You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’

I had been dreading the approach of my brother’s birthday because it meant I should send him a package. I had not yet figured out how to send mail at Tufts University or where this was done, and so I tried not to worry about it while I assembled his present. Finally, though, the day came when I had to go out and find the post office. I looked it up and then began my walk to the post office conveniently located in Curtis Hall by Brown and Brew. Now, I am one of those people who is not very knowledgeable about mailing things, and I was a little nervous. I walked into the cozy little room and approached the available counter. I clumsily muttered that I had to mail something and the woman behind the counter beamed at me, asking me what it was. I set my brother’s present on the counter, and I noticed that part of the card I had made was falling apart, and so the woman provided me with tape. While I fixed the card she weighed the gift, explaining the fastest, cheapest and safest ways to ship it.

I am a little bit of an eavesdropper; I noticed the woman behind the counter next to me saying to the student she was helping, “You sure you want to send it in this pretty box? If you send it in one of ours it will be cheaper.” The girl replied that it had to be the pretty box because it was her brother’s birthday. I couldn’t help myself; I smiled, laughed and told her it was my brother’s birthday too. Then we discussed where we were from and it turned out she lived, like me, on the West Coast and that in fact she lived in Oakland, just across the bay from where I live in San Francisco. We laughed and tried to return to our own business, but the post office ladies intervened and made us introduce ourselves.

Focusing on my present again, we determined the cheapest and fastest way to send it was in a flat−rate box. While the post lady built the box for me, she eyed my gift. She said, “You should protect that. Here, I think we have some newspapers, and since it’s flat−rate the weight doesn’t matter. Here, use all of these.” A little shocked by her care for my gift, I began stuffing newspaper around it, and soon enough my card was being put in an envelope to protect it from getting hurt in the box. Then it was time for postage and the woman smiled, “We are going to use some celebration stamps to spice it up a little.” Sure enough, she pasted a couple of brightly colored stamps covered with confetti and with the word “celebrate” in the middle. She continued, “Now do you want to insure this?” I laughed, “It’s just a water bottle.” She insisted it had been a reasonable question. “You decorated it yourself. We wouldn’t want it getting hurt.” Flattered, I denied the offer anyway. My package was now ready to bring a taste of fall to my brother on the West Coast — I decorated the bottle with colored leaves. I felt my package had gotten the best care it could.

As I walked out, the woman who had helped me proudly told the other woman how cheaply we had done it, and the other woman retorted, “I guess it just depends on how you want to do it; my girl wanted a nice package so that it was special for her brother.” Then the woman who had helped me replied, “Well my girl made her gift herself, by hand.” They were each so loyal to the girl they had helped and were quite absorbed in debating the merits of our gifts. I left the post office no longer nervous, but beaming and giggling. I could not wait to send my next package or buy stamps.

I had to make sure to tell my brother to notice the special stamps, and now I want to tell you to notice the post office. They are such nice people that they make you want to mail things. Perhaps you live close, but for those of us who live far away, the post office allows us to let people know we are thinking about them. Please take the time to hike your survey to Mail Services at Hill Hall by Nov. 23, because otherwise Tufts University will no longer have this little post office tucked away inside Curtis Hall. The survey can be found at Tufts.edu/central/mailservices/posurvey.pdf. (If it doesn’t work at first, refresh the page.) This survey allows you to explain your experiences at the post office and how its closure would affect you and the community. Take the time to walk to Hill Hall now because it will be a shorter walk than the walk to wherever you may want to send a package next.


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