Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: MAIL (02/18/16)
- TITLE: Christmas Rush
By Jennifer Woodley
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‘How many?’ Joy asked as she changed the date stamp and switched on the computer.
‘Fifteen letter and twelve parcel bags’ Daniel replied.
Joy gave a long whistle. ‘That’s the biggest delivery yet!’ she exclaimed and braced herself for a very long day. Even at this early hour, she was tired. Running a post office in the festive season left her with little space to either enjoy the season’s festivities, or more importantly, to slow down and contemplate the real meaning of the season.
‘What a mad time of the year to begin managing a post office.’ Daniel would moan.
‘Well at least we’re learning everything, all at once!’ Joy laughed, and in the evenings they discussed the ups and downs of post office life together, while falling utterly exhausted into lounge chairs, too spent to do anything else.
Joy snapped over the bold, black numerals on the wall calendar to ‘18’ and offering up a brief prayer of strength, was ready to meet the onslaught of customers outside. ‘Good morning’ she said opening the door to smiling faces eager to be first in line.
The morning slowly meandered on, the summer heat rose steadily, and Joy smiled wearily listening to customers complain about misdirected or lost mail, slow delivery services, damaged parcels or neglectful mail contractors. Pushing her own not-so-nice thoughts aside, she determined to remain patient, considerate and gracious despite the slowness of time, heat of the day and grumbling customers. Joy wondered, ‘How can I be completely attentive and caring to the face in front of me when there are probably 30 slowly-becoming-hot-under-the-collar people in the queue behind?’ She pushed the central fan switch up a little higher. ‘A cool blast of air might help to chill bodies and minds this morning.’
A large man plonked, what seemed like an even larger parcel, on the scales. ‘Chicago, by Christmas’ he demanded.
‘Sure’ Joy smiled. ‘Registered or not?’
‘Registered’ he responded tersely.
‘He’s obviously not having a good morning’ Joy mused to herself. She decided to be sweet-as-apple-pie to him. Weighing the parcel, she then skipped through the screens, checked his ID and printed a label. ‘That will be $104.50’ she said. The man reeled at the exorbitant price declaring loudly that postage costs were highway robbery and it would be almost cheaper for him to deliver the parcel himself.
Joy resisted the wicked temptation to say, ‘be my guest.’ He snatched up his parcel and left, leaving a trail of staring eyes following him.
Somewhere back in the line a child screamed and a mother dropped her bundle spilling Christmas mail out across the floor. Customers turned and bent down to help the frustrated woman.
Regathering her thoughts, refocusing her attention, Joy began again. ‘Good morning, how can I help you?’ An elderly, tired looking woman asked for 150 domestic Christmas stamps. She placed her shopping bag full of mail on the counter and asked if Joy could ‘do the stamps.’ Joy handed her change and a bundle of colored, gum-backed stamps. Wanting to oblige, yet mindful of the queue now going out the shopfront door, Joy offered the lady a chair and a quiet space to do the stamping herself.
One hundred and fifty Christmas stamps displaying the tender, smiling face of baby Jesus looked up at Joy. Jesus is with me now, on the stamps, in the room and yes, how could I forget, even here in the flesh. I am serving Him by serving others, here in the madness of Christmas mail. He is here amongst hot, frazzled mothers, fidgety, fussy babies, grumpy men and worn-out elderly women. Something inside Joy shifted.
Hardly knowing what was happening, Joy turned back to the counter. In a loud voice she said, ‘Happy Christmas every one. Thank you for your patience and kindness this hot morning. God bless you this season, and may His goodness and love fill you and may you know that God’s son Jesus is with you today.’
Joy turned back to her postal duties, which seemed secondary to the happy smiles, buoyant chatter and lightness of spirit that was filling the room.
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