The Pony has been nominated for a special award. No, it's not a leg lamp, like that special award in A Christmas Story. In fact, there's no tangible reward that comes with it, other than a trip to the White House to meet the President. It's an honor just to be nominated, though. Only two students from Southeast Missouri were on the list. And he realizes that earning the award will be tough. Only about 3 students are chosen per state.
Because it is a government program, there are many hoops through which The Pony needs to jump. Much paperwork to be submitted. Some of it can be done online. But an official transcript had to be mailed. An official transcript, put in a sealed envelope by the school counselor, the envelope then signed across the flap and taped shut.
There was an issue with a code for The Pony's high school. The counselor called the office in Minnesota that receives the paperwork. Numerous times. She was told the error was on her end, when clearly it was not. After a week and a half, that part got straightened out. The Pony's recommendations from several faculty and staff could then be submitted online. Oh. Did I mention that the deadline for all materials was TODAY?
So imagine my consternation when, Friday after school, the counselor came to my room bearing the envelope with the transcript. "This needs to be in Minnesota by Thursday. If I mail it here, it will go out with the district mail Monday afternoon. I think it needs to be FedExed or sent Priority Mail. I can't do that for you. But if you're willing to do it..."
"How am I supposed to know how to FedEx a letter?"
"Maybe the post office will do it for you."
[Um. Aren't they competitors? I'm pretty sure the USPS doesn't do FedEx business.]
"Well, I can send it Priority Mail. We go by the post office all the time to rush stuff to Genius. Sure. I'll take it."
The Pony came in a few minutes later. "Pony. We need to leave in a couple of minutes, to get this to the post office. Your counselor dropped it off and said it won't go out until Monday afternoon if she does it."
"Yeah. No. It has to be there by Thursday. Let me see. WAIT! It's supposed to have her signature across the flap!"
"Go now! You know she leaves early. See if you can catch her!" The Pony ran like the wind. He returned five minutes later.
"Got her. That was close."
I gathered up my stuff and started to panic when I didn't see the envelope. Whoops! The Pony had it on the desk where he was sitting. We rushed out of there to the post office. Not the dead-mouse-smelling post office. The main branch, which was closer, and closes at 4:30 instead of 4:00.
"I'll just have to send it Priority Mail. Will there be someone there who can sign for it?"
"I don't know. The FAQs said that Priority Mail doesn't have a guaranteed delivery date. And they recommend using a courier service."
"That may be, but all we have here available is Priority Mail. I'll do the best I can when I ask them."
I rushed into the post office. There were no other customers inside! I pushed the letter across the counter. "I need this to get there by Wednesday at the latest. Earlier if you can."
"Let me see your options." He was a stocky guy. Not real neat. Kind of like the Columbo of the USPS. "You can get it there Monday for $22.95."
"Okay. That sounds good."
Postal Columbo pushed a form across the counter to me. "You need to fill this out."
"Oh. I didn't bring in my glasses. I'll just take it out to the car and fill it out, then bring it back in." I eyed the letter laying on his scale. I didn't want it out of my sight.
"Tell you what. I'll do you a favor. Since there's nobody in line now, and there might be later, I'll fill this out for you."
I don't know if he was afraid of losing $22.95 in business, or if he thought he was being helpful, or if he was putting the moves on ol' Val Thevictorian, who does not wear her wedding ring. He started writing on that form. Copying the return address, and the going-to address.
SWEET PAPPY JOHNSON WITH AN ERECTION! (to steal a phrase from Ray Romano on an old SNL)
The writing of Postal Columbo was worse than Hick's! Worse than The Pony's! Worse than Joe H's wife's grocery list script! I wanted to jump over the counter and grab that letter and run for T-Hoe and try to make it to the dead-mouse-smelling post office on time! Then the situation escalated. Postal Columbo was making small talk! While copying very important numbers in the address!
"I used to work down in Middle Of Nowhere, MO. You wouldn't believe how many old people I filled out forms for. This one old guy told me he forgot his glasses. So I started filling it out, and he said, 'Wait a minute. You put two Ts in there, and it only has one.' And I thought, 'Oh, you forgot your glasses, did you? You seem to be seeing all right now.' Heh, heh. I filled out a lot of stuff for little old grandmas. One guy didn't even know the address he wanted to send it to. 'It's the last house on the street. I forget the name.' It was crazy there."
My blood pressure was shooting up like that metal thing a would-be strong man hits with a mallet at a carnival. I held my tongue. Didn't want to slow him down. THEN the last straw fell onto my very last nerve. He peeled that label apart, slapped the top part on one of those big cardboard Priority Mail envelopes, put the letter inside, sealed it, handed me the bottom part of the label, plus a receipt, and said
"Bring those back if your package doesn't arrive on Monday, and you can get your money back."
Thank goodness I had not gone the cheaper route and asked for it to arrive on Wednesday. Or THURSDAY!
I was shaking when I got to the car. "Pony. He says it should be there Monday. But then he told me to bring back the receipt for a refund if it doesn't arrive!"
"That's okay, Mom. It should at least make it by Thursday."
Let the record show that the tracking number website informed me that the package arrived Monday at 8:56 a.m.