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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Post Office & Other Hassles

Last week I wanted to mail a book to a friend and send a card to another friend’s mother, and since the FedEx center doesn’t carry stamps, that meant a trip to the local US Post Office. Passing through the doors of my small town post office is like walking through a time-space portal. My ability to communicate becomes grossly distorted and time slows to an excruciating pace. I avoid it if at all possible. (Can I say I think I prefer my yearly mammogram to my annual post office trip? At least a mammogram is quick and painful rather than drawn out agony.)
Despite my desire to be in and out as quickly as possible, I decided to take a little extra time to gather supplies I'll need to mail out books for giveaways, which will be here before I know it.
There was one guy in the lobby when I entered, and he was done in under a minute. It looked like I might meet my goal of a quick in-and-out. Wrong! I had failed to notice the invisible line that had formed before my arrival. I took my place and waited. And waited some more. Fortunately, the woman at the window finished her inspection of her shoes before I sprouted any more gray hairs, and it was my turn.
I told her I needed to mail single copies of paperback books. (Ask me why. Ask me why. Nothing? Really? You're not even the least bit curious? Sigh.) I explained that I wanted to have supplies on hand so I could avoid another awkward postal encounter such as this one. (Just kidding. I didn’t really say that part aloud.) Here’s how our conversation went...
Me: Do you have any boxes that are prepaid that I can drop in the mail to save me a trip to the post office?
Lady: We don't have boxes.
Me (pointing to the wall): What about those boxes?
Lady (slowly turning head): Yeah. That box is $5.25.
Me: So I can purchase that box and it won’t require any more postage?
Lady: If it’s under 13 ounces.
Me: If it’s under 13 ounces, I can just drop it in the mail without coming into the post office?
Lady: You still have to come to the post office.
Me: Why?
Lady: If it’s more than 13 ounces, you can’t use that box.
Me: But if it is under 13 ounces, I don’t have to come in, right?
Lady: You still have to come in if it's over 13 ounces.
Me: I really don't know how much 13 ounces would be. How much does a paperback weigh?
Lady (blank stare)
You know, a small paperback that will easily fit in that box?
Lady (more blank staring with minimal blinking)
Me (holding out the MUCH bigger book I’m mailing):
Well, how much does this weigh?
Lady (placing it on the scale): Thirteen and a half ounces.
Me: Oh, good! Those boxes should work fine.
Lady: You'll still have to come in to see if it's over 13 ounces.
Me (Loudly screaming in my head): Never mind.

I’m sure there’s an easier way, and I will figure it out or just go to FedEx. But it made me think about how difficult it must have been to get letters where they needed to go during the early 1800s. Perhaps the Duke of Danby will share his tips with me. After all, he summoned all of his grandchildren to Yorkshire for Christmas when they were spread here and there, and I can’t even get a straight answer from the lady at the post office.

Well, however he managed it, he did it! And what a great start to the Regency Christmas Summons Anthology, a collection of interconnected stories about the matchmaking duke and how each grandchild finds love. The books are like four boxes of yummy truffles. You can eat just one at a time for a satisfying experience, but really, who can stop with just one piece of chocolate? You can find my story, Twice Upon a Time, along with Jerrica Knight-Catania's and Lilia Birney's in A Summons from the Duke.

Julian Beckford, grandson to Duke of Danby, is up to his top-boots in one of his cousin's mad schemes only days after his return to England. Baron Penlow wants to engage an actress to play his wife over the holidays at Danby Castle, and he has asked for Julian's assistance in casting the role. Here's a sneak peek at their evening...

Julian nodded. “She’s the one.”
It had dawned on him too late that it mattered very little which woman he recommended to Pen since Julian had every intention of talking his cousin out of his plans on the morrow. He could have ended this nonsense hours ago.
“Are you certain?” Pen asked.
“Yes. Now I’ve done my part, and I’m growing impatient with this clandestine operation. I’m ready to play faro.”
Pen rapped sharply on the roof and opened the window.
One of his servants moved into the woman’s path before she reached the end of the alley. “Pardon me, miss. Lord Penlow would like a word.”
She froze like a rabbit, poised to dash away. “Step away from me, sir.” She readjusted her grip on the bag. The poor dear was probably frightened out of her wits, being accosted the minute she exited the alley, and who could blame her?
“Make it quick,” Pen called out. “We have somewhere to be.”
When the footman turned his head towards Pen’s voice, she took advantage of the distraction and tried to bolt around him.
“Stop her!” Pen scrambled from his seat and threw open the door. “Stop her now!”
His servant lunged to grab the woman, hugging his arms around hers and knocking her bag from her hand. It hit the ground with a thud.
“My bag!” Her panicked voice echoed off the building.
“Quiet her,” Pen said. “Put her in the carriage.”
The servant clamped a hand over her mouth before she let loose a scream and lifted her off her feet. She kicked and wriggled until he almost lost his hold. The hood fell away to reveal a cascade of dark hair.
Julian shot out of the carriage. “What are you doing? You said nothing about abduction.”
Her gaze darted towards him, her eyes wide, and her thrashing increased.
“See what you’ve done?” Pen sprang forwards and captured her legs. “Let’s put her in the carriage before someone discovers us.”
Together, Pen and his servant struggled to put her in the Berlin before Pen climbed inside. “Come on, Julian.”
Julian hesitated a moment, then snatched up her bag and clambered into the carriage, closing the door behind him. Pen was sitting on the bench, holding his nose and oddly silent. The girl huddled in a corner, her breaths shallow and rapid. She was as scared as a church mouse. Good Lord, this might take some doing to make everything right.
Julian placed her bag on the floor and reached a hand towards her. “No one is going to hurt you, miss.” As he leaned in, her leg shot out, and her boot struck him in the center of his chest.
“Damnation!” He fell against the door; his side banged against the seat.
She barreled for the exit, trying to climb over him to reach it. Her boot ground into his thigh, and she lost her footing on the slick fabric of his breeches. She dropped like a lead ball, her knee crashing into his groin.
Julian hissed in pain. Pinpricks of light danced in the blackness, clouding his vision. His gut wrenched, wringing every ounce of comfort from him and replacing it with excruciating torture.
He would never trust his judgment again. He’d chosen a wildcat.

