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Thursday, December 12, 2002

Just imagine the horror I felt when I opened my mailbox and discovered the buff-colored slip informing me that I had certified mail. Just imagine. When I walked to the other end of the building and found that the line ended outside the lobby door, I walked away. But it occurred to me that maybe someone was sending me a check, and I can ill afford to walk away from that.

So I got in line and waited. There's nothing quite like the post office in December, and I don't know why anyone would be there without pressing business to complete. Why, for example, would a man bring his two-year-old to the post office less than two weeks before Christmas, unless... well, I can't even think of a reason, unless he had no choice. Nobody else who could watch the child and nobody else who could handle this particular chore.

Just imagine my horror when— wait, not that again. I was more than mildly surprised when I found out why he was taking up the clerk's time, not to mention everyone waiting behind him in line, plus his unbelievably patient little boy. He was returning junk mail. He had a foot-high pile of catalogs that he wanted to give back to the postal service, along with the request not to deliver any more of them.

The clerk, who was more sympathetic than I would have been and much more understanding than the poor, exasperated mother who was next in line with her own little girl, explained that the catalogs were addressed to "Current Resident," and they were required to deliver them. "Do you mean I have to throw them away?" he wanted to know.

"Either that or just leave them in your box," she said, as she went through each item to make sure it wasn't something she could return to the sender.

When my turn finally came, imagine my horror when I found out that I wasn't receiving a check. Why else would I stand in line that long? It wasn't even mail addressed to me. It was a certified letter that I had sent out more than a week ago, returned as undeliverable because I'd used an old form without a bar code on it.

Somehow the post office had managed to cancel the stamps and get the envelope all the way to the receiving office before they figured out they couldn't deliver the mail. Which was obviously important, or I wouldn't have sent it certified, with return receipt requested. Which I have to do again, if I can find some of the new certified forms with the bar code.

You'd think the clerk would have offered the forms I needed. Maybe if I'd had a toddler along with me, she'd have taken more time.


Cloudy in the west.

Horrifying as all this was, it wasn't anywhere close to the worst part of my day. We're bidding work tomorrow for the City of San Francisco. There's no way to imagine the horror that entails, and I'm not inclined to relive it all here. Forms upon forms, certifications, notarizations, affidavits, promises, promises. You have to promise not to discriminate on any basis whatsoever (including, apparently, ability). And that's only the tip of the horror. Just imagine.

I'm not sure I read everything I signed. I think I might have promised not to expose anyone's domestic partner to lead-based paint. There's more than a little paranoia involved (this being San Francisco), and I also promised I wasn't an agent of the federal government (which is obviously trying to infiltrate city construction contracts for its own nefarious purposes).

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We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman
Until the other kiddies knock him down.