Monday, October 8, 2012. I got up at the regular time
(no need for you to know what that is); stumbled across
the hall to my office, and opened up the computer to begin
another fun-filled exciting day of dealing with crashed cars,
mangled people, and all that entails.
About 2:30 the phone quit ringing for a while, so I
thought I’d take the opportunity to run (no, not literally)
over to the post office, mail some correspondence, and pay
that box rent fee that I neglected to pay at the end of last month – ending up with me getting evicted. Happens every time. They give me the notice at the first of the month for rent due at the end. By the time the end of the month gets here, I’ve forgotten about it completely. Thankfully, they always lock me out of the box within a couple of days, and that reminds me that I need to pay the rent. They’re helpful like that.
But, today, the windows are closed off with that sliding barricade, like they have in the mall. Nobody’s there, save a nice Hispanic lady who’s coming in as I’m standing in the air lock, looking for some sign, or something, explaining why they’re shut down. At first, I thought maybe it was still Sunday and I’d just lost track of time. I do that a lot. Then, I wondered if maybe they’d closed up in celebration of my daughter-in-law’s birthday. The lady could tell that I was confused. She said to me, in broken English, “I think it is Columbus Day.”
“Well…yes,” I replied, “That’s important! Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Imagine, if you will, my total shame and humiliation. Here am I – a natural-born, 100% red-blooded American man, and I had forgotten this most holy of holidays! Worse yet, I had to be reminded by an immigrant. It must be true what they say about them having a better grasp of our blessings than we do ourselves. Oh, the shame!
Now, with only a small portion of the day remaining, what was I to do about celebrating it? My Italian sailor suit had never been picked up from the cleaners after last year’s blow-out celebration. There were no ingredients in the house to prepare our traditional Columbus Day meal of pepperoni lasagna and that dark oily sauce that nobody knows the name of, to dip the bread in. Not a single bottle of Limoncello to be found. And the giant blow-up Santa Maria yard ornament was still buried up there in the attic, under all the Canadian Boxing Day stuff. I’d never get to it in time. I could rush off to Wal-Mart to buy the Nina and Pinta to complete the set (about time!), but what would be the use? This late, I was sure, they would be completely sold out.
In my mind’s eye, I could see those post office employees – the ones who weren’t there to unlock my box – gathered with their families, wearing their funny hats, drinking Amaretto and eating pizza, singing “Albachiara” (I guess), giving thanks that the world didn’t turn out to be flat, and telling tales of the sea. Pinching each other’s bottoms – all in good fun. But, not me. No! I am a pagan whose only thoughts on this special day involved getting my work done. My precious work.
I can see it all clearly now. At the end of our lives, none of us look back and say “I wish I would have spent more time at work.” But there will be those of us who do look back, regretfully, and proclaim that, if we had it all to do over again, we would have spent more Columbus Days in joyous celebration, like our brothers and sisters in the US Postal Service. I know that now. I won’t be caught off guard this time next year.
Sail on, my friends. Sail on!
© 2012, Rick Baber