8/25/2003

how about intelligent life on earth?

I can’t cope.

I just got back from a trip to the post office on Center Street. People are nuts. I was locking my bike up in front of the ice cream shop next to the post office and there were two middle-aged adults sitting at a table chatting while their two two-and-a-half or three year old kids had found a stash of little stones (larger than pebbles, smaller than rocks, let’s say) and were gathering up handfuls and throwing them against a wall. They would dash against the wall and then ricochet off in every direction.

I watched while they did this over and over again, in plain view of their parents (the parents were friends and the kids were playmates, by the looks of it), who were chatting merrily away at the table.

The thing that floored me was: not only were the children clearly—clearly—making a nuisance of themselves, they were also endangering themselves and others in the process. It was one of those things that’s sort of the minimum responsibility of parents to deal with. I mean, everybody knows you’re not supposed to throw stones. That’s one of those things—the very first things—parents are supposed to tell you, to admonish you for when you’re little.

I walked into the post office, and there was a long line of people waiting. I had this cover letter and résumé I was sending to the Museum of Fine Arts. I had phoned the museum earlier to try and figure out who to address the letter to, since I didn’t want to write ‘Dear Sir/Madam,’ or ‘To Whom it May Concern,’ which everybody knows is the last line they’ll read. But I got HR and they were most unhelpful, as HR always is. The guy was like, ‘most people just address it “To Whom it May Concern.”’ I was like, well, that’s my point, you jumped-up little cunt, most people don’t get the job, do they? But lacking a better method of getting the information I just addressed the cover letter ‘To Whom it May Concern,’ and had done with it. I mean, fuck it, fuck them, fuck everything. Waste of time.

So there I was in line for, like, twenty minutes, trying to think of a way to ask for a first-class stamp so as not to piss off the clerk. Because if they can, they always want to just punch in the first-class code on their little computer and print out a bar-code sticker for it, or rubber-stamp it, and I wanted the personal touch of an actual stamp, something nice, something sort of artistic, I mean without being pretentious. But if they have to open up that drawer with the big book of stamps in it, they get all huffy.

Well, I got up there and asked him for a stamp, and you could feel him tense up. He opened the drawer, opened the book, and without showing me any of the first class stamps available to me, he ripped one out that had ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY!’ emblazoned on it in big, ugly bubble-letters, and slapped it on the envelope. He could clearly see it was not a personal letter. It was in a legal envelope, not one of those big, stupid birthday card envelopes. The address was typed on the envelope. There was no name, it clearly read ‘Human Resources Department,’ so that it was perfectly obvious it wasn’t to anyone in particular, much less for someone’s birthday.

It was one of those teeny, tiny acts of spite that you just can’t do anything about without coming off as even more petty and spiteful yourself. And they’re betting you won’t.

And of course, I didn’t. I’ve got no hope whatsoever of getting this job anyway, so I just let it go.

As I was unchaining my bike I noticed the couple with the kids were on their way out. The corner of the terrace of the ice cream place was a shambolic mess, with all those little stones the children had thrown left lying where they fell, all over the place, for someone else to clean up. Truly despicable people. By all appearances, fine, respectable upper middle class, middle-aged parents and tax-paying citizens of the commonwealth. And truly and utterly despicable.

As I passed them on the sidewalk I wanted to point out the mess their children had made, and they had left for someone else to pick up. But people like that get hostile. They have a sense of entitlement. They get awfully offended when you point out how offensive they are. And what right do I have? So I peddled off home as fast as I could to get away from them. From all of them.

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