About going postal over orange slips | AspenTimes.com

About going postal over orange slips

Barry Smith
Aspen, CO Colorado

I think I’ve figured it out. Yes, it. All of it. I understand it all now.

This moment of clarity came to me, as these things often do, at the post office. And not just one, but TWO visits to the P.O. were required to reach this universal understanding. Yes, two visits. It’s that serious.

Here’s how things work in my small-town post office.

If someone mails you a package that’s too big to fit in your post office box, this package gets stored elsewhere, and you get a small orange piece of paper notifying you of this. You take this paper, known as an orange slip, to one of the friendly and helpful postpersons at the counter, and then they retrieve your package for you.

If there’s a line of customers, the postal worker person will announce, “Anyone else in line with just an orange slip?” Then all those who are just in line to grab their package get to come forward with their slips.

This is very efficient, right? I mean, the clerk’s already going back to the place where the jumbo packages are kept, so why not multitask, grab a bunch of packages at once, right? Very efficient and customer-oriented. Who could argue with such a great policy?

Good question.

Visit No. 1: I’m in line to mail some packages and am in a hurry for some reason or another. I’m third in a line of seven or eight, and there are only two people working the counter. The next woman up has an orange slip.

Anybody else in line with just an orange slip?

And every single person behind me walks forward. Now I’m last in line, and the post guy is going to take that much longer getting all those packages! How totally unfair. I waited in line just like everyone else did.

Why do these other losers get cuts just because of their stupid orange slips?

Conclusion: The orange Slip policy is unfair … and I hate it.

Visit No. 2: I unlock my post office box and find, you betcha, an orange slip. I walk around the corner to the counter and see that the line is all the way back to the door! Nooo! I take my place at the end and I notice, way up in the front of the line, a woman is holding her orange slip out rather prominently, as if to subliminally cause one of the posties to send out the call prematurely. This means that, despite being practically outside on the sidewalk, I’m actually second in line! The orange slip call comes, and I march happily forward, hand it over, and wait in the corner for my name to be called while the rest of the schlubs stand in line with their packages, or whatever.

Conclusion: The orange slip policy makes a tremendous amount of sense … and I love it.

How can this be? How can I both love and hate the exact same policy on two different days? The policy doesn’t change. The slip color doesn’t fluctuate. I just think it’s unfair when it works against me, and brilliant when it works for me. And surely, I can’t be the only one.

Something big is going on here, and I believe I’ve put my finger on it. I don’t know much about quantum physics, but that doesn’t stop me from pretending that I do, and I think I’ve discovered a principle that will take its place alongside the Theory of Relativity.

It is, ahem.

The Orange Slip Theory of the Universe: An object at peace tends to remain at peace, unless acted upon by a force that it deems unfair, even if it’s the exact same force that, just earlier that morning, seemed, like, totally fair, maybe even brilliant, but now that force is lame and biased and should be eliminated, except that tomorrow it’ll probably seem like a good idea again, so maybe things really are OK after all.

I’m thinking this discovery will change my life, and not just because of the grant money I’m probably now eligible for. No, I think that finally my name will be mentioned alongside that of Einstein, only this time WITHOUT the inclusion of the words “he sure ain’t no.”


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