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Sunday, May 4, 2014


I was reminded at the beginning of the week, by Lesley, one of my friends that I have known the longest, (rather than saying 'one of my oldest friends',) that it was 49 years ago, when the summer term began at Uxendon Manor, a primary school in Kenton, a town in England, just outside London, that we started 'big' school.  I do remember details from that day, a new chapter, and new beginning, for my life, and meeting other people who were to become (to date) life long friends. Michele, Karen, Carolene, and Ian, to name but a few.  I wonder where the time has gone! 

The circle of life goes on, and there have been many 'new beginnings', some wondrous and some not so pleasant.  For someone who does not like change, moving the office was a 'new beginning' that was put into the latter category.  Having been at the new office for only a week, before taking time off to entertain guests and prepare for the extravaganza of the year, when I did finally return, full time, it was if I was having to start over.

My first major obstacle was to become known as a regular at the post office.  The staff, although very pleasant, were not accustom to my usual mailing items, and a level of trust had to be acquired.  Once a regular it is sometimes possible to put a correctly stamped, overweight package on the counter, and shout across, 'can I leave this?'  (Overweight packages are subject to questions regarding content) Most of the staff at the previous office were aware that my items contained 'only paper', and good old fashioned trust was applied!  After three days of having to take something to the counter, speaking in my best English accent, I thought I was finally at a stage where I would be recognised.  On day four, I had calculated the postage, calculated my time away from the office, and calculated the probable best time to arrive so as to avoid the rush hours. Unfortunately, I had not calculated the unknown factor into my equation!  'Unusually busy this morning', was heard by all who were both in front of, and behind the counter.  All except two commented on the amount of traffic that had come into the facility.  One of the two, was me.  I had not been visiting for long enough to know, for certain, if any one morning was busier than another.  The other person who was silent was the new girl; the trainee.  In a perfect world, we would not have been paired!  In a perfect world the trainee's trainer would not have been occupied with the man who was attempting to use a defunct credit card to pay for the twenty nine parcels, each individually weighed, and each individually stamped.  In a perfect world, the other 'long term' employee would not have been occupied with the woman who was trying to blame the entire United States Postal Service with the disappearance of a package that she sent via an overnight service not affiliated with the Post Office.  'One of those days', took on a whole new meaning for the people who were not yet at the counter!  As the trainee's trainer attempted to pick off stickers from each of the twenty nine parcels, after voiding the transaction, the trainee looked eagerly towards her customer for help.  We had already established that I was not from around these parts, but there was a sense that I may have some notion of how the system, by whom she was employed, may be more familiar to a foreigner.  It was a rare opportunity to display my knowledge, in the hope that I would be considered a viable contender for the 'can I leave this?' brigade.  Before too long, I had walked the trainee through the process of a letter being sent by 'certified mail', and explained the difference, and reasoning behind one requiring the signature of the individual recipient, and one not.  By the end of the lesson, the trainer, who had dismissed the defunct credit card holder, telling him that he could not hold up the queue while his line manager drove from the other side of town with a (hopefully) valid cheque, was nodding and 'uh-huh'ing', in my direction.  Our eyes met, and the unspoken words, 'remember me', appeared to be heard loud and clear. I knew I had become one of the preferred when she leaned over the counter, pointed to the woman who was still attempting to lay every lost package that ever existed from the inauguration of daily post to date, at the hands of the poor postal employee, and whispered, 'She should sent it with us, not Federal Express.  We are cheaper, and better'.  She then made a few comments about the complainer, which I believe were only meant for my ears.  I tried to talk again, with my eyes, but failed miserably, as I found it hard not to laugh.  When attempting to talk privately, and putting a hand to the side of your mouth, to prevent the sound from travelling past the barrier, it is always preferable to place the hand to the side you do not want the sound to travel past.  The people to the right, did not hear a thing. Unfortunately, the complainer was to her left, and the words hit the side of her hand, placed to the right of her lips, and ricocheted directly across the counter.  The large captive audience, in front of the counter, held their breath.  Fortunately, the complainer did not.  I do not think she stopped for a breath the whole time she was berating the post office employee. 

