Post pandemic angst in Cayucos

August 3, 2021

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.

By DELL FRANKLIN

Normally, I stay out of the post office unless it’s to buy stamps. I hardly ever send packages away, especially around Christmas, when the post office is a pocket of stress, but this time I was there to mail a book and some magazines to a friend in an assisted living facility down south.

Anyway, at first, when I went in, the post office was empty, but when I went to the back table to write down the address of where I was sending the package to, a woman who looked to be around 35 and perhaps a marathon runner, sans mask, stepped up to the man behind the counter. The other employee, a woman, began waiting on a young couple who had just come in toting an infant and tons of envelopes to mail. All three wore masks. I wore a mask.

So I waited while the marathon runner began, with great animation, talking down in a near rant to the masked man behind the counter. He has been working at this post office for at least three decades and I believe is its postmaster. He drove this old mini car for possibly thirty years. He’s a happy-go-lucky type of guy who for years has coached high school baseball teams, and while the lady gestured pointedly about not getting her mail, about obstructions to her mailbox, about how her health was at risk, he finally went back into a room and a few minutes later returned with photos of her home and block.

While he was doing this, she was shifting about, obviously unnerved by her personal situation of an allegedly negligent mail deliverer, obstructed mail box, incompetent post office, unsparing world, stress, health problems, and who knows what else.

When he returned and showed her the photos and tried to be accommodating, she began ranting that no, it was all wrong as she pointed feverishly at the photos, and it went on and on and on and on, and, as the cords in her neck pulsed and expanded, he began dealing with her like a man who had worked in a mental institution all his life, making every effort to remain calm, to placate and be reasonable.

By this time, I had been waiting around 15 minutes—I checked the new and first cell phone my sister had sent me a month ago after a health setback—and I was becoming impatient as the woman, increasingly irate in her dissatisfaction, sort of lunged at the counter, pointing in a stabbing motion, treating the employee with utter disrespect, as if he was an inferior human punching bag worthy of verbal abuse, showing no signs that she was finished with her harangue.

Her voice was relentless, strident, carping.

I studied her. She had short hair like a man’s, wore sweat pants, and a T-shirt. Had a small back pack on the counter. So far, I had not seen her face. But I wanted to see her face. I was trying to visualize what she looked like.

As I watched her, I recalled terrifying incidents in Charles Bukowski’s first novel of his exploits as an employee at the “Post Office.” Which I now need to reread, for his version of the post office was that it makes its employees crazy and therefore can make its customers crazy.

I could take it no more as the woman continued carrying on, the badgered employee lowering his mask to plead his case, promise this and that, growing weary from the nonstop assault.

“For God’s sake!” I said loudly. “Have mercy. Give the guy a break!”

She spun on me, face crazed with wild-eyed rage. “YOU CHILL!” she snarled like somebody high up in the ruling class.

“You chill,” I said calmly as she whirled back to face the postmaster. I glanced at the young couple and other employee, all of whom were looking away, as if refusing to witness a gory street scene.

I guess she was too obsessed with her case against the postmaster to turn again and screech at me. She was not through with her assault, and I wondered what it would be like if a man was coming at this employee like she was—maybe a fight—or if a man came at a female employee in such a brutally confrontational and downright nasty manner inviting retaliation. Or, if she would come at a female employee in such a brutalizing, bullying manner.

Anyway, the postmaster began making suggestions about moving the mail box, car parking, etc. She was calming down a very slight notch, not enough to be nice, to be understanding, to be merciful, or to accept any amenity he was offering, no, it was wholly about her, and my anger at being held up indefinitely at the post office began to wane, because it was not about me either.

I had all the time in the world. And, as I recalled the clenched, murderously enraged look on the woman’s face, I realized I should never have said anything to her, because clearly she was at the ragged edge of her sanity, deserved pity rather than scorn, had to be a tormented soul, and perhaps she was not alone in the teeth-gnashing aftermath of the dwindling pandemic that has driven most of America mad, and which might, in the future, prove more corrosive, explosive and tragic than we might have imagined.

Are we prepared for the onslaught of pandemic deranged Americans unleashed on society?

It’s happening on airplanes, where stewardesses are getting beaten up, and in other business venues where folks seem to “have had enough” and are on the verge of violence.

Anyway, after she stormed off, refusing to glance at me, I told the postmaster he deserved a medal for his perseverance and class.

“Oh, it’s just Friday,” he said, smiling.

And then we briefly discussed baseball.


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George Garrigues

“She had short hair like a man’s.”


Which man would that be?


CentralCoaster

Is this just a “Karen” moment?


notacatbutamama

The most amazing thing about DF’s stories are the split second judgments made on the basis of one’s appearance, and the refusal to give someone a break based on that. Change of heart only happens when the person can be lumped in with those he approves of. That poor lady never had a chance, given that she didn’t wear a mask, looked fit (possibly a marathon runner – perish the thought!), had short hair and acted like she had money. God forbid if she drove an SUV and not an old mini. Is it possible she had a real problem with important mail not being delivered (medication, money, legal documents, etc.), and felt it wasn’t being solved in a meaningful manner?


MrYan

Everything you say may be true, but it is not an excuse for boorish behavior on her part.


Unfortunately it is a byproduct of the recently transplanted “locals”. They are all important people–to be reckoned with.


It is a lot easier to be an A-hole in a City than in a small town, simply because I will tend to see you in the; Post Office, Super Market, and beach front. Again and again and again. She will learn her lesson the hard way.


They offer PO boxes at that same location. If she doesn’t like tourists blocking her mailbox, or is concerned about theft, she should avail herself to a PO box to ensure timely delivery. That is something she can control versus berating a civil servant about something (blocked mailboxes on street) that he cannot.


Your concern about snap judgements aside; Dell seems spot on to me.


Camus Redux

I don’t think that men in general like the “marathon runner look” on a woman. You have to wonder what it does to their body, all that training and working out. If you look at the women’s soccer and volleyball teams in the Tokyo Olympics, you see that they all have narrow hips and unremarkable waistlines and that they have a certain competitive edge. Maybe these women go into places like the post office and forget to leave that competitive edge at the door. Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t want to get stuck in line behind that Megan Rapinoe in any post office. And god help the postal worker on the other end, if her mail got lost or something.


Michele

We’ve all had a rough past year and a half. We don’t all throw tantrums in public places like 2 year olds.


Camus Redux

This has been the best year and a half of my life. I like staying in and I like watching Karen and Darren videos on Youtube.


sardonicsentiment

“pandemic deranged Americans unleashed” is quite a leap. I mean really, who hasn’t had issues with the post office?lol


Camus Redux

I know a guy that got in an ugly altercation with a mail-man in front of his girlfriend’s house. The mailman was trying to deliver mail but the guy’s car was in the way of a mail box and so the mailman yelled at him. This guy that I know, he took off after the mailman and threatened him with bodily harm and the cops came and almost arrested him and then to rub salt in his wounds. his girlfriend was so embarrassed by him that she snitched him out and wouldn’t let him back into her house. I guess it has been a rough year and a half for us. We’re all on edge.