.

"Clarence. Remember those days on the force when life was really bad around Bedford Falls?" Burt slurred, sipping from his glass of cordial.

Clarence nodded. "I remember."

"Women on the street showing all that leg. Guys crashing their cars into innocent trees. Speeders."

"There's a murderer on the loose, Burt. I need your help."

Burt swallowed the last of his cinnamon liqueur and said, "A murderer, eh? At least it's not something more serious, like loiterers. Let's go."

Now, you're probably wondering about the whereabouts of one Mr. George Bailey, murderer and all-around town nuisance. Well, he was holed up in the back of Old Man Gower's crack den, plotting his next move.

"I need to take out Mary the Mouth," he said, referring to his ex and former associate, Mary Hatch. She was known as "the Mouth" for two reasons: her inability to keep her trap shut when talking to the police and the fact that she kept her teeth sparkling white and beautiful. George Bailey opened a new box of Christmas lights and began checking the bulbs. An angel would be getting her wings that night.

"Where are we going, Clarence?" Detective Burt asked.

"To the only person who can help us," Clarence replied, pushing his foot to the floor. Soon, the car was speeding through the streets of Bedford Falls at over 30 miles per hour.

"Who's that?" Burt asked.

"Mary the Mouth," Clarence replied.

They arrived just as Mary the Mouth was leaving the library. She wasn't a librarian, just a kleptomaniac with a penchant for good books.

"Hey, fellas," Mary said, flashing her sparkling teeth at both of them and clutching her coat closely around herself.

"Whatcha got in the coat?" Clarence asked.

"Awwww, come on. I'm clean," Mary replied.

"It sure doesn't look that way," Burt said.

"I've been off the stuff for six months," Mary said.

"You're lying, Mary," Clarence said. "I see a copy of War and Peace right there."

"I'm holding that for a friend," Mary said.

"We're gonna have to take you in, Mary. We need to talk about George," Burt said.

Hearing the name, Mary screamed and tried to run away, but Clarence caught her arm. Books of all trim sizes, age levels, and page counts fell from her coat.

"You tell us where George is and we won't run you in for library book theft," Detective Clarence said.

"I don't know where he is," Mary said, still struggling to get away.

"Don't lie to us, Mary," Burt said. He dangled a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in front of her face.

"Fine!" Mary shouted. "Anyone looking for George Bailey should head over to see Big Chief Potter. But that's all I'm saying!" Mary the Mouth grabbed the book and scampered away as quickly as she could.

"I guess we're going to head over to that casino with the super racist name then," Detective Clarence said.

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's a Wonderful MURDER

Christmas is on its way, and you know what that means? If you guessed that murder is afoot, you win a prize. So just let me know where I can mail your yule log. (I hope your mailbox is flame retardant.)

I just realized it's been two long years since "The Baby Jesus vs. the Santanator," a tale that my mother called "definitely sacrilegious" and the New York Times said nothing about as they are still unaware of it. It's time for a new Christmas story for 2012. So, put out some metal cookies for the Santanator and hug your Joseph Gordon-Levitt sex pillow tight and let's get this Christmas season started with...

It's a Wonderful MURDER

"Look at this picture. Do you recognize this man? His name is George Bailey, and he's wanted in five states. If you'll watch this black and white footage of George Bailey as a child on the enclosed video cassette, you'll see that even early in his life, he was a dangerous individual. Watch closely the part where he tries to drown his brother. Taken out of context with the sound off, it's extremely chilling. So chilling it might make you deaf in one ear and want to shake the dust of this crummy little town off your feet and see the world. Therefore, I'm depending on you, Detective Clarence, to go out there and apprehend this dangerous criminal. Godspeed." --Police Chief Joseph

Detective Clarence rolled up the unnecessarily jolly WANTED scroll he had received from the chief of police that morning (along with his homicide department Secret Santa pick) and buttoned his coat against the cold early-December wind. "Christmas is a time for sharing," the detective mumbled aloud as he took a swig from his flask. "I'll be sharing these bracelets with this George Bailey come Christmas." He was, of course, referring to the police lingo for handcuffs and certainly not a diamond tennis bracelet, which would make a perfect gift for the woman you love so that she can tell all of her best friends that you went to Kay Jewelers.

The latest of George Bailey's victims had just been freshly-delivered to the city morgue. Cause of death was still unknown, but there were lasso marks around the victim's throat. Detective Clarence hopped into his car, which was an unmarked police car and definitely not a Lexus wrapped in a big red bow, but that gives me ideas for Christmas presents for the woman you love if she's not into tennis bracelets. He sped to the city morgue to investigate.

"The vic is pretty messed up," said the coroner, pulling back the sheet to reveal an extremely jolly (but extremely dead) face. "We haven't found anyone to identify the body yet, but we suspect it to be the suspect's Uncle Billy. And sorry about my speech impediment. I pronounce 'suspect' and 'suspect' exactly the same way."

Detective Clarence pulled a photo from the case file he carried with him. "It's Uncle Billy all right. AKA, the Forgetter. He's a world famous jewel thief. But he's not actually wanted by the authorities because he always leaves the loot behind. See the strings on all his fingers?"

The coroner nodded. "Why do you think Bailey killed him?"

Clarence snorted. "For no other reason than being a sicko. And that Uncle Billy owed him $8,000 he lost gambling at Big Chief Potter's Gambling Emporium and Reservation."

"Wow, what a racist name that place has," the coroner commented, sure to express that he had absolutely nothing to do with the naming of that establishment and blames the author.

The detective nodded silently. He was looking closely at the corpse. "I just don't understand why this Bailey likes to decorate his victims like Christmas trees, meticulously checking every bulb to make sure that none of them need to be replaced and wrapping them in tinsel." Then, he got an idea. He carried the Christmas light cord to an outlet and plugged the corpse in. A bell went off in Clarence's head as the lights revealed that they were arranged like angel's wings. It was the killer's calling card.

"I'm gonna need to call in the big guns on this one," Detective Clarence said. He was, of course, referring to metaphorical guns and not actual guns, which make great gifts for the woman you love, if she's a professional sharpshooter and definitely not into tennis bracelets or expensive, unnecessarily gift-wrapped cars.

To be continued...