Thursday, September 03, 2009

SoCal, I'm SoSorry

I went to the post office the other night to mail a box o' goodies to a friend of mine. They were closed, but I knew the main lobby was open until 9PM, and there's a self-serve packaging station there. I'd only used it once before, but it's pretty user-friendly, and I wanted to avoid killing my lunch break by standing in line.

I put the box on the scale and was following the computer's prompts when the little old lady behind me said plaintively, "Can you help me with mine?"

"Sure," I said. "Let me just finish up here."

Once I'd paid and slapped the label on my box, I turned to her and she handed me a large envelope. "I don't understand these computers at all," she said.

I put her envelope on the scale and began repeating the steps. When it got to the screen asking whether the item contained anything dangerous or flammable, I toyed with the idea of not asking her. But I figured I'd better, because if she wound up being a terrorist in a REALLY good disguise, I didn't want the FBI reviewing the security footage and saying, "Oh, track that bitch in the Silent Hill shirt down, she's totally in on it!"

"Okay, now it's asking if this contains anything weird in it. No, right?" I laughed, but she seemed offended.

"Of course not!" she said. "It's just a form that I need to mail right away."

Finally I reached the screen where it asked for a credit or debit card, and a green bar of light began blinking above the card reader. I didn't think she'd want to hand me her credit card, so I said, "Now you just need to insert your card."

She took out an American Express and...wiped it over the video screen.

Biting back a giggle, I said, "No, just put it in the slot."


"No, just below, further down..."

"Here?" she asked, trying to put it in the slot where the receipt comes out.

I pressed my lips into a tight seam, trying to keep from bursting into hysterical laughter. "May I?" I asked, holding out my hand. She gave me the card, and I finished the process. I gave the card back, put the label on the envelope, and put it in the mailbox with a flourish. I even reopened the door so she could see that it had gone down all the way.

"Oh, thank you so much!" she said. "You've been so helpful."

I held the door open for her, and we walked out into the warm California night. A man stood there, smoking a cigarette, and when he saw us, he dropped it on the ground and crushed it under his foot.

"All set, Ma?" he asked.

"All done!" she said. "I couldn't figure out the machine, so this young woman was nice enough to help me." She turned to me and said, "Goodnight, dear!"

"Goodnight," I said, and started walking back to my car, filled with warm fuzzies over helping an elderly woman out...

...until I heard her say to her son, as he assisted her into their car, "I hope the DMV gets it tomorrow. I want my license back!"

So, to the drivers of Southern California, if you see a little old woman who looks alarmingly like Clara Peller behind the wheel of a Buick Regal, squinting at the road and weaving all over the place, I am so very sorry. I swear I didn't know what I was helping her with.

The powers that be at the Cube Farm have been trying to renegotiate our lease for the last few years. Rumors flew hot and fast about where we might wind up, and management eventually sent out an e-mail saying that, should we move, it would not be further than 10 miles away from our current location. That might not seem like much to most people, but 10 miles is my total commute each day, and I REALLY didn't want to double it.

Negotiations fell through and the building owners refused to budge, so we're pulling up stakes and moving to a new location. To my relief, it's actually a couple of miles closer to me. Not only that, but the new building is right next to a swanky shopping center that includes several restaurants AND a Barnes & Noble.

My boss gathered us all together to share the news, and then she said that, because we'll be sharing the building with another company and this all happened so fast, they need some time to get the different departments set up. Until that happens, we'll be crammed into empty conference rooms and offices. And for at least three months, I'll be sharing an office meant for one person with...