Wednesday, June 21, 2006

You Can't Handle The Truth If You Can't See It!

While I am tempted to further alienate you with more fiction, I have decided to share a totally true story today.

I recently filled out an application for a passport. I have never had one, mainly because I am simply too lazy to travel to foreign countries. I grew up with Mexico in my backyard and they don't care about silly things like that. But seeing as how a whopping 8% of my readers are in Canada, with the United Kingdom running a close second, at 7%, I anticipate many invitations and marriage proposals that I don't want to refuse because I have no passport. I filled out the application online, printed it out and searched for the nearest office. This turned out to be a Post Office near my house, though not the one I can be found loitering at, late at night.

Upon arriving, a sign directed me to the back of the building. One couple was ahead of me in line, getting a passport for their daughter, who stared at me like I had two heads or something. Very rude child. Horrid genetics. Anyway, once they were gone it was my turn. I handed the man my paperwork and said: "I would like one passport, please." He reviewed my papers and asked to see my birth certificate. I handed him my credit card style "Birth Registration Card" and asked if that was acceptable. He agreed that it was and promised not to staple it to my application, as this might cause it to break.

"This card is pretty old and brittle. I think I will just use a paperclip,?" the man said. Old and brittle? It's the exact same age as me! But rather than be offended, I agreed that a paperclip would probably work best. He took my photo and then it was time to pay. I pulled out my check card.

"Check or money orders only," he told me. "You can get a money order in the main Post Office, if you like." On the website, it said I could pay with a card, but I didn't feel like arguing so I made my way back to the front office where I found myself behind a slow moving man. I tried to pass him and noticed his cane. He was blind. I couldn't cut in front of a blind man, could I? No, I decided. He must have been there before. He knew exactly where to stand and wait for the next available Postal Employee. I fell in behind him to wait my turn. There was only one woman behind the counter. She was explaining to the customer she was serving, that "Vicky" was on vacation for five days and that she is all alone and that makes her job harder and that makes her move slower, blah, blah, blah... Seconds dragged on and on. Minutes passed. Days. Years. I thought about the word: Postal and the various things it means. I knew that if she didn't shut her yap, I was going to go postal on her. Finally, she finished with her customer and said: "Next!"

The blind man stepped up to the counter and asked for a money order. She processed his request and gave him his total. He handed her his credit card, which she ran through the machine. "Please, enter your PIN," she told him, thrusting the electronic pad towards him.

"Could you do it for me?" He asked.

"It's against the rules. Get another customer to help you." By now, the line stretched to the door, but seeing as how I was next, I stepped up.

"I'll do it," I said in my best 'Good Samaritan' accent. The blind man thanked me and whispered his PIN number. I only heard the first two numbers. "What?"

"Are you deaf?" Now, I have never had the experience of a blind person asking me if I was deaf before, so I was unsure how to answer. Clearly, I am not totally deaf but I didn't want to insult him and I certainly didn't want to put my ear closer to his mouth.

"Sort of," I said, which is true. I often have trouble understanding soft voiced individuals, due to the fact that I like really loud rock music. He just smiled and began shouting his PIN number loud enough for everyone in the room to hear. I entered it for him and backed away, sheepishly.

"Thank you!" He said. "And Miss, I do believe that you are allowed to help the disabled!" She just stared at him with a scowl that I suspect she was born with. He collected his money order and started towards the door, tapping his cane in front of him. The Postal woman looked at me and shouted: "NEXT!"

I purchased my money order and returned to the back to pay the man at the passport counter. He paperclipped my birth card, the money order and my application together and told me that was all he needed. I would receive my passport as soon as possible. I left the Post Office and got in my car, pleased that I had actually accomplished something today. As I started the engine, my stereo came on. The volume was very loud and I immediately turned it down.

After all, what's the fun of traveling if you can't hear foreigners screaming at you?


Dale said...

Fiction or non - your writing is so interesting and funny. You had me at Are you deaf?

You'll need the passport for your blog tour.

Holly said...

This is the best story involving a blind person needing help in the post office that I have ever read.

You had me at "application for a passport," mostly because I know that means I'll be able to drag your ass to Canada when you come visit me!

Saviour Onassis said...

Thank you, Dale. You are always so sweet and yes, I might have to do a "blog tour" very soon!

Holly, you can drag my ass anywhere you like...