If one lives long enough, very little surprises one . . . or, at least, so they say.
As mentioned in previous blogs, virtually every day I bike to the post office. It’s a twelve mile round-tripper and given the beastly heat lately, I am pretty much just blowing sweat out of every sweat blow hole and pore by the time I get there.
Anyway, today I forgot to fill out the custom form before I left home. Since one of my books was going to China, the form is mandatory. And I knew it. I even have a dozen blank forms here in this word mine I call my office to fill out at my leisure thus sparing the need to do it at the P.O. So, why then did this big bad bald blogger forget to fill one out before he got all the way to the post office counter today? There’s the rub, there’s the riddle, there too is the reason one should never take one’s self too seriously. Stupidity keeps the humility in all of us and helps us stay humble.
And so, I grab a pen, leave the line I had been waiting patiently in for ten minutes, and go fill out the custom form in a quiet corner—maybe two minutes of filling--then jump back at the end of the line--maybe ten people ahead of me. Ten minutes more--once again it’s my turn—“Next,” says the lady. I proceed promptly, if a bit shamefully. Then came the unmistakable sound of plastic hitting the floor followed by the thump that a size eleven flip-flop makes when it kicks a credit card plunk under a counter.
Holy crapoly! After a scurry and a scramble on the floor to retrieve it, it became obvious that said card had flown with uncanny perfection straight under the counter in a space a razor blade would be hard pressed to pass. Clearly, it was a million in one slap shot.
Anyway, the lady at the counter stopped what she was doing to look for it on her side; nothing. A gal behind me in line kept insisting that from her high vantage point—she was a bit too “ample” to bend over—that she could see the card poking out; but from my eye-level view on the floor itself I was just as insistent that it was not the card she saw, but a small white cord. “Rita,” the post office manager came over and looked for it (since she is on the "ample" side herself, that was no minor event). Nothing. Meanwhile, I am still crawling on the floor like an amphibian and still pouring sweat (I must have looked to those in the increasingly long line behind me like some desperate drug addict looking for his meth pipe or maybe a drenched drunk looking for his “lost shaker of salt.”). Finally, Ken the custodian came and with calm mien, patient confidence and a flashlight he plucked the effing thing from the dirt, dust and crud where it was lying.
I again went all the way to the back of the line, maybe 20 geezers deep. The good ladies behind the counter, feeling pity on me, tried to get me to jump the line but as I told them, “Thanks, but this is my punishment . . . this is my penance for being so stupid today.”