A couple of days ago I shared with you the tale of how the USPS ripped me off for $5.00 with a bait-and-switch style stamp sale. I asked for two books of stamps, and Federal Wench threw two SHEETS of stamps on the counter, and ended up charging me for them, rather than the two BOOKS I asked for instead.
Friday morning, I headed to town to inquire about a refund of the rightful change I was due because of their error. You can probably imagine how that went. But I'm going to tell you anyway! Oh, and there was a weirdo encounter that almost prevented me from getting there, but that's a story for another day.
I wanted to get to town early, because you never know when the folks at the dead-mouse-smelling post office are going to close up shop with their big metal sliding window-shade thingy and go to lunch. Literally. You never know, because it's always changing, and taped to the door and the partition below the counter on printer paper.
I got there at 10:45, which is early for me. A lady older than me and more crippled-up than me (and probably with more insurance than me) parked right behind T-Hoe and beat me to the steps. I think her route from car door to dead-mouse-smelling post office door was shorter, because I should have been able to take her. As it were, I gimped up the concrete steps behind her, with a death grip on the flat black metal railing with my left hand. I didn't want her to think I was stalky or anything. But I was not walking extra to use the right-hand rail on the other side, and I couldn't help it that she was slower with her one-leg stair-climbing technique than I.
Anyhoo...that old gal veered left to check her post office box, and I veered right to approach the counter. Nobody was in front of me, and nobody was behind me. Just Val. And an empty counter. So I tapped the silver metal bell where the sign taped behind it said, "Ring Bell For Service." I always hate to do that, because it makes me feel like the workers will resent me as an impatient butthole. So I barely tapped it. One time. For a subdued hello...I'm out here...when you're not busy...ding. Not an obnoxious GET OUT HERE AND DO YOUR JOB, YOU LAZY PIECE OF CRAP...DING!
A girl came out of the back room. She was not the one who ripped me off for $5.00. She was younger, shorter, and with long smooth brown hair rather than a frizzy brassy perm. Kind of...if I may say...mousy.
"May I help you?"
"Oh...probably not. You're not the one I talked to yesterday. I bought these two books of stamps, but she charged me for two SHEETS of stamps that she had laid out at first. I told her I didn't want them, so she got me these snowbirds, but still charged me for the breast cancer sheets. I'm sure she just forgot. I was also telling her about a missing letter to my son in Oklahoma."
See what I did there? I acted not-pissed-off. Like it was just an honest mistake, and I was giving them the chance to make it right, and resolve their inventory. When I held out my receipt and two books of snowbird stamps, I could see Mousy's demeanor change. Now I was a problem customer. She got that look of fear in her eyes, like I might jump over the counter and slice her jugular with the edge of my snowbirds.
"The lady you talked to just went to the bank. She should be back in a minute. I'll let you talk to her."
"How long would that be?"
"Oh, not very long. She only went to the bank."
"Yes, but you'll be closing for lunch at 11:00, I see there on your sign. I don't think she'll be back before then, and I can't wait an hour. I just don't think I should have to pay for the special stamps that I didn't get."
"Well, all of our stamps are non-refundable."
"I know that you could check your inventory and see that you have two
extra sheets of breast cancer stamps, and are lacking two books of
THEN Mousy lit up like a freakin' jack-o-lantern, a smile from ear to ear, all high and mighty.
"All of our stamps are non-refundable."
"So I guess I'm out five dollars."
With that, I took my leave. Didn't shout, "EFF YOU EFFING EFFERS!" Or even, "Darn you. Darn you all to heck." Because, you see, she was obviously following policy, her livelihood depending on how well she remained firm under the thumb of THE MAN.
I spent five years working in a state unemployment benefits office. Val definitely knows her way around a public employee standoff. Could I have waited to talk to Federal Wench when she got back from the bank? Sure. It's not like my life revolves around a time clock now. But what would be the point? Nobody goes to the bank 15 minutes before lunch with the plan to be back right at the time lunch starts. She was stretching that bank run into lunch time. For sure. And why would I kill an hour so Mousy could tell Federal Wench the whole story, and then both of them come out when they re-opened after lunch and deny my rightful $5.00 change while snickering behind their jack-o-lantern smiles?
Nope. I limped myself down the steps and drove away, bemoaning the loss of a scratch-off ticket. Or five 44 oz Diet Cokes from Orb K.