So, back to my original topic, sorta... If you had a team of footmen to run errands for you, which one would you be happy to hand over to them?
***Everyone who leaves a comment today with an email address will be entered into the Regency Christmas Summons Prize Extravaganza. We're giving away a Kindle and many more prizes.


  1. Samantha ~ I have to pick just ONE thing I'd turn over? LOL. Seriously, in a past life I must have been a lady of quality because I can't be this spoiled coming from a middle class family. Let's see... I would turn over shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, driving... I really should be one of the Duke of Danby's grandchildren. :) I just want to write and socialize with friends. *sigh* Those were the days.

    Love the excerpt, btw. Twice Upon A Time is such a delightful read!

  2. Ava,

    I could certainly give up a lot more than one thing, too. In fact, I would like to send someone else to the grocery store today! :-)

    Thanks for the compliment on Twice Upon a Time. It was a blast to write, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

  3. DO NOT get me started on the Post Office!! I go everyday and the employees there are the most ineffecient, unorganized, inept, rude bunch of people I have ever dealt with! I'm not surprised that the USPS is not making a profit. Sorry for going "postal" on the postal workers. I wish we had a Duke of Danby who had power to banish all of the postal workers. But if I had a team of footmen, I would definitely use them to go to Walmart for me. Oh and the DMV! That's another set of employees that need better organization & communication skills. Okay, enough ranting. I've got to run to the post office. :(


  4. Nancy,

    Going "postal" on the postal workers! LOL! I'm with you on the DMV. Thank goodness we can renew everything by internet now in our state. Of course no one looks like their license photo any more after 10 years. ;)

    Good luck at the post office. And thanks for stopping by. :)

  5. I would gladly give up cleaning the litter box. LOL. But...since I won't give up my cats, I guess I'm stuck with that one. I'd also give up anything that requires me to go to WalMart.

    I don't mind the Post Office in my town. The workers are pleasant and efficient. It isn't that way everywhere, though, and I've experienced plenty of other Post Offices in which it is not such a lovely experience.

  6. I am the box top Mom at school, and because of that I have to go to the post office. I was surprised at how much postage cost, and the post person said to me. "Are you new to this country?"

    If I had a footman I would give up the post office, grocery shopping, and answering the front door. :) luvlott1981(at)yahoo(dot)com

  7. Okay, first of all, (and you already know this), I LOVED Twice Upon a Time!

    Second of all, I'm cracking up about people wanting to hire someone to go to Walmart for them. We don't have one terribly close to us, so I only get to go about once a month, if that, so it's a treat for me to walk around and gawk at how cheap everything is. LOL!

    What would I hire someone out for? Well, I already have a nanny who watches the little for me AND does my dishes, laundry and tidying of the living room...and sometimes cleans the floors, if Bella sleeps long enough. We also have a maid who cleans every two weeks, because seriously, I'm not that great of a cleaner. I would love love love for someone to just come in and reorganize/redecorate our bedroom and living room...but did you know that when you hire an organizer -- for THOUSANDS of dollars -- you have to BE THERE while they organize your stuff?!?! I'm trying to understand why I would pay for that. LOL!

    Great post, Samantha! Eric and I were LOLing through the dialog. HILARIOUS!

  8. I am so grateful I have an awesome post office!! I mail books all the time and go in there with no problems. (You can mail from home if you put stamps on the envelope/box or purchase the postage online as long as its under 13 ounces. I have done it plenty of times. And if just a book you can use Media Mail which is about $2.50 for a single mmp)
    Sigh, what to turn over? Too many choices! It would have to be the cooking or cleaning...I think I would change my mind daily, lol :)
    Congrats on the new release and your upcoming one! Can't wait for it :)
    tigger_time2 at yahoo dot com

  9. Catherine,

    I'm lucky to already have a footman - uh, I mean HUSBAND - to clean the litter box. I'm not sure how that worked out, but he took on the job when we married, and I love him even more for it. He is also head of dead animal removal, snow shoveling, mouse catching, and garbage.

    Wow! He got the raw end of this deal. Sorry, honey!

  10. Gayle,

    Bless you for being the Box Top mom. Y'all make the rest of us slacker moms look good. :)

    I just got back from the grocery store, and I'm super happy we got cold weather last night. The bags are waiting in the trunk for my son to get home. LOL.

  11. Jerrica,

    What? You have to be there while they organize? Couldn't you just hire someone to stand in for you? ;)

    BTW, I just had an email from my friend saying she started with your story and couldn't put it down. I'm not surprised! It's so funny!

  12. Lisa,

    Thanks for the information. That's very helpful! There is another post office in the town next to ours that is bigger and more efficient.

    I like your way of thinking. A footman to fulfill the whim of the day. :D

    Thanks for stopping by and for the well-wishes!

  13. Go to USPS.com and order boxes the size you need. Then if you know the weight is okay based on what she weighed for you, you can order & print a shipping label with postage. You only have to go inside if it's over a pound that way, I believe. Otherwise drop it in their bin or better yet, schedule a pickup and the carrier will come to you!

  14. Aileen,

    Thank you!!! This is exactly what I needed to know.

  15. CLEANING HOUSE i hate to clean house !!!


  16. Me too, Regina!

    Thanks for stopping by. :-)