Janet the postal worker is my hero.
There was no cape on that December day in downtown Ocala. No chivalrous rescue or lead-the-revolution battle charge. Just patience. Remarkable, nearly artful patience.
It was 8:45am-ish at the downtown post office when I found myself in a very long line. It was two weeks before Christmas, which–duh!–is prime time for long lines at a post office. To get to this line, you had to walk under a banner over the front door proclaiming the U.S. Postal Service is hiring.
In short: It was Christmastime at a post office that is short-handed.
There was one postal employee behind the counter, helping customers politely and efficiently, one by one by one.
“There’s only one person working?” bellowed the newest member of our sad conga line. “That’s disgusting.”
“Excuse me,” the woman said to the sole worker, “when will the others get here? Nine? This is ridiculous.”
She was theatrical, bolstered by a growing audience she assumed was in her court. “Disgusting.”
Meanwhile, Janet the postal worker carried on professionally, paying special attention to an agitated elderly gentleman.
None of us were particularly merry about the situation. We checked our watches and poked at our phones. Every few minutes, a customer would surrender and leave.
“You’re disgusted, too, huh? UNBELIEVABLE!” Betty McGripe-Gripe told the defeated, exiting customers. After 20 minutes, I gave up as well. But I left inconvenienced, not angry. This is just how things go sometimes.
“Ridiculous,” the crank groaned as I exited. “Wouldn’t you think the post office would have more people here during the holidays?” She spoke loud enough for Janet to hear, and to be sure, Janet could hear her. People in Reddick could hear her.
My guess is that Janet also wished there were more people behind that counter. She likely did not wake up that morning and say, “You know what? I am telling my colleagues to take the day off. I’ll run the show today and I hope it enrages everybody and ruins lots of holidays.”
Later in the day, I returned to the post office to try to mail my packages. There were more workers behind the counter and I was fortunate to get Janet’s window. As she handed me my receipts, I said, “I just want to thank you for your patience. I sincerely appreciate what you do.”
It was if I had handed her candy wrapped in cash. She paused, smiled a little and thanked me.
This is a long story with a short conclusion: Just be nice.
I witnessed a mere 20 minutes in the life of an overworked postal worker in a holiday morning rush. Chances are, there were many Betty McGripe-Gripes who gave my beloved Janet a hard time between my morning visit and my lunchtime visit.
Thus, I am setting my 2023 standards based on the Book of Janet. Be patient. Be professional. Be positive. Be nice. OS