I had to mail off a super important small package to a sailing friend in Florida. I had finally found the parts I needed to mail, the bubble wrap to protect them, and I had previously picked up the free US Postal Service box to pack it all in.
Their fancy free boxes are like exotic cake boxes and require 5 thumbs and 12 fingers to assemble. Somehow I managed to get the bubble wrapped contents, ensconced in the box, fold up the flat cardboard into the desire box-like shape, (after only 5 tries) peel off the tape strip, which was thoughtfully attached to the box, and stick the whole mess together.
Surprisingly, it looked very neat and professionally done (in under two hours). I put the correct address on it and it was imperative I get it in the mail immediately, despite the storm raging outside.
By the way, I'm camping out at a friend's house until I become un-homeless. My friend yelled "WAIT! I have an envelope for you to mail too!"
I waited another 20 minutes while he got his check, envelope and postage ready. He couldn't find the address to the place where he has mailed a check to for the past 6 years, so I had a delay while he searched the Internet and finally called someone located in India who told him in broken English, the correct US address.
Apparently customer service for many companies has strangely moved to India, presumably because the wages are cheaper and the lawsuits non-existent.
The storm was decidedly worse with a tornado warning, 30-40 mile per hour winds and driving rains. Luckily the post office was only a mile away and they had a drive-through. With the box addressed and stamped plus ditto for the envelope, I thought I could brave the torrential mess and make it back alive.
I was nearly killed!
It was one of those things where folks would have scratched their heads and wondered "WHY was Dear Miss Mermaid run over flat in the middle of a six lane highway during a storm, wearing pajamas?"
I am sure it would have puzzled them for eons.
OK, it wasn't exactly pajamas, (but I do sleep in them) and therefore think them inappropriate for outside wear. My friend had gifted me with sweat pants and a sweat shirt one day when I was shaking from the cold uncontrollably. They make great pajamas and house wear. I see folks out and about in their sweat pants and sweat shirt, but somehow, I just didn't have the nerve to do that.
I was all snuggled up in my oversized sweat pants and sweat shirt, plus some fur lined moccasins shod on my feet (mermaids grow feet if they are too far from the ocean too long) and I thought if I dashed out to the clunker of a junker (my latest mode of transport) and only drove straight to the post office drive-through and back, all would be fine and no one would know.
THANK GOODNESS, I decided to put on a long Trench Coat.
Just in case.
Besides my clunker of a junker takes a long time to heat up, and I didn't want to be cold, even for a short ride. This trench coat is long and toasty warm and somewhat impervious to water. The sleeves are a little too long, but as long as my fingers can grip the steering wheel, I was happy for the warm wrists.
So I battled the elements, the chilling rains coming down by the bucketfuls, and prayed the tornado warnings were meant for everybody but me, and set out to drive the one mile to the post office, which included two traffic lights and two turns. After 22 years of driving on the left, I chant to myself "drive on the right, drive on the right" as I go down the road.
Which by the way, did you hear about the tornado that flattened the avocado trees, then tore up the tomato patch and devastated the potato crop? They called it the avocado potato tomato tornado", as it flung tomatoes, dirt laden potatoes, and unripened avocados all over town. (If you're bored, try saying "avocado potato tomato tornado" as fast as you can ten times!)
I was so proud that I remembered to go through the sneaky entrance-only and not the exit. You can't see the sneaky entrance-only, to the post office until it's too late and many end up entering the exit-only. I know because when I went to pick up my free box, I ended up in the exit-only, but no one was there to scold me, so I snuck right in and parked before anyone could yell at me.
But on this wet and showery day, I sailed right through the entrance-only, headed for the exit-only where the drive-through mail boxes are located and all was going well until I stopped at the drive by mail box.
It was high. I mean real high! I mean if I had been driving a huge 18 wheel tractor trailer, then I might have been able to reach the drive through mail box easily. It was pouring rain as I reversed and then drove forward again, skimming the heavy concrete curb, to line up with the box again. It was taller than my clunker of a junker! I listened to the window hiss as the electric motor let it down, and I stretched my arm until I thought it would pop right out of my socket, and I was able to dump the small box and the letter down the chute to the mail box.
