Thursday, February 01, 2007

Then again, maybe anonymity isn’t so bad.

I know in my New Year's resolutions blog I resolved to become wildly famous because, unlike some people, I could live a life free of embarrassing myself by stepping out of limos while only half dressed. But I didn’t take into account that there are so many other ways to embarrass myself. Like for example, having children.

I was in the post office with my four year old daughter. I had about twenty review copies of It’s A Mall World After All that I was mailing out to various school librarians in the state, you know, doing that self promotion my editors are always asking about.
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Taking my four year old anywhere that is not strictly child proof--complete with ball pit--is always a risky venture. If the place doesn’t have a jungle gym, my darling daughter (hereafter referred to as DD) will find a way to create one. Clothes racks, tables, shopping carts—they all work.

But I’d been trying to get to the post office for days, so I had a little talk with DD about the behavior I expected from her and off we went to wait in a line behind two dozen other people.

I don’t know why the line is always so long at the post office. Any time of the day it’s like that. I don’t know why they don’t just hire another worker. They probably would earn more money in the long run because people like me wouldn’t do everything in their power to avoid the place. But there we were. For the first fifteen minutes DD was good. Oh sure, I had to tell her not to swing on the door sensor that beeps if you try to do something evil, like steal stamps, but that’s manageable behavior. Then she took the stack of Change-Address-Requests and began drawing on them. I didn’t stop her. I figure hey, if the post office is going to make small children wait for long periods they can forfeit some paper.

When I was the second person in line, DD informed me that she had to go to the bathroom. I informed her that there wasn’t a bathroom around, and besides, I was almost to the front of the line. This conversation went on for a few minutes and then I smelled a bad smell. And yes, it was what you think it was. Apparently surprised herself, DD put her hand down there to check out what it was.

I spent the rest of the time in line looking for Kleenex in my purse and telling her DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. NO, STOP TOUCHING THINGS. GET OFF THE FLOOR. DON’T TOUCH ME EITHER.

And we were in line for a good ten minutes after this happened because the three people at the counter (who were all getting passports done) were reading the fine print, or waiting for foreign governments to change heads of state, or I don’t know, maybe just being really slow because that’s how the post office is run. One of them was complaining about something (although I didn’t feel sorry for him because hey, he didn’t have to keep a poopy child occupied). He kept saying things like, “Well, if I went into the passport office in San Francisco would they have the same policies? Can I get an appointment there?”

By this time I was about to have a nervous break down, and DD was on the floor making poop sculptures.

Finally it was my turn. I went to the counter telling DD to come with me but not to touch anything, including herself.

I told the lady at the counter that I needed to mail these books but I wasn’t sure if it was best to mail them first class or media mail. She went into her, Is-there-anything-flamable-hazardous-or-that-could-be-used-to-make-explosives-speaches.

In one of my books? I wish. Maybe I’d get some attention in the literary world if my books could be used to hijack a mail truck, but no.

“They’re books,” I told her.

“I’m still required to ask the questions,” she told me.

And I wondered why things took so long in the post office.

So I told her no, my packages were perfectly safe and then we went through all the rates until I decided that first class was better than media mail after all. I also told her that I was sorry, but she was going to have to disinfect the entire post office after we left, because my daughter had an accident and kept touching things. (I’m sure none of the patrons behind us wanted to lay a hand on the counters, the pen, and especially the Change-Address-Request sheets.)

It took the post office lady a long time to print out the postage stickers for my packages, and I was constantly checking to see where DD was and what she was touching. It was then that the post office lady noticed the addresses on the packages. “Are these children’s books?” she asked.

“Young adult books,” I said.

“Are you a teacher or librarian or something?” she asked.

“I’m a writer,” I said. “They’re review copies.”

And then she asked what kind of books I wrote and all of those kinds of questions. I admit I didn’t appear to be very jolly for someone who writes comedies, or you know sophisticated, competent--any of those things writers would like their personas to be. In fact, I’m really hoping she and everyone in line behind me has completely forgotten my name.

Sometimes it pays to be an unknown.

8 comments:

CandyMountainFillMeWithSweetSugaryGoodness said...

Ha!Ha!I love your blog!!It is seriously hilarious!In the matter of two hours I have started and finished "It's a mall world after all".You are officially one of my favorite authors.And that's saying something considering I never put a book down and only have two favorite authors.I was reading through the comments and have two things to say: 1.You are too famous!It's just nobody knows it yet. 2.Would you consider possibly sending me an autograph as well?

Thanks a bunch,
Schuyler

Janette Rallison said...

Oh I love that--I'm famous; it's just that nobody knows it yet. I should get that put on a T-shirt.

I'd be happy to send you an autograph as you are both brilliant and a fast reader. (I'm so impressed. I won't tell you how long it took me to read through the book while I was making edits . . .) Just send your address to rallison1 at cox dot net.

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Marsha Ward said...

This is one of the funniest things I've ever read, Janette! And now, a request. Will you teach me how to put picutres on my blog? I know. That's so ironic, but you seem to have it down, and I don't.

Anonymous said...

The lines are long at the P.O. because so many people are in line that don't need to be. Why with all the alternative ways to buy stamps would someone waste their (and everyone elses) time standing in line to buy stamps. Stamps-by-mail. Delivered to each home at least thrice annually. Usually within 2 days. Often it's lonely, elderly people with no one to talk to. Same for carriers on the street. Sorry, but that's not the job of the USPS.

Anonymous said...

I toltally am right there next to you.

I LOVE little kids but they get way out of control.I have a little story for you.(could it be worse than yours?)
I was babysitting one 5 year old one 3 year old and a 1 year old. Things were fine till the 5&3 year old started fighting so we HAD to put on BARBIE!!! Then the 1 year old exploded... phisically and emotionally. In her diaper there was... well something wrong!!!So i put the screaming baby on the floor andTRIED to change her. I got the diaper of...She stepped in it . put her in the bathtub so i could try to wipe her back end, and after literally 30 min. she was changed cleaned and was eating a P&J sandwitch. I had to clean-up more happyness from the bathtub. then i got the wonderful job of changing out of my love encrusted shirt.I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!!!!!!!!!

Emily M. said...

Oh, this is hysterical. Love it.