Potential Accidents

img00741.jpgI went to the post office yesterday at around 2:15 PM. The branch closest to me is located nearby the Hudson County Courthouse on Newark Ave. in Jersey City. The stretch of road is dead after 8 PM, but bustling during the day, with a fair share of people overflow hitting the post office throughout the cyclic lunch hours of courthouse employees.

Inside the post office, a decrepit post-nuclear box of a room with tattered government warning posters and paint-peeling walls, I noticed a sign posted on the wall. It read “Report all accidents/potential accidents to the supervisor at once.”

Because the line was long, and varied, and slow-moving, I was left speculating about the idea of a “potential accident.” And because the line continued to remain moving as slowly as possible (prompting one older man behind me to walk out frustrated yelling, “Dumbbells, cock suckers!” which in itself should’ve been what I was focussing on), I started imagining all of the potential accidents I could report to the absent supervisor, including the following:

“Excuse me sir, but there’s a stack of Priority Mail envelopes stacked on the shelf rather crooked. The corners, if taped together and sharpened using a dull blade, could cause a potential accident should anyone trip, fall and impale themselves while in line.”

Followed by:

“Excuse me sir, but the increase in stamp pricing last May, from 41 cents to 42 cents, might hinder some alcoholics from purchasing their nightly fix, which might in turn cause alcohol withdrawal, which could lead to death. It would be a horrible potential accident if that happened.”

And finally:

“Excuse me sir, but if the government doesn’t figure out a way to keep two clerks working during the later lunch hours of the day, the lines of frustrated customers will continue to increase, prompting worldwide hysteria, more people yelling “Dumbbells, cock suckers” and eventually, a postal customer taking back the expression “Going postal” for themselves and shooting up an entire post office. It would be a tragic, potential accident.”

I looked down at my watch. It was 2:50 PM, and there were still two people ahead of me on line. An African American man with a name tag that read “Lenny,” denim shorts, a beret and suspenders, followed by a Sikh woman with a stack of wedding invitations, and myself, clutching a stack of paperwork headed for Germany along with a gas and electric bill. Potential accidents and frustrated slices of Americana aside, the post office was nothing more than another line on another day with yet another way to laugh at how humanity loves to torture itself. At least that’s how I potentially envisioned it…

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