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Filed Under , , on August 30th, 2014

Going Postal

By Seth Kabala

I never wanted to go to the post office.

I have vague memories as a child of standing in line to buy stamps, eyeing strangers warily, watching in horror as letters and packages disappeared down the chute, never to be seen again, nothing but the promise (the insane hope, in my opinion at the time) that the people on the other side would do the right thing, getting parcels and packages where they were supposed to go, as opposed to holding bonfires and ritual séances, our paper and cardboard packaging providing the fuel for the fires.

I mean, what the hell is up with those huge-ass P.O. boxes that you never see anyone getting into? The ones that are, suspiciously, the perfect size to store a human head. Just sayin’.

I have never been to prison, never been to jail, outside of researching one for an article (I swear), and I feel I owe my freedom to my negative experience within the post office, for if incarceration is anything like spending time inside a post office, I want no part of it, other than to retrieve checks from my business P.O. box and get the hell out before the tortured souls behind the chute wall reach forth and trap me forever with their other-worldly tentacles.

My kids think differently.

My consulting firm recently moved offices to Davenport, while maintaining a P.O. box in Bettendorf. The difference isn’t untraversable, but it does require a fair amount of planning to make sure I check the the box regularly, convenience of location now missing from the features list. To this end, I have begun checking the box only on Wednesdays and Saturdays–and on Saturdays, we always have a few, or fifty, family errands to run, so the family has been tagging along with me.

Maybe the facade is friendlier. Maybe the tortured souls have taken master classes from Hollywood make-up artists on how to blend into society. Whatever the reason, my kids want to come inside with me while I check the box. Once inside, they parade around like kids in a candy store, and not just any candy store–one where everything is free! An outside observer might guess I’d kept them caged up all week, and the arrival at the post office was their only time of freedom before re-entering the cage. (Side note: I have never caged my children, though the thought crosses my mind every time we go out to eat.)

They prance around like horses in a field, faces awestruck at the assortment of shipping materials, greeting cards, tile floor (yeah, don’t get that one). I see them breathe in smells of paper, glue, tape, and the odor of complacent government employees and irate customers. Finally, they make use of the almost-too-good-to-be-true wastebasket/countertop, wherein which one can deposit paper waste and atop which one can stack packages. I’d have to describe their expressions as mind blown.

But is it the done-up-to-look-like-real-humans tortured souls that have cast a spell on my children? Is it the arrays of colorful cards, boxes and boxes and boxes (always a hit with kids) and the possibilities for construction inherent in such sacred relics that have enchanted their faces? Or is it something else?

Is it being with dad?

That shall be my hypothesis and, working backward from my conclusion and evaluating the evidence, I believe the scientific method has been satisfied; the results, indisputable. After all, I don’t get even close to the same level of enthusiasm displayed when I ask them to take the trash out at home as I get when I ask them to discard of the envelope detritus left over after I open the latest stash from the P.O. box.

Like Olympic athletes being broadcast to a world-wide stage, preening for the audience as much as primed for performance, they approach the swinging door to the receptacle underneath the counter, manipulating their bodies into form, and deliver their routines, each time finding a home for the refuse–but more importantly, finding a connection to work-week dad (rarely confined to Monday – Friday), which is something that is elusive these days.

I, like millions of other people, am a small business owner, so I work ungodly hours. Not the good God with a capital G, but the bad, false idols–the ones who think baby sacrifice and orgies and fat-free ice cream and aspartame and low sodium foods are ok. Not cool. If you’re in the same boat as me, constantly baling water while attempting to negotiate an upgrade to a less leaky model, I applaud you. You are awesome.

But so are your kids, and as difficult as it may be for you to incorporate them into your work-week, you need to do this. They will recognize how difficult it is, and because of this fact, they will love, admire, and respect you all the more.

So I have a question for you: where is your P.O. box located? But, Seth, you say, I work from home and am afraid daylight will ignite my skin, for I’m convinced I am a vampire. Or, but, Seth, I work in a high-rise office building, and we don’t have a P.O box. Or, but, Seth, I cherish my time away from the kids. Why would I want to taint that?

To the first, you obviously need help with a lot more than the issues raised in this column, so go find a shrink. The second, you’ve obviously missed the metaphorical nature of the P.O. box, so go back to the beginning of the column, re-read, and pay attention. The third, you’re a dick. However much you may cherish your time away from your kids, I guarantee they hate it equally as much, if not more so. Probably more so.

So find your P.O. box in whatever form it may appear. If it’s far away, keep it.

You may have to juke past your own version of tortured souls.

But the waste receptacle competitions will be epic.





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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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