When I stopped by the Westminster Post Office last week to mail a few packages, the line stretched along the entire counter, all the way across the rooms and to the other side of the entrance doors. I had to mail my packages, so I got in line.
One lady, a few people up from me, sighed loudly and dropped out of line, briskly walking toward the doors and then exiting. I couldn’t help but think about the postal workers and the number of hours they had to be on their feet, greeting the public and smiling until their faces hurt, lifting packages, bending and lifting, bending and lifting. I felt for them.
A moment later, the lady in front of me smiled and said, “You must really need to mail those.”
And so began a lovely conversation. She is a retired teacher and she spoke of how she tried to teach her students to be kind to others and to always, always write thank you notes.
“Kids don’t want to write them anymore, but when someone takes the time to write it in a note and send it you know they really appreciated the gift,” she said. I nodded in total agreement. I love that trickle-down effect. Whatever we teach kids, it trickles down to the next generation and the next. At least that is the hope. “You live what you learn,” my friend used to say.
Before we knew it, we were at the front of the line. How had that long grueling line moved so quickly? I looked at the clock and realized it had not moved all that quick. It only seemed that way because I had enjoyed my time in line.
The clerk who greeted me looked weary, but he smiled and didn’t miss a beat
“You must be exhausted,” I said.
“I worked last night,” he said. As we conversed, I learned that for postal workers, overtime is mandatory during the holidays — unless someone else agrees to work for you, and he had been working his extra shifts plus shifts for others.
Wow, I thought. All this so that we, the general public, can get our last-minute gifts to friends and family on time. I feel for these hard workers. Working a lot of hours can make anyone grumpy, but I have never had a clerk at the Westminster Post Office who wasn’t friendly and kind, and I am there often to mail out books.
Later that day, when I was shopping Amazon online, I thought about all the delivery guys who are out there working extra hours. At Christmastime, this is the easiest way to browse through a lot of items and order many things without going to multiple stores, but someone out there is picking up all that extra work.
That night, while watching television I saw something so cool. A lady had put a basket of snacks on her porch with a sign thanking her delivery guys and inviting them to help their self to a snack. My husband and I looked at each other. “What a great idea!”
I thought I might put out a snack basket for the delivery guy, but before I could do it, I saw that my daughter, Ashley, had already done it at her home in Frederick. Her husband, Jason Fraley, had posted a photo on Facebook of a basket of goodies on their porch.
“The Christmas spirit is alive!” he wrote. “My wife Ashley Marie knows the true meaning of giving. This woman really gets it. Please do the same.”
I wondered if Ashley had seen the same news clip on television, but she said no, she’d found the idea on Pinterest. The basket had so many goodies in it: Goldfish crackers and Snickers bars, bags of chips and pretzels, Russell Stover chocolates, sodas and a candy cane full of M&Ms.
I shared my son-in-law’s post on my Facebook page and people started chiming in.
“My daughter works for the USPS and I hope that someone on her routes would be kind enough to do this,” wrote Charlene Pittman, whose daughter is working six days a week through the holiday season, often not getting home until after 8 p.m.
Cathy Stewart posted a photo of the pile of handwritten thank you notes she carries with her to stores to give to workers who give it their all on the job
“The smallest acts of kindness are so meaningful,” Stewart wrote. “I hand these thank-you notes everywhere I go,” she wrote. “Retail workers and anyone who deals with the public deserves a thank-you with the customers they tolerate on a regular basis, especially this time of year.”
Stewart later told me about the reaction of a lady at McDonald’s just the week before. She said the worker told her, “You don’t realize how much this means to me. I just lost my husband eight months ago and things are so tough right now."
The lady even came out from behind the counter for a hug.
“We never know what a simple hello, thank you, a smile or hug means to someone,” Stewart said. I agree. We don’t know what is going on in their lives and how we might make a difference with one small act of kindness.
Lori Fishkind shared how she used to deliver Amazon through the post office on Sundays and on postal holidays.
“These baskets were a life saver,” she said, and then, for the multiple people posting on my page that they were going to put out baskets, too, Fishkind suggested putting out bars or other things that are easy to eat with one hand while on the run.
At this busy time of year, I’m hoping we all take time to consider all who are out there making it easier for us to shop and eat on the run. But I’m off now, to put together a porch basket full of goodies!