So, I goofed.
Like $200 bad.
I work at the post office, and if you’ve used the post office for something other than buying sweet Batman stamps, you know that we also dabble in money services. More specifically the cashing and sale of money orders. I work in a small office in a small town where many residents forego checks or credit cards, and prefer to pay their bills with the trusted money order. This couldn’t be truer than for a customer on Friday. I’ll call her Lady L.
Lady L has a bad habit of coming in anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes before I close to purchase a grand or more in money orders. She’ll tell you everything she’s spending them on, too. This one’s for the truck; that one’s for the house. This one is that damned retirement that the coal company is trying to take away. Did she mention how much she hates the coal company CEO? Yeah, she probably did. Twice.
So, true to form, she walks through the door, bills in hand and complaints on her lips. Her order was simple enough: four money orders, three stamps, and one stamped envelope, por favor. I went straight to work while Lady L rambled on. Something about that damned Murrey not “gettin’ them boys back to work,” and something else about her grandkids driving her nuts, briefly pausing to tell me the total of the next money order I had to ring up. All the while I’m keeping track of the purchase on a manual office calculator (the postal service doesn’t put nice, fancy computer machines in pleabian offices such as mine).
Finally, the end of the transaction had come. The damage? $1,215.98. Not bad for a month’s worth of bills. She starts counting it out as I start to count it down. Then something happens with the calculator. I goof and hit a button, clearing the total completely. Now, this isn’t something new. It’s a known fact that I hate this calculator as much as it probably hates me, if calculators were Decepticons and Decepticons were assholes, that is. Usually when this happens, I have the gumption to quickly add the total back up and start again. But, I’ve been on a kick recently as to where I’m trying to not doubt myself so much, and I was sure I knew the total. So, I punched it back into the calculator and moved on.
It took me about 15 minutes to realize I had fucked up. Hard. My pulse quickened. I started calling myself stupid. I looked up her phone number in hopes of catching her before she blew the extra money she didn’t think she’d have this week. The phone was disconnected. My heart sank.
You see, here at the post office, they don’t take too kindly to shortages. If I’m $200 in the black (as in I shortchanged someone) well, count better next time, and thanks for the tip. But, if I’m the one that’s short, we have a problem. This isn’t Walmart. I don’t walk away with a slap on the wrist and a copy of a copy of a disciplinary report. No, if it is over $10, I have to pay for it. Out of pocket. And that’s exactly what I did. To make the deposit, I had to whip out my debit card and charge it. Thank God I just got my tax return.
Lady L is a regular. She’s usually here minutes after I open, wondering why the mail isn’t up yet (FYI: mailmen and women HATE it when you ask if the mail is up, so stop asking). I knew I’d see her again soon. So, I wrote a kind note, explaining what happened and asking if she could bring in the $200. I put it in her box and hoped for the best. In my hoping, though, I also started planning for the worst. What if she says tough titties and I don’t get reimbursed? Can I scare it out of her? Will she understand my logic? Does she think I’m lying? I spent my entire weekend worrying about it, planning what I’d say if she said no. Then today happened.
My wife has been the sane one during all of this. She criticizes me all the time for saying that I believe in people, and then never trusting anybody. Her criticism is place rightly, I feel. While I spent the last few nights sucking down beers to try and forget my double Franklin done-goof, she told me to trust that Lady L would do the right thing and bring the money back. And if not? Oh well. Lesson learned. I tried to believe that, but with every thought of Lady L just waltzing in, laughing it off, and handing me the money came another thought of her going redneck crazy, calling me stupid, and running out the door. You know what happened?
My wife was right.
Lady L didn’t put up a fight. She didn’t call me stupid. She came in, asked what happened, I explained, and she dropped four frowning Grants down on the counter. I was shocked. My boss was shocked. My wife was vindicated. This was yet another scenario where I should have just listened to my wife. Unless it’s Star Wars, she knows what she’s talking about.
If I learned anything from my $200 mistake it’s that I should learn to trust people, within reason, of course. If some stinky guy is offering me a look at puppies in the back of his van, I should probably say no. But, how can I say that I have faith in humanity to do the right thing when I was ready to threaten someone with the all-mighty power of the post office over $200 that they planned on bringing back anyway? I guess that in the end, Lady L did make me feel stupid, but not in the way that I had imagined and to no fault of her own. I guess it took me almost losing $200 to realize that I should give people the benefit of the doubt and have faith that what is right will prevail in the end. And, if it doesn’t, I can always call up the Postal Inspectors to arrest their ass.