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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Going Postal

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It is a beginning of term tradition at Carleton that the post office is a sight to behold. A simple case of a high influx of packages combined with a small space to work in creates a bottleneck which takes on a life all of its own. Tales of minutes, hours, and possibly afternoons spent in line for a package are part of the infamy of the Carleton Experience, akin to waiting for a Rottblat t-shirt or complaining about the food. This reporter was on hand, or at least passing through the post office space, to see it for himself. By 10 A.M. on Monday, a lengthy queue soon formed in front of the desk. By Carleton standards it is a high quality queue- it snakes and spirals around the bins and along the mailboxes. It leaves enough room to access the ATM and the bizarre vending machine that sells ‘essential’ items instead of snacks. Some students try desperately to weave through it with their heavy winter clothing, often blocked by the sheer number of people.

Many students come summoned by an email from the post office, enticed by the mystery and excitement of the god of packages, [email protected]. Even though we often know what it is, there is still a feeling of hope. What is it? Is it a gift, a late care package for finals? Mittens? More often than not it is a large box of textbooks, whose contents free us from the monopolistic high prices of Barnes and Noble and their faux college bookshop. Whatever that package is, we cannot leave them with the post office, out of reach, so they wait, they wait ever so patiently for the first week crush. For the post office workers, it is a trying day. There is an onrush of packages, heavy book boxes to sort out. There is weeks of backlogged mail, correspondence, bills, cards from distant relatives, and brochures that leave out your first name and misspell your last name. All of this is shoved into those small post boxes with, rolled up 10 or 15 page final papers with comments in handwriting as indecipherable as the cloud of stress and sleep depravity in which they were written.

Yet, to this reporter’s shock, first week post office was not a scene of real chaos or stress. The lines where long but never reached the proportions one sees during air travel or even the 12:50 A.M. Sayles crush. The quality queue described earlier was one of discipline and patience. It acquired a unique sociological moment. Students utilised it as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and fellow students. When asked about the alleged prayer session to the god of postage (which may or may not be an elaborate conjecture of this reporter) a confused look was given.

It was hectic, but not chaotic. The lack of chaos meant the post office workers methodically worked through the backlog and the excess volume to sort through the mountain of packages.

To my shock, I had to wait in line on the 1st week for a package and it was far from the monstrous and gruelling experience I envisioned. We wait in line all the time; it’s a fact of life. Yet if it weren’t for those hard working people behind the counter, it would be even more tedious.

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