A man once told me why he never asks for directions. “Half the time, the person you’re talking to gives you bad information.” He’s probably right. In fact, I remember with chagrin one day when I was walking back to the office after lunch and a car pulled up asking how to get to Boulder and I gave him directions to Bonanza instead. As the light turned green I realized that I had sent him in the exact opposite direction!
So yesterday as I was coming out of an appointment, I realized I had forgotten to ask the receptionist if there was a post office nearby. My Christmas cards have been written and addressed for a week. I had actually remembered to buy stamps and so they were ready to go — and they had been; riding around in my car for two days!
At the entrance to the building, I saw an information desk manned (womaned?) by an older lady. I made a quick detour and put the question to her: “Is there a post office nearby?”
“What did you need?” I’m guessing that if I just had something in my purse she would offer to put it in the building’s outgoing mail.
“It’s my Christmas cards. A big bag of them.”
“Oh, then you’ll need a post office. There is one nearby,” she continued. “Just go down Town Center (the main street), through the first round-about which is Covey Crossing. Then you’ll go all the way around and you’ll see the post office. It’s a big building with a flag out front.” She paused for a moment and then added: “An American flag.” Well, that’s a relief — we’re still living in the United States of America.
“Okay, let me get this straight. I go down Town Center and at the Covey Crossing round-about I go all the way around and I’ll see the post office.”
“No, dear. Covey Crossing is the first round-about. You have to keep going.”
“Is there another round-about?”
“Oh yes. The first one is Covey Crossing.” That didn’t clear up the matter for me so I said “Uh, okay. Which side of the freeway is it on?”
“Oh, no, you don’t get on the freeway. You stay on Town Center.” Then her face lit up with inspiration. “Do you know the library?” she asked.
Ah! The library: Tolstoy, Proust, Janet Evanovich. Yes, I knew the library. In fact, I had been to the one in this part of town, but not from this direction. Still, it was a clue. And it was after the freeway — quite a ways after.
“Is the post office near the library?” I asked in a hopeful voice.
“Right across from it. You can’t miss it.” Those words made me cringe.
I should have just headed home and driven the extra 4 miles to my local post office, but I thought “since I’m so close…”
Of course, I never did see the post office, nor the library, nor any signage at the Covey Crossing round-about. I’d navigated two more round-abouts which I purely hate! They have them in England and they work quite well — I don’t know what the difference is. Perhaps it’s because the people in England grew up with round-abouts and aren’t flummoxed by them as I am. Nevertheless, I’d passed two round-abouts and had not seen anything that looked like a library or post office.
Then I remembered that there was a post office not all that far away from where my meanderings had landed me, and sure enough a few minutes later I was there. I pulled up to the drive-by mailbox and grabbed the first handful of cards. Just as I was about to drop them in the box I saw I had neglected to put return labels on them. Drat, DRAT, DRAT!!
To mail them without a return address or not? Not. So back home, put on address labels, get back in the car and drive to my post office and get them gone!
And this is one of the reasons everyone says Christmas is so stressful. but it’s okay now — I’ve got them mailed and with any luck at all, they’ll be there before the end of the week. And just for fun I looked up the location of that post office on the ‘net. Sure enough, I’d managed to drive right past it. I’d probably found it just fine if she hadn’t said those fatal words: “You can’t miss it.”