My son, Christian, asked me to send him a suit, dress shoes and some ties because he is attending a fraternity function on Friday night. He’s not in the fraternity yet, but is being invited to this function as part of the rush process. The whole rushing and pledging process seems a little barbaric to me, but then again, I don’t really understand all of this fraternity and sorority business. I don’t know the difference between rushing and pledging and initiating. It gives me a headache trying to make sense of it all. We didn’t have fraternities and sororities when I was in college. Now, it’s not like I went to school during the era when the temple mound builders roamed the earth. I’m not that old. Fraternities and sororities had been invented by the time I was a coed. We just didn’t have them in…ahem…the Ivy League.
I’m always a little reluctant to mention I’m an Ivy Leaguer. You see when I disclose the fact that I attended Yale, it seems every Tom, Dick, and Harry I’ve ever met thinks it’s hilariously funny to make a big deal whenever I do something stupid. It never fails. I make some awful blunder and there is always someone lurking around the corner just waiting to ask me sarcastically, ‘Where was it you went to college again?” Even the tiniest of gaffes arouses the comic in the nicest of people, “So you must have been a REALLY good athlete, eh?” Chortle, chortle, chortle. Let’s all get a good laugh at the expense of the nerdy girl. Stuff like that really irks me. Sheesh. And by the way, I’m not even that smart. Seriously, I’m pretty sure if I were applying to Yale today, I would not be wait-listed, let alone get in.
Where was I? That’s right. Christian called to ask me to send him a suit, dress shoes, and a few ties for this formal fraternity function to which he was invited. Call me dependable because within 30 minutes of Christian’s phone call, I had rifled through his closet, pulled everything together and was heading for the UPS store. I walked in the door and took note that there was one person in line ahead of me who seemed to be shipping several packages. Getting a jump on Christmas, I’ll bet. My mind wandered a bit as I waited for my turn, and in the meantime several other people came into the store and fell in line behind me.
“Who’s next?” the clerk queried to the group of us. Even though, I might add, it was obvious that I was the next customer in line.
“I am,” I said raising my hand.
“How can I help you?”
“I’d like to ship a package by UPS ground to my son at his college address.”
“Have you shipped with us before?”
Let me take a minute to tell you that his question always baffles me. I have been shipping with this particular UPS store, run by this same guy for five years. In that time I have sent birthday and Christmas presents to our family in Virginia and since Christian went away to school last year, I have been a patron at least once, if not twice, a month. I felt like screaming at this guy. LOOK AT ME YOU IDIOT! DON’T PRETEND YOU DON’T RECOGNIZE ME!
“Yes, I’m in the computer,” is what I replied instead. Then, without waiting to be asked for it, since I know the drill, I gave him my home phone number and name in order for him to access my account information in his database.
“Okay. I’m guessing you want to send this to Christian in South Carolina?” See, I knew he recognized me.
“Yes, but I need to buy a box.”
“Okay. Just step to the side here.”
I complied, thinking I would wait off to the side while he went to the back to grab me a box. You are never going to believe this, but the clerk then looked to the person in line directly behind me and asked, “How can I help you?”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I stood there watching in disbelief as he attended, one by one, to the next three people in line.
“Excuse me, “ I interrupted. “I was here before all of these people. Can you tell me why I am standing here waiting for you to go get me a box, and instead you’re serving all of these people first?”
“Please be patient ma’am. I don’t want the line to get too long, and it’s going to take me a little while to finish up with you. There’s no need to make all these people wait.”
“No, no, no. See I’ve already been patient. I patiently waited for you to finish with the gentleman in front of me who shipped several boxes to different addresses which took quite a bit of time. Now it’s my turn to be waited on and it’s their turn,” pointing over my shoulder to the people behind me, “to be patient. I’m sure they’ll understand because that’s how waiting in line works. First come first serve.” I turned and posed this question to the three remaining people in line, “Am I right?” I got one bashful nod from the person immediately behind me, but the other two just glanced away uncomfortably pretending not to hear me. DOESN”T ANYONE HAVE MANNERS ANYMORE?
“Fine.” He stormed to the back of the store to get me a box.
He came back and motioned for me to hand the suit, shoes, and the rest of what would soon be the contents of the package over the counter to him. I watched him as he began to pack the box.
“Excuse me. I see you’re putting the suit in first, but could you please put the shoebox and the smaller bag with the neckties in first, and then lay the suit on top? Oh and don’t forget the note there and that little bag of beef jerky.”
”It’s better if I put the suit in first and the other stuff on top. It fits better.”
“I know. I can see that, but I’d like you to put everything into the box in the order I described so that when my son opens the box, he’ll be able to take the suit out first and hang it in his closet and then take out the shoes and ties. That will make it easier for him to put everything away.” The clerk stared incredulously, blinking every few seconds. With the look that was plastered on his face, I have to say I was thankful he didn’t know I graduated from Yale because he’d have probably made some sarcastic remark like, “And where did you say you went to college?” Instead he just shook his head and said, “Okay.”