Monday, August 31, 2015

A Real, Lively Tim Burton-Style Postal Worker

Photography Prints

Recently, I sold three of my Zentangle horses to a collector in Canada.

The first two, The King's Horse...
Photography Prints

...and War Horse...were purchased a month before the third horse, Circus Horse and shipped perfectly and safely to the new owner in a nice, convenient-sized bubble pack. 

Photography Prints

Circus Horse; however, was bigger. It's the first one in my Chinese horse series done in the Zentangle style.
You can see the horses I've created in my Chinese horse series HERE

After searching for a bubble pack, it became apparent that I would need to find another way to package the artwork.  There isn't a 16 x 20 bubble package anywhere.

It took some thinking, but I eventually figured out how to package the artwork so it would be safe.  When I took it to UPS, the cost of shipping surprised me.  It would take over $40 to ship it to Canada.  My budget was $25.  So, I decided to go to the Post Office instead.  USPS is much cheaper than UPS.

My daughter was with me and we were waiting in line.  It wasn't our local post office because we were in a different city that day.  There was a male postal worker helping the customer in front of us while I stood at the adjacent service window writing addresses down on the package.  We heard a loud female voice coming from somewhere in the building.  At first, I thought I was hearing the ranting of a homeless woman, but couldn't make out all the words. 

While I was trying to ascertain if it was indeed a homeless woman, my daughter was counting the bobble heads on the windowsill next to the receiving desk.  She elbowed me and pointed at them with her eyes. With a grin, she whispered to me, "There are 30 of them."  Then, a thin, gaunt-faced jolly old woman walked through the door towards the bobble-head stall where we were waiting. She was proudly wearing a vest decorated in postal-themed pins.  Her rectangular face was framed with shoulder length, limp hair.  It appeared as though it had been permed and colored at one time, but had long since grown out. The ends of her hair held onto the last bit of wave left in to the perm.  The moment she saw us, I realized that she was that mysterious, outspoken woman I mistakenly thought was a homeless woman.  When she spoke, her worn down, stained toothy smile and her gruff voice exposed a lifetime of heavy smoking.

It didn't take much effort to imagine her as a Tim Burton-like character. This guy above is a Bell Hop created on an episode of Faceoff.

This one's a cellist also created on Faceoff....You get the idea.

Imagine a postal worker character Tim Burton-style and you have yourself a character like the one who stood before us that day.

I looked at my daughter, an aspiring writer, pointed expressive eyes towards the bobble head filled windowsill; then turned my gaze towards the woman indicating that those bobble heads must belong to the pin-filled, vest-wearing postal worker and she needed to make note of this woman's characteristics for her writing.  I've been encouraging her to keep a character log for future reference. Notes on people with interesting faces, unique body movements, and dynamic characters like this woman serving us today.

The gruff-voiced, but kind postal worker looked at the package and said, "This looks bigger than 24 inches.  I don't know if it will ship out first class.  It must be 24 inches or under to ship that way."  First time I had ever heard that.  The hope that I had actually been able to ship the art within my budget faded. I prepared myself for hearing that $40 amount that UPS quoted me.

She measured the package and told me that it was just over 24 inches, but she would try it anyway, "It'll probably be fine.  Unless some guy decides to measure it and refuse it.  If it comes back to you, don't open it.  Simply bring it back here.  We won't charge you for what you've already paid. Just charge you for the additional cost and we will ship it priority."

Then she noticed that I had used a priority shipping box to protect the artwork before slipping another plain cardboard box over the top of that one.  During my creative brain storming on how I could ship it flat, safe and sound.  I had picked up a priority shipping box, slipped the art into it leaving the box flattened, then slipped that box into another flattened box that was a little bigger creating a stiff protective layer.  It was then taped securely.  I was trying to avoid paying for a massive box and its weight, "Is that a priority box I see in there?"

Not knowing if that was a bad thing or not, I said back to her, "Uhmm...ya, but let's pretend you didn't see it.  I won't tell if you don't tell."  I was kind of kidding.  She seemed like she could take it.
I looked at my daughter and shrugged my shoulders. The postal worker had a thoughtful expression for a second. It seemed that it would be fine as she didn't say another word about it.  I suppose I could've gone dumpster diving and found one the right size for free instead of using one from them with all their tell-tell writing over it that seemed to peek through cracks in the plain box around it.  You always think of those things after the fact and after the box is taped to high heaven.

I asked her how she knew that it was over 24 inches before she measured it.  Her response was animated as she leaned towards me, "I've been here 49 years, honey.  You learn a thing or two in that amount of time." She also said that it is possible that it would come back to me because of that. Then, knowing it was going to Canada, she patted her bobble head bear from Canada (making him bobble even more) and said, "That's why I've got this guy.  He's from Can-ay-dee-a.  He watches over all the others."

One can't help but deduce from meeting this woman that she either really loved her job or she's been made crazy by working for the government for so long or both.
Really, she was a breath of fresh air. A delight to work with.  She is also the only postal worker that I've ever seen smile. As you probably already know, and have experienced for yourself, that government workers always seem like they hate their job and never smile, but she didn't hate it.  I told her that too, "I don't think I've ever met a postal worker who likes what they do."
"Oh, I do love my job.  I also love it when it is 5 o'clock." She said smiling once again revealing her worn down, smoke-stained teeth.

When we left, my daughter said grinning, "Is she real?  I love adding people like that into my writing, but it's hard to believe that people like that really exist." 
Yup, that's why I encourage her to take notes about the interesting people she meets.  Not that it would be easy to forget a person like that.  Those kind of people make my day.  So does being able to ship something within my budget of $25.

See my WEBSITE to see more of my artwork.

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