Sep 18, 2011

The Irony of Chodesh Elul

I was in the post office today, though I usually try to avoid such masochistic torture. I have avoided going to the post office for many months because of the famously long lines that can always be guaranteed when a trip to the post office becomes necessary. Unfortunately, such a trip could no longer be avoided.

Sure enough, the crowd was impressive, and there was only one clerk serving the entire neighborhood. Not only was the crowd impressive, but the people kept coming and the crowd kept growing. I settled in for a bit of a wait, and the crowd was in a fairly patient and pleasant mood.

Eventually, with about 5 people still scheduled to take care of their business ahead of me, and a few behind me, a woman comes in with 2 kids. You could right away tell she was intending to cut the line - she goes right up to the desk and asks if there is anybody else who can help. Then she says loudly in a frustrated tone while taking money out of her purse that she only needs one thing, she has to buy a stamped envelope for her daughters gan (before the holidays the gan kids send shana tova greeting cards to their grandparents. One of the things I had to do was buy such a stamp as well, and at least one other person said that was all she was there for as well).

She clearly expected that nobody would make a big deal out of it. Sure enough, a few people did, and rightfully so. Everybody was there waiting patiently in line, she did not have an emergency and could have waited as well. While I personally might have let her cut before me if it was just me (as happens regularly in the supermarket), when you have so many people waiting, most for small things as well, it just was not going to happen.

I would add that had she gone over to the people waiting and asked politely saying she was in a rush and had to get her kid to school, etc. people would most likely have allowed her in. I think so, at least. Her problem was that she felt she was entitled to demand it of people who were waiting patiently.

Anyway, so people start calling out to her telling her to wait her turn, I am also here only for something small, I have been waiting 20 minutes already, etc. and she saw it was not going to happen and gave it up. After waiting about 2 minutes resigned to the fact that she would have to wait in line, she hustled her kids out of the post office and muttered, loudly, in a frustrated and disappointed tone, "chodesh elul", as if saying that she cannot believe that during the month of elul people have such bad manners that they would not recognize her emergency and let her cut the line.

The irony of her invoking "chodesh elul" considering her own behavior was entertaining as people wondered incredulously what she really expected...

3 comments:

  1. Due to the competance level of one of the staff members, often the line moves faster with one person.

    At least they didn't need to call in the police.

    http://weloveyoubutwearegoinganyway.blogspot.com/2009/11/going-postal.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. I feel for you, Rafi, and you are not alone.

    In our "capital city" of St. Helier here in Jersey (population ~28,000: 31% of our island's total) we have but one Post Office. Last Friday morning I stood in line for 34 minutes waiting to collect a small package that Jersey Post could not be bothered to deliver to my home.

    During that time seven people tried the RBS ruse of jumping the queue on the pretext of only wanting a single stamp.

    None of them had the chutzpah to plead "chodesh Elul", though - and I for one will not tell them!

    Best wishes from a small kehilla on a small island off northern Europe!

    ReplyDelete
  3. chaim - i guess post offices around the world suffer the same exact problems

    ReplyDelete

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