Sal works today. She’s doing relief at the post office. It’s foggy. She can barely see 100 feet head. She and her little boat will disappear into the mist almost the instant I glimpse her leaving. It is January on the west coast.
We’ll remain in radio contact for another five minutes but she can’t hear it above the sound of the outboard. The radio is only really useful if she is stopped. And we are hoping that is precisely what does NOT happen.
When she gets to the no-electricity, floating post office, her first chore will be to fire up the wood stove. She’ll get a crackling fire going within a few minutes. But it will still be bleak. It will still be lonely. And, for the most part, it will be pointless. But she’ll take Meg. They’ll keep each other company.
Meg is never too thrilled about these days. She thinks it pointless, too.
The mail plane is not likely to fly today. And we don’t, as a community, usually have a lot to put in the mail – which would not be going out anyway – ’cause there is no plane. If it is a busy day, Sal will see a few neighbours as they come to check their post office box and maybe, just maybe they will buy a few stamps. Prob’ly not.
The pay is minimal and, of course, there are no benefits. She doesn’t even have basic amenities such as a computer, phone or lights. But Sal likes to do it anyway so that she can ‘be part’ of the community, see people she wouldn’t ordinarily see and just ‘do her bit’ to help out the post mistress. It’s all very normal. Healthy, in an unusual way. And irregular enough that she enjoys it.
It’s also a change from working with me.
She got the job a few years ago when the ‘old’ post mistress was still here. Before that woman ran off with a hitchhiker at the age of 50-something. (Love is grand, eh? Romance at 50+ while living remote and isolated………that has to give hope to everyone, eh?)
The hardest part is the safe. Hard to open. Apparently it is the combination from Hell. But Sal can do it. She has some weird kind of job security as a result.
It is not undeserved. Sal also takes the postman’s creed about getting through snow and sleet (or fog) to make her rounds or whatever quite seriously. She’s a great employee. I’d call her ‘intrepid’ in her execution of her duties. Well, ‘cept for one thing……..she won’t take a job if they think she is an employee. She’s done with being an employee. This job is helping a friend and community work ‘cause she won’t work for such wretched employers as the post office.
“Aaaahhhhh, but Sal, you are, in fact, working for the post office.”
“No, I am not. I am working for R. I am working for R ‘cause she needs me to stand in for her. I am not working for the post office even tho I work at the post office and I do the post office work. And, OK. I do it their way. But that part means nothing. I am working for R and the people who come in to get their mail.”
Perspective and attitude are everything, don’t you think?