I have limitless sympathy for those trapped in thankless, miserable jobs. Especially postal workers and bus drivers. I read somewhere that bus driver is the second most stressful job in existence. First was bomb disposal expert. As one who has done time in retail, I can qualify that the epithet 'The customer is always right' is utterly incorrect. In fact the reverse is true. The customer is almost always wrong. I once had a row with a customer who asked me if we kept their credit card receipt 'in the vault'
'In the where?'
'The vault. Surely its kept securely in the vault'
'We don't have a vault'
'No vault? There where is it kept?'
'In the till'
'Incredible. I would have thought you'd have a vault for such things'
Which has nothing to little to do with this next tale, which occurred last week. I had a letter to post, but the post office is fairly distant and usually packed. So, its avoidance had nothing to do with the quality of the staff, with whom I am in total solidarity. But there is a post box near by, so I intended to make that my destination.
However as I approached, I witnessed the unmistakable signs of kafuffle. The post-box appeared to be taped off. Nothing else was off limits. Just the post-box. There was a length of tape stretching from the wall, across the pavement, around the post-box and back to the wall. Pedestrians stepped out into the road to avoid this unexplained inconvenience.
I followed the line of tape, and tried to place my item of mail into the box. Someone in a uniform, previously unseen, made a sound of officialdom.
I stopped in mid-post.
'This box isn't in use. Don't you see the tape?' He said.
'But I can reach the slot' I tried.
'Sorry. It’s off limits'
'Why?' I asked. I looked up and around. I saw no unexplained packages or prospective leapers from the over-hanging ledge.
'I can't tell you' I was told.
It was then I noticed this uniformed figure wasn't a policeman. You'll find this hard to believe, but I swear he was a St Johns Ambulanceman. I tried to allow my expression to confirm this and register my unease. I think the gentleman knew further difficult questions were about to surface and moved away. I looked around, trying to find some like-minded types as confused and disgusted as I amongst my pedestrian brethren. But they were happy to take a small diversion around the post-box, possibly even enjoying this distraction. I really couldn't fathom it. If there was a suspect device or wounded mammal trapped in the box, surely the exclusion zone should have been larger or unnecessary, depending on the situation. And why was a stretcher-bearer in charge?
I attempted to give the St Johns Ambulanceman a withering glance as I retreated and was forced to traipse to the post office after all. Post offices workers are fine, as I have expressed. Over zealous first aid officials bearing tape are a pain in the arse.