I've been to many post offices in my life in various locales. Eureka, California's 5 and H branch seems to get a lot of idiots. I'm not talking about the general idiots who ask questions about international delivery. I'm talking about the ones who come to the window with a shirt folded in their hands who tell the clerk they have to send it to Minnesota and then act surprised when they are told they have to put it in a box or envelope. Not only are they surprised. They are sometimes offended, and then will say something like, "But I don't know the address." Yes, I've seen that happen.
So this lady tried key after key. Not a single one was working for her. "They all say 'post office,'" she muttered to herself. Great. I feared that any minute she would ask me which key was the proper one needed to open her box. She was something like 68 years old. Keys get confusing.
Instead of engaging me in conversation, she stepped to the side to hold her key ring up to the light. Perhaps that would help her identify the proper key. Perhaps she was looking for divine inspiration. Either way, I leaped at the chance to get to my box.
I opened it and, leaving my keys dangling from the lock, started to take out my mail. Then I heard her gasp.
She was standing right next to me staring at my keychain.
"That offends me," she said.
The "that" she was referring to was my Pussy Wagon keychain. If you don't know what the Pussy Wagon is, watch the first Kill Bill movie. Apparently she couldn't work her DVD player any better than she could a lock, as she didn't know what the hell it meant.
"It's from a movie," I said, taking my keys from my box.
"I don't care what it's from. It offends me."
I didn't care that I had a keychain that offended a woman who couldn't figure out how to open her post office box. It was on the very bottom of the list of things I give a crap about. I made a mental note that if she were in a life-threatening situation and my keychain was the only thing that could safe her, I would refrain from doing so, lest I offend her. Instead of telling her this and engaging in a conversation that would only leave me wanting to put her through a window, I walked away. Well, let me rephrase that. I started to walk away.
My box is close to the door. Just a couple of steps away from it, really. Before I could go more than two steps, she said, "Did you not hear me?"
Deep breath. Deep, calming breath. "I heard you. I chose to ignore you and not make you feel bad for not knowing how to use your keys." I turned again.
She started to talk again. My God! I just got off work. Did not have a good day. Had a lot of stuff to do at home. And now this lady wanted to give me commentary on my keychain? Just how far up her ass was her head? Did she want me to unleash Hell on her? Would she not be satisified until I somehow acknowledged her offended nature and placated her with words signifying that not only was I repentant, but would also do my utmost best to rid the world of Quentin Tarantino-inspired keychains? Is that what she wanted?
"I think-" she started to say.
I couldn't listen to it anymore. I couldn't hazard a guess as to what was passing through that mind of her's. I didn't want to hear it, either. There wasn't anything she could possibly say that would be of interest to me. Not a single word.
In a quiet, calm, low voice, I asked, "What makes you believe I give a fuck about what you think?"
That, as noted by the look on her face, offended her more than the keychain.
I left the post office as she started to sputter some kind of ill-conceived response.
I don't know what it is about that place, but it attracts the strangest people. Half the time I'm in there I think someone is playing a prank on me because there is no way these people could be real. They seem to be operating in a reality that is somehow on a different level than the one I inhabit. They don't understand things like postage, envelopes or etiquette.
I've always believed that more easily one is offended, the less intelligent they happen to be. I can't prove it. It's not science. But I do think there is something to it. If a simple keychain offends you, I doubt you're working on a cure for cancer or being consulted for the next NASA mission. Instead, you're probably writing nonsensical letters to the editor of the Times-Standard (you know what I mean if you read those things) and doing your best to make sure Hot Topic in the Bayshore Mall goes out of business like that den of sin known as Borders.
There are plenty of things to get offended about in the world. The fact that pro golfers make more than teachers. That the Tea Party Parrots almost drove this country to default. Or even the idea that child molesting priests can be shuffled around without any fear of criminal prosecution. Those are tangible things to be offended over. It makes sense to be offended by those things. By a keychain, though? You don't have a lot of room to be offended by it if you can't even figure out how to use the things attached to it, can you?