When I need to mail a package, I generally go to the Glassel Park Post Office near my home. It’s filthy, has only four parking spaces, and sucks a tenth of my soul out every time I visit, but it’s in my zip code and I feel a weird fealty towards it.
Yesterday, though, with an envelope that had to be sent priority, I decided to try a different branch. I was in Eagle Rock on another errand and thought maybe I’d have a more pleasant experience at their location. Maybe only a twentieth of my soul would be devoured–an improvement! Or maybe none would. Maybe it would be my first ever functional experience in an L.A. post office.
The parking lot had ample spaces, an immediate improvement. And the office itself, when I entered it, was bigger and cleaner. But there was still an air of numbness; I felt, as I always do in these situations, that I could light my eyebrows on fire and no one would look up from their smartphones. Bureaucracies have that effect on people. So do smartphones.
Me, I try not to use my phone when waiting in line. It’s so cliche. Not to mention, I hear that microboredom is becoming a problem, and I don’t want to succumb. So I try to just look around, take in the scenery.
After running my eyes over the usual “suspicious contents” posters, racks of bubble envelopes, and passport seeking stragglers, I noticed a plastic fishbowl on the counter. It sported a sign that said:
Grow your business. Drop your business card into the bowl.
And that was it. A few cards sat listlessly in the bottom, waiting for an opportunity that seemed unlikely to come.
“Huh,” I said, as the person in front of me got called and I moved up to the front of the line. “I wonder how that works.”
So when it was my turn I asked the clerk–a stolid lady with a plaid shirt and a matter-of-fact demeanor: “So just how does it grow my business?”
She looked at me blankly. “I’m sorry?”
I jacked my thumb at the fishbowl. “Putting my business card in there. How does it grow my business?”
She leaned over and looked at the fishbowl. Although it had clearly been sitting there for a long time, she regarded it as if it were new. She made a frowny face, then shook her head.
Now it was my turn to look confused. “No?”
She shrugged. “It does nothing.”
I nodded. “So, it’s just…there?”
She turned to the clerk in the next cubicle down, who, by now, had taken note of our conversation. “Lacy,” she said flatly. “What happens to the cards?”
Lacy was unhesitating.”Nothing. I don’t know why that thing is even there.”
I laughed, and so did they. And so did the person Lacy was helping. So that was good–I felt like I brought a little brightness to everyone’s day. Maybe broke up the microboredom just a micro-bit.
But I think I’ll go back to my regular branch. Clearly there is no such thing as a functional option.