Whew! What a week and then some. Between working late nights, going out of town, and preparing tax returns in time for the dreaded Tax Day, I feel as though I've been hit over the head several times with a ball peen hammer. Like most years, I prepared not only my own tax returns, but also Shorty's and my children's. They had to be mailed by midnight tonight, so this morning I drove into the city to take the returns to the main post office (always an exercise that puts me in a foul temper) and decided that - rather than trust the bundle to the letter box - I would actually wait in line and hand the returns to a human being - removing all doubt that I made the deadline. Three windows at the post office were open. Two of the postal workers worked in a lively, happy and efficient way. The third looked about as cheerful as someone who had been weaned on a pickle, and her manner suggested an annoyance that postal customers had the effrontery to show up on her shift. I silently prayed, "Please don't let me get her...please don't let me get her..." I watched as the line moved up, trying to calculate how long each person might take by what they were carrying..."please don't let me get her...please..." I'm now first in line. I wait - eyes darting in a panic from window to window. "Next!" shouted old pickle puss. "Hi!" I said brightly. No response. "Um...I have my tax returns here, and ..." She whipped them up and tossed them somewhere underneath the counter. "Next!" I nervously stepped aside...the line moved up. I hovered around the lobby for a moment or two, debating whether I should get back in line and ask her to give my returns back so I could drop them in the letter box. I knew, of course, that once the envelopes are in the hands of the United States Postal Service, they belong to the government and not to me. I could have kicked myself for going through the extra effort of going downtown. The island branch would have been fine. Damn, damn, damn. I drove back to the office with a furrowed brow. Where had she thrown them? Would she remember throwing them there? Were they thrown in the right place? Would they get postmarked by midnight?
After fretting awhile, I decided to just let it go. I've convinced myself that pickle puss is the most efficient and highly sought after postal clerk at that branch. Maybe even Employee-Of-The-Month. If anyone will make certain my tax returns get to Uncle Sam on time, she will. Oh, sure. Her co-workers can afford to smile and laugh and engage in friendly banter with the customers. Life is all beer and skittles for them. But pickle puss has a heavier burden. After all, you can't play the clown when you're the one running the circus!