It’s the individuals, stupid

We have to be honest here — as a species homo sapiens is very fucked up.  We are violent, irrational, clannish, destructive, greedy, prone to hatreds, even in our religious life, which should incline us to love our fellow humans, to protect the weak, to oppose evil, instead of routinely burning starving heathen babies to death. Our work here, as a species, has long spoken for itself.  An angry homo sapiens given power will as often as not act as you would expect a weak, spiteful, pissed off ape to act.

Funny as it may sound to hear it from me, I strive to give a happy, or at least upbeat, ending to my stories.   This ongoing stand-off with the Post Office, although I act like there’s a larger principle about accountability involved, is also a story I am shakily driving toward a happy ending.   The missing element of hope has been provided by two lovely individuals in the Post Office I have spoken with about this, one on Monday, one on Friday.

Individual homo sapiens are capable of the most touchingly human acts.   Part of my distaste for hierarchy, and corporate structure, is that people are forced to act according to the will of their masters.  They must do things that many of us would not consider right in the name of feeding their family.   There is no choice in these situations, you do as you are told or take a goddamned hike and your family goes hungry — and until recently, without the possibility of affordable health insurance.

I called the number for D. McNeil, the first woman I spoke to at the Post Office.  She was out to lunch just now but her colleague was equally aghast, equally apologetic, equally generous with her time and sympathy.   It appears the office the complaint was forwarded to was the local Post Office, Umar’s place.  Umar, being the best situated Postal official, was supposed to investigate this complaint about himself, determine whether he’d done anything wrong, and get back to me.   In the meantime, he caused the rent check to my landlord to be sent back to me a second time.  Needless to say, Umar’s investigation of himself is ongoing and complex.

She told me at the end of a long call that she’d written down everything I’d told her, to add to the record.  I apologized for her writer’s cramp.  She laughed, told me she had taken shorthand in school.    “Must have come in handy,” I said.    She told me Ms. McNeil would call me when she comes back from lunch.

Apparently Mr. Umar didn’t cross out the barcode at the bottom of the envelope that told the machine to return the envelope to the customer instead of delivering it.  The woman I spoke to just now pointed this out, along with the fact that the machines cannot see arrows, even if Umar had drawn a dozen.   He should have known to cross out the errant barcode.   Unless he was being spiteful, which is my best theory.

“So either he was stupid or vengeful,” I said, “not to put words in your mouth.”  She laughed and told me she indeed hadn’t said that, but that Umar should have known.

I now have to hold the envelope up to a strong light, read the landlord’s contact phone number on the invoice, and let them know they will have the rent check I’ve been trying to send them for ten days, by Tuesday at the latest.  Meanwhile, I am off to the little local Queens post office where the staff is always so nice.  I am optimistic that they will be helpful.  If not, I’ll buy a stamp and send the damn thing again from their place.  

The women at the landlord’s office were cool, promised to call me when my check arrives.

Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of this asinine tale.  I am hoping to send you on to your next internet surfing stop with a smile of some kind on your face.   Remember: we are always dealing with individuals, as well as the systems that constrain them and often make them act like jerks accountable to nothing but their lowest nature.  As individuals, homo sapiens most often will not lynch, rape, burn villages, design weapons more terrible than you can imagine.  Individuals laugh, feel concerned about each other’s troubles and will most often try to help.  Like Bill Clinton famously said, as he was signing a law that would vastly increase the prison population,  “Ah feel your pain.”

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Coming soon:  the dark comedy thriller “I Married O.J.”

He was handsome, he was charismatic, he was hilarious. He was strong and rich and powerful and vowed he would always protect me…

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