Thursday, July 28, 2011

Neither rain nor sleet nor cancelled doctor's appointment

7/26/11 Chester to Carbondale

There she stands, in nearly every town, even those without supemarkets, without gas stations. Typically white or baby blue, most always brick, clean American flag blowing in the (head)wind. A beacon of hope for a weary traveler who is out of Clif bars and motivation. Ladies and gentleman, the post office.

Today contains a story that is another testament to the true magnificence that is the United States Postal Service. In the office at Gorham, Illinois, where I was mailing home a wine glass to myself, I left my stupid credit card. I discovered this fact before trying to pay for a cookie dough blizzard (lunch blizzard). I promptly called Marietta Gerler of the USPS, who I had already had a lengthy and warm chat with that morning. She said, "Oh my, my. I'm so glad you called. I was so busted up when I saw that you had left it."

These people, they get so emotional. Let me remind you a bit of my postal service experience this summer. I have had a package delivered to my bike, on the road, in the dead desloation of mid-Kansas. I have had people bend over backwards to fit things into tiny, cheap, flat rate boxes. I have been greeted, upon entering the post office, in more than one state with, "You must be Lauren Kraft." To which I respond, you must have guessed from my naturally curly hair.
They know, because my package is the only package that has come through General Delivery and has been sitting on the dusty floor for a week.

"Tell ya what," she said, like she was about to tell me a secret, "I'll drive it to ya after work. Will you be in Murphsboro?" I was in Murhysboro but didn't plan to stay. We planned to push on.

"I will be. You would do that? You don't need to do that. You really don't need to do that." But I wanted her to. And I'm sure she could sense that. We ended up spending the afternoon in the library, waiting for the card. We met Marietta at the Casey's combination fuel and pizza place. When she arrived, I half expected her to hand me the card through her window and leave. Then I remembered what kind of people we're dealing with out here. She got out of the car and hugged me as though she were my own grandmother. As if she felt desperate that I was out in the heat and would do anything to get me out of it. "Im just so glad you called me. I get to be someone's angel today. That makes ms happy."

She had driven twenty miles out of her way on a workday to give me my card. She said originally, she had had a doctor's appointment in Murphsboro, but it had cancelled. She had come just for me. I asked for her address.

"I'm going to send you the best Christmas card ever."

"I really hope you do. I really hope you do." She hugged me twice more and slid out the parking lot in her big fat Oldsmobile.

Anyway, enough schmoopy. We rode ten more miles to Carbondale. Civilization! College students! Jimmy Johns! Bike shops and co-ops! We love it here. Hit up the grocery for the usual granola yogurt breakfast. Found a motel. We went for something cheap. The online reviews read, "Wouldn't wish this place on my enemy...hope you like rats crawling on your face...actual puke on the curtains." It goes on and on. I googled it in front of Chris, the screen pointed away from him.

"What does it say?"

"Uh. Four stars. Recently remodeled." Yeah, that's the ticket.
In the lobby, a very pregnant angry woman, covered in eye makeup in all the wrong places, eyed my sweaty face skeptically.

"Someone told me on the phone, if we pay cash, it's cheaper."

"Uhh. Ok. How does forty bucks sound?" Done.

We were on the second floor. No elevator. Two heavy bikes. Like a Laurel and Hardy scene. Ridiculous. I stuck the keycard in and winced.

King sized bed, elaborate headboard, giant tv, armoir with gold trim, couch, suite-sized.

"Ohhhh. There's so funny operations going on here."

"Definitely. Something."

Biggest and cheapest place we have stayed yet. We don't know the details and we don't want to. Slept like a baby.


  1. I told your dad that I am trying to capture some of your writing style in the occasional creative piece I get to write. When I am not enlightening my readers on eyelid slamming topics like the subtle benefits of viscosity extending compounds in 4-wheel drive transaxles (yes, really), I attempt to channel some of your wildly entertaining style in my work.

    Maybe it would help if I sat on an incredibly painful seat, wore stinky clothes and ate a steady diet of high-calorie junk food. Wait ... I already do that.


  2. Oh man. Tech writing. Sounds like so much... fun. Let's go camping when I get back. I miss you.

  3. A most relevant and poignant essay, coming as it does on the heels of the announced post office closures. From your descriptions, it sounds as if some of those very offices might be ones slated for shuttering. History rolls forward on unforgiving wheels.

  4. I want her address too. I am going to send her a Christmas card also. Maybe a Honey Baked Ham!