Having conquered one obstacle, I felt slightly more empowered in my new home.  There were still aspects of inconvenience that had to be negotiated, but I was attempting to deal with them one at a time.  The landlords permitted us to have Frank in the office, providing he does not prove a nuisance to the other tenants.  As the quadruped barks at anything and everything, including his own shadow, we thought it best not to let him have access to the front door, and Samantha bought a child-gate to put between the reception area, and the rest of the office.  In a perfect world, my desk would not be in the reception area!  In a perfect world, I would not be clasp-challenged, and able to pull back the clip and open the gate as everyone else manages to do.  Climbing over the gate is not too hard when I am wearing a pair of trousers, but the weather has dictated summer attire!  Although I can shout from my desk and be heard by Samantha, my voice does not carry around the corner into Dana's office; at least not legibly!  Obstacle number two was the bright idea of my husband.  Walkie Talkies.  In a generation where mobile phones can turn the lights on in your house, while you are still in your car, and be used to access home security cameras, in order for my husband and I to communicate in our office, all modern technology is abandoned, and we use walkie talkies!  Whilst it may sound like fun, first thing in the morning, listening to over an hour of extracts from the song, Convoy, it had become a little less than amusing!  I cannot remember exactly how many Smokies were surrounding the rig, nor how many bears were actually in the air, but I was ready to crash the gate, doing somewhat more than 98, and ready to let something roll at 10.4! 

By the end of the week, and announcing, 'I want to go home to 6th Street', several times a day, I was starting to come to terms with my new surroundings, and realised the niggles as mere teething problems which are akin to all new beginnings.  The end of the week was a pleasant thought, and whilst I do not want to 'wish my life away' (49 years seem to have gone in a flash!) the weekend could not come quickly enough.  We set out early and went to visit Joe.  The parking spaces outside the roastery had been taped off, and it was explained that a funeral was to take place in the 'church' which holds its services in the corner unit in the same strip center.  Shortly after we arrived, the minister from said church entered dressed in a t-shirt and jeans.  He was accompanied by another man who was donned in a suit.  After introducing the man in the suit as the 'bereaved', due to the loss of his brother, we weighed up the situation and sensed that it was not inappropriate to tease the minister about his attire, suggesting it would be in accordance with common practice to 'dress for the occasion'.  The atmosphere became less tense, and the 'bereaved' gentleman appeared to be somewhat relieved at the lighter hearted conversation.  All too soon, it was time for us to leave, and we bid farewell to everyone.  In a perfect world, I would not have told everyone, including the man who had recently lost his brother, to, 'Have a wonderful day'.  In a perfect world, having realised my faux pas, I would not have followed up with, 'and have a fabulous weekend, whatever you all decide to do!', but as mentioned, I do not live in a perfect world.  Nor, would it appear do those with whom I come into contact! 

The good weather brought forth a Mary Poppins weekend (practically perfect).  New beginnings can mean nice things too!  I ventured down to the pool, and was wished a 'happy new year' by my German neighbour, whom I have not seen since 'last season', and I had my first swim of the year, despite the water being less than perfect!  In a perfect world, I would enjoy my swim, and go out to eat at my favourite Mexican restaurant with my Mary Poppins husband.  I suppose, on occasion, my world is perfect after all!  I lapped up my Chiles Rellenos and came home to a house without a puppy, and watched an English television production with a nice cup of tea and a piece of extra dark chocolate.

Naturally, not all 'new beginnings', will have the same challenging aspect as starting school, or moving office location. (Yes, I do put them in the same stress category!)  My impending 'grandmotherhood' is a 'new beginning' that I relish, despite being so far away.  I trust that new age technology will allow me to communicate with the little one on a more personal level than an intermittent Polaroid picture being delivered by post every so often (and everyone who visits my local post office was loudly informed that mail, by any carrier, cannot be trusted!) Being a mother-in-law, twice over, is a new beginning that is a great enjoyment, especially when I view the joy of my kids!  My own idiosyncrasies are indeed mine, and not all view 'perfection' in the same light.  After all, I know that I am not a perfectionist, however, my parents were! (Think about it!)

Next week things will, no doubt, be even more settled.  I will come to some arrangement with the child-gate, and the post office will no doubt come to terms with me!  I shall graciously use the walkie-talkie without sarcasm, and start to enjoy my new surroundings.  Of course, all this does not mean that my life will be without cause for
............ another story!

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