I was immensely proud of this feat, in spite of the fact, a gallon of water had just run down the sleeve of my trench coat and deposited icy cold water into my armpit, when a sudden gale came out of nowhere and snatched the letter right out of the mail chute and sent it flying in front of my windshield, then deposited it somewhere in front of my clunker of a junker.
I couldn't just leave it there and go back and tell my friend "Sorry, your check and envelope blew away in the storm, and therefore wasn't mailed at all!"
Even worse, I might have to make a SECOND trip out into this deluge to make good on my errand, once I peeled my friend off the ceiling and got them to write a new check, find an envelope, call India for the address, and OOOPS, I just recalled, we had used their very last stamp on the errant envelope, so this just would not do at all. That would mean I would have to go get dressed so I could go inside the post office and buy another stamp. Tsk tsk tsk.
I put the clunker of a junker into neutral, yanked up the hand brake, made sure it wasn't moving forward or backwards, then tried to climb out of the car. The door hit the mailbox and only gave me a sliver to squish my body, sweat suit and trench coat through, but I made it, then I had to shut the door and walk sideways like a crab and finally I spy THE ENVELOPE in front of the clunker of a junker, inches from a massive rain puddle.
I bent over to retrieve the envelope, the engine still running, and praying silently my clunker of a junker wouldn't suddenly disengage the handbrake and mow me down, when as I swear my fingers were less than an inch from the envelope, a gust of wind picked it up and flung it out into the six lane highway in front of us.
By now, a frigid river of rain was running inside the collar of the trench coat and down my back, slowly filling up my furry moccasins. I watched with profound horror, as a car ran right over the envelope and tossed it into the median.
Now the median on this particular highway is actually what I call a "free for all" as cars and trucks can pull into the median to make left turns, or pull half way across the highway and wait in the median, until they get into a proper lane of traffic going their way. I noticed the envelope had tire treads across the back of it.
As the gullywasher continued around me in near 40 F degree weather, I darted and dashed between cars and trucks and found myself in the median, bending over, once again, to retrieve this g**d*** envelope.
I hear the screech of brakes and look up as the grill of some new exotic car slides to a stop just inches from me bent over and hovering in the median. By now, my hair is soaked, my furry moccasins are rain laden and my throat closes up and my heart stops and I get VERY dizzy. The driver of the sleek car that nearly killed me looks like something out of a bad fright movie.
Like a drunken sailor, I weave and stumble my way back through traffic, stuff the envelope into the mail chute while noting there are three cars patiently waiting behind my parked one so they can use the mail chute too.
I slither sideways between the mail box and my car, open the door and note with disdain, I have left the window down, so the interior of my clunker of a junker is just soaked, and I manage to squeeze myself between the narrow opening and back into my car seat.
I can't breathe, my head is spinning, and my heart has now jump started and is racing away faster than a reggae beat. Everything spins out of control. I sit, dripping and frozen in my clunker of a junker, waiting for air to enter my lungs before I just pass right out.
Someone behind me honks, but there is just nothing I can do. I need AIR. They beep again and I wonder why don't they just call 911 and announce a dead mermaid is blocking the mail chute?
Seconds or minutes, I don't know, I eased off the hand brake, and let the car roll to the edge of the six lane highway and stop again. Maybe this will appease the honker.
I will my lungs to OPEN up and let some air in. Finally, the the air comes, the dizziness leaves and though my heart is still pounding pretty heavily, I see an opening in traffic, so I enter the six lane highway and make it back to my friend's house in a dream like state.
At their driveway, I park and sit and watch the windows steam up. Finally I work up my nerve to brace the icy cold waterfall from the clouds and make a run for their house door.
I rapidly head for their bathroom, hang up my trench coat in the shower, put a towel around my soaked hair, and then head for their living room to stand over the heating vent and try to thaw out. I slip out of my soaked shoes and was sliding on socks when my friend walks into the room.
"What took you so long?"
"Did you mail my envelope?"