So yeah, that moment when you realize you’ve just asked a really stupid question.
Happened last week at the Post Office, when I was buying international stamps. They’re $1.10 each. My first stupid question: “These work in Canada, right?” The nice postal clerk lady clearly has answered that one once or 10,000 times before, so she didn’t even look up when saying “Yup.”
Now, I know myself and I know there will be a time when I’ll have no domestic stamps. I’ll have only one of these international stamps sitting on my desk and I’ll be staring at it and weighing the benefits of spending $1.10 to mail a 45-cent letter against getting in the car and spending $1 in gas driving to get the right stamps and save 65 cents. Or Facebooking about how I hate story problems.
So that seemed like a good time to ask the nice postal clerk lady if these international stamps (if you’re following along, remember, they are $1.10 each) can be used in place of a domestic “forever” stamp (currently 45 cents) for a domestic letter.
She stopped dead in her tracks and just stared at me.
Now, I’ve seen that look before. It’s usually the first indication that I’ve just asked something really stupid. The second indication is the smack upside my head. But postal clerks don’t do that — only my mother did that.
She says, in one of the greatest Southern drawls you’ll ever hear, “Honey, if y’all wanna spend a buck ten to mail a 45-cent letter, you just knock yourself out,” and hands me my stamps and smiles.
Ah, yes, good point. Now it was my turn to smile. “Are the liberal arts majors of the world really that obvious? I mean, can you see us coming?”
She laughed hysterically. One of those huge, awesome laughs as if she doesn’t care who’s looking or how long you’ve been waiting in line behind the chatty Liberal Arts major. “Yeah, but the thing about the liberal arts majors is that they’re usually pretty funny.”
Ah, I see your funny and raise you a funny: “Hey, you gotta have a sense of humor when you spend several thousand dollars and six years of your life getting a degree for a job that pays about 15 grand a year out of college.”
Then she says, “You think that’s bad? The phrase ‘Going Postal’ is coined after us. But honey, your question isn’t the dumbest I’ve answered here. That would be, “Can I buy stamps here?”
That was about the time the engineer from MIT cleared his throat behind me. Okay, okay, hold your theorems, pal. I’m leaving, I’m leaving …