I’m back from 3 days of hard, but satisfying work in St. Petersburg. The house remodel is basically done and it’s beyond all my hopes and expectations. This is the once in a lifetime project that’s as close as I’ll ever get (or want to get) to designing my own home and my builder was the absolute best, working cooperatively with me over distance. In the end, my first call in the morning would be, "Morning, dear. The kitchen hardware came but we’re shy one pull" or "There’s a package here from eBay that is rattling ominously- I’ll wait until you get here to open that one." Anyway, it’s pretty much done and the rest will have to wait until we head down after Christmas. By then, I’ll have plenty to show you on that front.
Today I want to complain. First, what the heck is the matter with people with colds and respiratory infections? I mean, I know ’tis the season, but c’mon people! Weren’t you taught to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze? Yesterday, I was at the airport and it sounded more like a TB ward. Of course, they were all on my flight. It’s as though the ticket agent announced: "We are now boarding flight 666 for St. Anthony’s Sanatorium, continuing on to Forest Lawn Cemetery. We’d like to invite our Platinum members and those with death rales first. Please remember to place all kleenex, handkerchiefs and cough drops in the overhead bin so you have absolutely no access to them during the flight."
Once we were onboard and buckled, the pilot announced, "We’ll have a flying time today of 2 hours and 20 minutes but first we’re going to roll this petri dish down the runway and get in line for takeoff and that could take about 25 minutes." In those twenty-five minutes the woman seated next to me sneezed like a baby. By that I mean, when Abby was an infant she’d get one of those newborn tickles in her nose and sneeze so many times in a row that we would laugh and start to count them. I think she made it up to eight or nine once. This woman got to 14 and hers weren’t those cute baby sneezes- these were wet, mucousy, snot spray sneezes. Did she cover her mouth? No. Not once. She held on to both armrests with those germ infested paws of hers and just let ’em rip.
Shortly after the man behind me started coughing so explosively my seat was bouncing forward. WITHOUT COVERING HIS MOUTH. And before we were airborne every second seat had someone snorting, sneezing, choking, coughing and wiping runny noses on their hands. And the amazing thing was they all seemed completely oblivious to germ theory- you know, the one where you spread disease by wiping the contents of your infected mucous membranes all over the place? Where you infect others by spraying wet droplets at high velocity on the nearest bystander?
By the time the wheels touched down I was twitching like that character Monk trapped in an elevator. I imagined myself standing up and screaming, "Stop that! Stop spraying that shit around this plane! For God’s sake, cover your mouth! Stop wiping your nose on the airplane blanket! Who fetched you up, anyway? If you could please, please, just sit quietly and stop breathing until we reach the gate!" Instead, I just twitched and muttered to myself about getting sick for Christmas, I just know it, I can feel their airborne droplets working their way into my lungs…
As an alternative, I tried to stop breathing, but naturally we had to wait to get into our gate and after you don’t breathe for a minute or so you have to take a bigger breath just to compensate. As we were deplaning I heard one other passenger exclaim "let me off this cesspool of germs, please!"
The taxi driver was coughing the whole distance between O’Hare and our place. I walked in the door, relieved to be home and Rich came racing down the stairs to embrace me- and sniffle in my ear, "I’b so sick! I hab a terrible cold!"
Here’s the other thing: Since when did mail delivery in a major U.S. city become optional? When did postal employees get to decide whether today was a good day to grace your mail slot with your bills, cards, letters and bank statements?
I don’t understand this. In Michigan, mail came every day. I mean, there might be the occasional day when no one sent you anything but in recent years there were ALWAYS at least some catalogs and several pre-approved credit cards that I sort of wished he/she wouldn’t deliver. But six days a week, the USPS showed up with mail. When I was a child, people sent so many Christmas cards that sometimes the mailman brought mail twice a day. That was exciting.
Here in Chicago, days go past- no mail. Nothing. Nadda. And then, on say, maybe Wednesday there’s so much mail he can’t get it through the large mail slot and he flings it around the walkway where I pick it up from snow, puddles, against the garden gate. For a time I thought maybe it was our mailman. I though maybe he’s emotionally disturbed and his job and sanity were hanging by a thread and I need to be nice to him. So I started watching for him and every third day or so, when I saw him coming down the walk I’d jump to the door, open it with a big smile plastered on my face and say, "Hey! Thanks! How’s it going?" And normal as pie, he would say, "Good, thanks. Have a nice day." And hand me 4 days worth of mail.
Sometimes, people tell me they have sent me something and then weeks go by. Weeks, not days. We get mail that was postmarked 17 days ago. This is true.
Finally, I called the main post office. This is not easy because in Chicago they don’t publish the telephone numbers of the post office, for obvious reason. It’s like trying to look up the main information number for the CIA. As a last resort, I called my alderman and got a number of an assistant to an assistant postmaster. In this case, it was a postmistress and I gave her my address, twice, and she listened to me complain that we weren’t getting important mail- things like house titles and insurance binders. She said uh-huh, uh-huh,uh-huh and that she would look into it. I knew that was going to be effective when the call ended with her asking, "Whaddya say your address was?"
I asked around as I got to know people and everyone just laughs. Apparently, mail delivery in Chicago IS optional. We still don’t get mail except as people win at the roulette table. It’s as random as the weather. You know- like rain or snow or sleet. So here’s something else optional this year: That nice little goodie basket of cookies, fine chocolates and maple syrup I always put out for my mail person on December 24. The alley rats would haul it off days before he ever finds it.
Okay. I am done complaining. I’m going to boost my immune system with echinacea, orange juice and a fair amount of red wine over the next 48 hours. And finish getting my cards and packages out in the, ahem, mail.
Tomorrow, I’ll be up for Friday’s Ark- with murder and mayhem in the night time as well as a bug challenge for all my southern neighbors.