After dropping my daughter off at school I rushed up 140th avenue S.E. and turned on to Petrovitsky road thinking about the tasks I wanted to accomplish for the day. One of the first ones I needed to complete was mailing an international package. Five-minutes later I pulled in to the post office parking lot on 116th avenue S.E. feeling grateful it didn’t look too full yet. Racing in I am relieved to find only a few people are inside: a couple filling out forms, one female stood in front of me and an elderly gentleman was at the counter. Only one counter window was open, but that shouldn’t be a problem with so few people. Relieved, I began making casual conversation with the woman in front of me without giving anything else another thought.
Through our idle chit-chat we shared a few gentle laughs, and noticed a couple of new people had entered the building. The individuals filling out forms previously had now joined us in line. I could hear conversation coming from the front counter between two people; one was asking several times “why are things taking so long?” Glancing at the wall clock and looking in the direction of the counter, I realized it had been about ten minutes that I had been waiting and wondered how much longer it might be also.
My view was slightly blocked, and I couldn’t see the person responding to the questions from behind the counter, only the elderly gentleman continuously asking questions could be seen clearly. As my gaze turned back to my line, they were met by a look of fear from the lady standing patiently behind me, who mouthed the word “crazy."
Puzzled, I looked back towards the counter and immediately noticed what the issue was. The elderly gentleman standing in line and having an interesting, intelligent conversation which I could now clearly hear had my full attention because I could see no one was there with him. It sounded like two good friends chatting over a good meal. I moved up and leaned toward the counter looking around. Did I overlook someone? The lady behind me had inched closer and was invading my personal space. Looking at a few other people that now stood in line, it appeared others may have felt the same way she did. Several cleared their throat, one pulled her phone out and became engrossed in it, another person allowed their eyes to dart back and forth repeatedly as if sending out a secret warning. Yes, we all saw it.
A couple more minutes passed, and a manager showed up and began talking to this gentleman. I noticed, the moment he appeared the conversation between the elderly gentleman “and his friend” halted. He returned to the reality of the post office, and listened intently, responding appropriately. As the conversation ended the gentleman concluded with a pleasant departing goodbye and began heading out the door. Before he exited, I
heard the conversation commence again with “his friend.”“Glad he’s gone,” the lady behind me proudly exclaimed. I stared at her, and as I took one final glance in his direction I had another thought on my mind.
This man appeared to be in his seventies, which made him about the same age as some of my relatives and friends that I often spend time with. We are all guilty of making assumptions at times about other people, things, and situations. However, in that eye-opening moment I wondered if anyone that saw or heard his conversation might have thought momentarily perhaps there was no craziness involved, but rather an elderly man that may have been lonely who created conversation with someone not there for companionship. Perhaps that was his friend.