On any given morning, or afternoon for that matter, conversation follows a general trend. “How’s the new hip working out?” “My peas are gone but you should see my dahlias!” “Can you believe the traffic on North Street?” “I’ve got lots of green tomatoes — no red ones yet, but soon.”
It’s not earth-shaking news that’s shared, just nice friendly talk among town folk at the post office.
“Boy, do we have a houseful!” “See the moon last night?” “When does your sister arrive?” “How about those Sox — can you believe they pulled it out?” “Pattens Farm Stand has the best blueberries!” “Hey, how are you doing?”
There are many ways to communicate these days — emails and twitter, InstaGram and SnapChat, cellphones and iPads. But that’s so impersonal. There are coffee shops and outdoor restaurants where people make dates to meet and “catch up.” But that takes planning and making sure the calendar is clear.
Real spontaneous communication, where people look each other in the eye and share the day’s news and health, or just pleasantries and golf scores, happens in my town inside and outside the postoffice. Every day.
People walk in wearing tennis whites or golf shoes. They sport cut-offs and teeshirts, flip-flops and espadrilles, and khaki shorts topped with madras shirts. Occasionally you’ll spot someone wearing business clothes and know they work at Carla’s or Compliments, but most folk come dressed in what they’d wear around the house. Comfort clothes.
They might deposit mail in the outgoing slot, purchase a book of American flag stamps, then open their mailbox and toss away the circulars and leaflets. And then they’re out the door UNLESS they eyeball an acquaintance. And then they chat. Sometimes for quite a while, even continuing the conversation outside on the wide granite steps.
These days you can buy stamps at Hannafords, Market Basket or any of the large supermarkets. The United States Postal Service has a user-friendly website that allows you, from the comfort of your own home, to ship packages, print labels and calculate the correct postage rate. I don’t use that service. I go to the post office.
This scenario probably doesn’t happen in New York City or even medium-sized cities. It takes a village.
But with all that’s happening in the world — the nasty political talk, the demonstrations that turn angry and explode into violence, the Brexit brouhaha, the feeling that our country is so divided it could potentially rupture — here’s a thought. Maybe we should send our leaders into a small town post office so they can hear what really matters to people — friendship, support, caring and altruism. Not to mention how the Sox are doing.