Saturday, August 7, 2010

Killing Time, Waiting for the Barbershop to Open

[Bloggers Note: This was written at 0805 this morning.]

So, here I am, sitting in the neighborhood Starbuck’s, early on a Saturday morning, nearly an hour to go before the barbershop opens, killing time. Why, you may ask, am I sitting here with time on my hands waiting for the barbershop to open? You know I’ve got to tell you. 

Yesterday, the postman left one of those dreaded little slips of paper saying he had tried to deliver a certified, very important, letter and I wasn’t home to receive it. I could sense the disdain. This important document would be waiting for me in the morning at the post office several miles from our home. I knew it was important because it was sent through the very important, even legally demanding processes of the U.S. Postal Service Certified Letter channels. It must be important for someone to go through the time and expense to send me a document in that way. In any case, I was now scheduled to report to the Post Office at 8:00 AM on Saturday morning.

I had been expecting some documents that might qualify for this process and at first thought nothing of this intrusion. Then I began to have doubts. What really awaited me at the Post Office? So far as I knew, I hadn’t offended anyone enough for them to be sending notice of impending litigation. I was confident that I had paid every dime, and more, probably, to my Uncle Sam. This couldn’t be a letter from the IRS threatening to take everything I owned, or ever will own, unless I promptly paid some amount approximately equal to the national debt as of today. No, it couldn’t be that. Still. . . All I could see was a mountain of legal bills piling ever higher. The future looked bleak.

I spent a restless night in anxious anticipation of morning, cursing the fact that I hadn’t been home when this nasty coupon was delivered. Perhaps I could have refused to accept the thing, or told him I had moved to Montana or something. By the time morning arrived I was in a state. I rose early and headed off to the post office. I hate waiting in lines, especially at the post office and even more especially when my life as I knew it appeared to be at an end. I haven’t yet learned the Benedictine virtue of patience.

A stroke of luck, I was there the moment the doors opened and I was the first customer at the counter. I stood and looked at the postal clerk. He gave me a puzzled look and I handed him the coupon. After a few minutes he returned with the envelope in his hands and a very serious look on his face. He told me to sign on the line displayed on the little electronic box permanently anchored to the counter next to me. (Who would steal one of those things?) I obediently signed and he handed me my fate.

I looked at the envelope and it bore the return address of one of the national political party’s congressional campaign committees. What could this be? Maybe they were coming to their senses and asking me to run for national office, recognizing, finally, the importance of having candidates of a certain maturity and wisdom? Were they looking for advice on a course of action for the future? It was about time.

I brightened, stood a little taller, and opened the envelope, ready to offer myself in service to my country with purpose and dignity. I began reading, “I regret the inconvenience sending this certified letter may have caused you, but . . .” It was a letter asking me to contribute big bucks (fat chance) to their campaign war chest. I drooped. It was a complete waste of time, all for nothing. So I went to Starbucks and wrote this little essay and now you’ve wasted your time reading it. So there. I’m going to get a haircut.

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