Private Ryan is still gone, still sitting on a lake somewhere playing catch and release, calling the shop with his hook? bobber? bait? jig? lure? in the water, and occasionally catching something while on the phone with Private First Class leading her to say, “He called this morning. Started making some strange noises when he caught something. Weird noises.”
While I did not hear said noises, I did survive the aftermath of his elk hunting trip wherein he replicated the noises he AND the elk made when faced with each other every day for a few weeks. Ergo, for her to describe these sounds as “weird” makes me think they were perhaps on a different level.
Anyway, how’s the week going, you ask. Well, thank you for inquiring. I have stories.
Lady and the Stamp
We sell USPS stamps in The Field, more as a courtesy than a money maker since we don’t actually mark them up. We sell an amazing number of them, thousands of dollars a year worth, because people don’t want to go to the Post Office. During Christmas season, we order Christmas stamps because they sell like hotcakes. But the rest of the year, we stick with the basic stamp.
Truthfully, we do this because we often run out of stamps and have to quick grab some on the fly from somewhere else and they, too, are always this one. So continuity reigns supreme. But so does our pathological fear of offending someone. And a lot of times, commissioned stamps have a larger story to them, a deep background about how this or that impacted this or that. It’s very complicated, see, because we still get enough MAGA hats (two today, but we’ll get to that) that would go off if we had the audacity to get something celebrating anyone and anything that wasn’t white. The current selection would cause a number of our patrons mini heart attacks and possible an insurrection attempt at The Field. Let’s take a quick tour.
Finally, yesterday, a woman asked for stamps and all we have left are flags and Santa. We offered her the flags and she scoffed and said, “Don’t you have any better ones?” Private First Class looked at me and I said, “Are you looking for something specific?” “No,” she replied. “But why do you only have these?” So I told the story about wanting to take the easiest path and get stamps that won’t offend anybody. And she, of course, said, “Well, these offend me.” And I just stared at her and said, “You can order them online,” because I’m fine arguing with contrarians when necessary, but fuck off if you think I’m going to argue about stamps.
Later, it occurred to me that she probably thinks I’m some sort of right-wing “respect our flag or get out” person and, well, that made me giggle.
And some of the chief of the fathers gave to the treasure of the work twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand and two hundred pound of silver.
We shipped 600 pounds of Bibles today.
I almost just left it at that, but I want to stress upon you how heavy 600 pounds actually is. The cheapest method of shipping Bibles is USPS Media Mail, but Media Mail has a 70-pound weight maximum. Each box they brought into us did not register on our scales, meaning they so far exceeded even the 150-pound ground weight limit that we couldn’t even pretend that was going to work. We would have to repack them. All of them. Or we would have to ship them freight which would have been a billion dollars and it’s not like we have forklifts just chilling around The Field.
So we set about organizing these completely non-uniformed, probably donated Bibles. The average weight of the Bibles was somewhere between 2.5 and 3 pounds. Some were tiny paperbacks; some were like Biden’s inauguration Bible. And one of the most problematic parts of the project is using thick enough boxes to handle the weight. (Think of it this way: The boxes we used were four times thicker than an Amazon box. This sounds impressive until you realize Amazon boxes are basically made of tissue paper. Never ship anything breakable in an Amazon box. Thanks.)
We had to do this since these Bibles will eventually end up in Liberia. We only had to get them to New Jersey. If we’d had to ship those to Liberia, I think Private Ryan would return to find The Field empty because his entire staff would have given up.
Essentially, for about six hours, Private First Class and I lifted weights. Heavy weights. Make-sure-you-use-your-core weights. As we are both atheists, we assume this is our punishment and hell may be packing and unpacking and carrying 600 pounds of Bibles.
“Someone should have made this book shorter,” I said to a customer, who laughed, and then asked me if the Bibles would magically transform into clean water or vaccinations when they arrive in Liberia. “Shhhhh,” I said. “Don’t ask that or we’ll get another 600 pounds tomorrow.”
We had a very holy day, apparently. We had a customer call us simply to thank us for our diligence in helping her get her Covid care package to her son in Ohio so quickly. “Just bless your hearts, both of you,” she said.
Another lady dropped off cookies with a very kind note specifically directed toward Private First Class and me. “Private Ryan is blessed to have you.”
And, finally, in the middle of the Bible thumping a woman came in with her package ready to go, the address written legibly and largely, and knew exactly how she wanted to send it. “Oh my, bless you for having something light and easy,” I said. We completed the transaction and she looked me squarely in the eye and said, “I appreciate your blessing.”
We also shipped a couple of 70+ pound stained glass windows and a copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. And shortly thereafter, a woman came in wearing a hat that looked like a MAGA hat but said, “Make America Holy Again.”
Basically, I was 10 seconds from turning on gospel music and calling us a church. Would certainly help Private Ryan save on taxes.
The Other Red Meat
The other MAGA hat was an actual MAGA hat and came with its own very deep southern drawl. He asked me to make three copies of something for him. As I moved to the copier, three seconds maybe, he (completely unprompted) told me that gas would soon be $5 and we need to make sure we’re “prepared” for what is to come.
I told him we were good. We were in God’s house.
I did not bless him.
This week, we found out that one of the most secretive, surliest, angry customers we have draws comics for a living. And they’re not bad. But I have never seen this person smile and can’t even imagine what it might look like.
I found a fantasy jai alai site and structure my weekends around jai alai and NASCAR. I’m a big fan of Spinner and Joey Logano. Those are their actual names. Seriously. #TheCostOfThePandemic
I’m in a bit of a depressive funk and doing my regular existential struggle that happens with the seasons changing. I also realize I’m nearing the end of a book about Nazi Germany. I really need to time this shit better (she says as though there is a happy time to read about Nazis).
And finally, I am confused as to why Iowa is approaching their vaccination schedule with the same care and attention given to The Hunger Games. Everyone I know who has gotten the vaccine there has sworn me to absolute secrecy lest others find out. Are they threatening to, like, extract the vaccine from recipient arms? It confuzzles me.
Last week, I screamed “Fucker” five times at Brad Keselowski, a NASCAR driver. I felt he had disrespected Chase Elliott, another NASCAR driver. I read recaps of the race and all of the drama involved with it. I look forward to races on the weekend.
But my god do I hate jai alai.