People. You Gotta Love ’em.

On a recent trip to the post office I witnessed the following exchange take place between a clerk and a customer. I’ve recreated the dialogue to the best of my memory, but the nature of the exchange is accurate.

A lady walks up to the counter and says, “I’m trying to locate a lost package.”

“Do you have a tracking number?” the clerk asks.


“Okay then, are you the sender or receiver?”

“Neither. The package never arrived.”

“I understand, but did you send the package or were you supposed to receive the package?”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, I never received the package.”

“So someone else was supposed to send it to you?”


“And who was that?”

“I assume it was you.”


“Well, the post office.”

“I meant, who originally sent the package?”

“I just told you. The post office.”

“Did someone from our station contact you about this?”

“No, that’s why I’m here. I’m contacting you.”

“Why do you think it came from us?”

“Where else would it come from?”

“It could have come from anywhere,” he said.

“But all mail comes through the post office.”

“Yes, but we just deliver it. We don’t send it.”

“I don’t understand. That’s all you do is send mail. Who else would have done it?”

The clerk looks around as if he’s looking for a hidden camera.

“Mam, we don’t send mail. We just deliver mail that other people send you. If you can tell me who sent this package I might be able to help.”

“I told you, I don’t know who sent the package.”

“Then how do you know a package is even missing?”

“My sister told me to expect one and it never arrived.”

“So your sister sent it to you?”

The lady pauses for a moment.

“I’m not sure. Is there any way you can check that?”

“Check what?”

“If my sister actually sent it.”

“Not on this end. Maybe you can call her and see if she has a tracking number. Otherwise, there’s really nothing I can do.”

“Why should I have to do your job? Just look up the number in your system.”

The clerk takes a deep breath. He says, “Let me see if I can get someone else to help you.” Then he leaves the lobby.

The woman turns to the customer next to her, shakes her head and says, I kid you not, “What an idiot.”

And some people wonder why I’m so fascinated with human behavior.

Originally published October 4, 2005

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I’d forgotten all about this incident until I dug this post out of my archives. I remember being asked if it was a true story back when I first posted it. Yes. It’s a true story. Polished up and compressed a bit, but it really happened.

I saw the lady a few times after this, even held the door open for her once, but she was never quite as interesting as she was this day at the Post Office. I guess idiots are like other forms entertainment; they’re always best the first time around.

Photo credit: photogramma1 / / CC BY-SA