Going Postal: Day 17

valentine-stamp.jpgDay 17: Donna Was Her Name

This is going to be short, as I have only four hours from this precise moment right now until I need to leave for work. I didn’t get to bed until a little after 6 this morning, and it is now just past 12:30. That means that I got less than six hours of sleep, and I feel like crap. My hands aren’t doing much better. I know it sounded kind of funny at first, but they are totally messed up. My friend Miki says it is probably some sort of pinched nerve in my back causing the problems. All I know is that I wear these rubber gloves at work when I’m handling the mail, and the size I usually wear doesn’t fit anymore because my hands are so swollen—kind of like Jan Michael Vincent’s face when he was all fucked up on booze and drugs.

But this isn’t about my hands, so let’s stop talking about ‘em. This is about—among other the things—the miracle that is the United States Postal Service. Now, I know some of you may not think of miracles in the same thought as the post office, but having worked there, and seeing how things are run, it is truly a miracle that any one piece of mail ever arrives at its intended destination.

Last night I reported for duty, even though I was not on the schedule. On my very first day I told a supervisor that I needed this coming Thursday off—that was nearly a month ago. Well, when the schedule came out, I was down for Thursday night. I told the same supervisor I could not work Thursday, so she told me to come in Monday, which was last night. When I arrived, the supervisor on duty—a different one—did not know I was supposed to be there. In other words, I could have not gone in to work, and no one would have missed me. But the beautiful part was that they were totally short-handed last night. If I had not gone in, they would have had one less person, and as it was, there weren’t enough people on duty. We were slammed. And this was just the beginning of the total ineptitude I witnessed last night.

At one point during the shift I was stuck doing Bullshit Task #1. I had been doing Bullshit Task #1 for several hours, and had gotten quite good at it, when the Scary Supervisor came and got me. This one particular supervisor scares the shit out of me, and I do my best to avoid her. She reminds me of a warden in one of Cirio Santiago’s women-in-prison films, and I can easily see her torturing someone by strapping them to a rickety metal bed frame, and them electrocuting them with jumper cables and a hand-cranked generator. So, Scary Supervisor comes looking for me, and pulls me off of Bullshit Task #1—which I was doing well—and puts me on Bullshit Task #2. The only problem is that Bullshit Task #2 involves placing a certain type of mail on a conveyor belt to a processing station that is not equipped to process that type of mail. After I figured that out, she sent me to do Bullshit Task #3, which was a job I had never really done before, so I didn’t know what I was doing, which made me slow, which negated her whole desire to speed up the process by which the mail gets distributed. Once Scary Supervisor realized I was too slow at Bullshit Task #3, she sent me off to do Bullshit Task #4, which was actually Bullshit Task #1. After nearly 30 minutes, I was right back where I stared, and had somehow managed to get no work done. And this is the sort of efficiency used to run the post office.

Last night was a great example of how poorly things are run, and the total lack of communication that goes on. Everyone seems to be reacting rather acting. Every decision seems to be made without any forethought. No one ever seems to know exactly why they are doing what they are doing. This one Asian guy told me last night, “I do what everyone around me is doing, and if I’m doing something wrong, I just pretend I don’t understand English.”

That was pretty much my night. I had an extremely intense conversation with myself about life and death, but I’ll save that for later. When I finally got to sleep, I had this weird dream. I usually don’t remember my dreams with any great detail, but when I do, I figure it must mean something significant. Earlier this morning I dreamt that I was going to buy this weird antique bicycle, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to make the investment. I went into this bike shop to talk to the people who worked there, to see if it was a wise purchase, and I met a woman named Donna. We hit it off, and as the dream progressed we fell in love, and it was great because she returned my phone calls and responded to my emails, and didn’t make me wonder what the fuck was going on between us. But then I woke up, and my first thought was, “Damn, that was a dream. Well, at least I didn’t really spend all that money on the antique bicycle.” But then I realized that my relationship with Donna was part of the dream, and I became profoundly depressed. Now, here’s the weird part—it turns out I was still dreaming. This was one of my famous dreams-within-a-dream. So, even though I didn’t realize I was still dreaming, I was all fucked up because Donna wasn’t real. But in my mind I kept thinking that the dream seemed so real, that maybe there was some truth to it. So I went back to the bicycle shop, which was now a bike shop, combined with a book store and a restaurant, and I looked for Donna. But she wasn’t there. As I was leaving, trying to figure out why I had had such an intense dream about a woman I had never met, I walked past Donna in the restaurant. She said to me, I’ve been waiting for you.” I said to her, “But we met in a dream.” And she said, “I know, but this is real.”

And then I woke up from that dream, with my hands swollen—unable to jack off—facing the reality that I had less than five hours before I needed to be at work. At least I’ll have plenty of time to think about the meaning of the dream while fucking with the mail.

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