5:15 p.m. : P starts to haul boxes down from her third floor apartment. It is 92 degrees F with 60% humidity. Her hair is turning frizzy and the boxes slip and slide in her damp hands. [Laugh track]
5:30: In the midst of hauling down box no. 8, she hears the phone ring. She staggers [Laugh track] and hurriedly puts down the box of kitchen equipment and runs back up to the apartment. It’s her friend [F], who is here to help her by ferrying the boxes to the post office and by taking some of her pantry goods. They groan as they heft 9 boxes into the car. P’s hair has reached 80s’ proportions. [Laugh track]
5:45: They go the wrong way and find themselves doing a detour. [Laugh track] At the downtown post office, they attempt to enter two separate parking lots but both are reserved for employees. One happens to be at the bottom of an incline with one lane and at right angles to a busy street. They cautiously back up. [Laugh track]
6:02: They park on the street and are comically delighted that parking is free after 6. Score! They walk inside the building, which is cavernous. P explains that they need a cart or dolly as they have large packages. One of the postal workers wheels out a shopping cart that’s been souped up with an industrial-size laundry bag. They wheel it down the accessible ramp, attempting to keep it straight as one front wheel spins madly and pulls to the right. [Laugh track] They unload 6 boxes (through the rear door that happens to be on the side of the traffic and bike path) and drag the cart back in. Postal worker says that if the packages weigh more than 15 lbs, they cannot accept them; they must go to UPS. P’s face is a mix of tears and murderousness. Worker loses blank face and says, “just kidding!” [Laugh track] P grimaces, hauls first box onto counter. Worker refuses to accept, says all alcohol boxes must be completely covered over with paper—sharpie is not enough. P and F look dismayed. [Laugh track] P asks if she can buy wrapping paper and tape from him. No. They don’t sell any paper. And they don’t sell anything but clear tape. He recommends that they find some brown grocery bags and tape all the boxes with them. F thinks they could go to a store that sells black tape or find a grocery store and get paper bags. Then it turns out that two of the boxes aren’t from the liquor store. The worker is willing to accept those but asks about return address. P explains that she won’t be at that address come Monday so she didn’t write one. He shrugs, says they won’t go by plane and cannot be insured or have delivery confirmation. P. shrugs resignedly.
6:30: They drag cart back to the car and reload the remaining boxes into it. Wheel empty, manic cart back into the building.
6:45: At P’s apartment, they find brown paper sacks that F cuts up. Then P notices a pile of heavy card stock résumé paper that she intended to recycle or donate. Hurray! They tape a box, then P suggests that they take all of the paper, an industrial 3M tape dispenser, and four more boxes and do all the taping at the post office since it closes at 8:00. Then F asks if P would also like to do a Goodwill run and P answers in the affirmative so F suggests P look up the hours. P wanders around apartment with laptop looking for a wi-fi signal. Finds it in the bedroom and stands with the laptop resting in one uplifted hand while she types with the other. [Laugh track] The Goodwill closes at 8 so it seems feasible that they could do that errand as well. P grabs a small bag with donation items. They hop back into the car and return to the post office.
7:00: P goes in for the cart, which is right where she left it. She rolls it out, they pile it with everything, and repeat their bag lady act. They pile the boxes onto one of the work spaces and start taping. The industrial tape dispenser rapidly becomes their arch nemesis. It refuses to release the tape, then refuses to sever the tape, then spits out the tape in a Rapunzel-like stream. The adhesive side of the out-of-control tape sticks to the dispenser, the work table, the paper lying on the side, the handle of their scissors—pretty much everywhere. At one point, P inadvertently waxes her forearm. [Sustained laugh track]
7:45: Postal worker comes out to ask if they’re done yet. They look at him with a combination of hatred and sorrow since they have six boxes to go. He suggests they bring him any boxes that are done and any that are not liquor store castoffs. P does that as F continues to battle the dispenser. She tells him that the boxes are media mail. He asks what’s in them. Books, she says, and papers. What sort of papers? She shrugs, papers papers. They stare at each other as if at the OK corral. He says that loose-leaf papers cannot be considered media mail—only books, DVDs, VHS tapes. VHS tapes! P rolls her eyes but he is unimpressed. [Laugh track]. She draws down and says ok [in small caps]. They agree on parcel post and she pays for two more boxes.
7:50: P and F continue to wrap brown paper and résumé paper around more boxes. They have abandoned the dispenser and are cutting the tape with scissors. As the service windows start to be shut and more people stream in with last-minute mailings, P and F try to work faster and end up making more of a mess, partly exacerbated by the fact that they are both less than 5 feet tall and the boxes on the work space tower over them.
7:55: Another worker comes to see how they’re doing and grabs the dispenser and starts taping the boxes himself. It is perfectly docile and cooperative in his grip. P fumes and F consoles her by saying it was clearly meant for larger male hands. P grumbles about sexist design. [Laugh track] P grabs two more boxes and runs them to the counter. Pays for them and runs back to F and the remaining pile of boxes. As soon as the last one is done, they take them to the last open window. The worker weighs them and P pays.
P and F walk out into the summer evening. F asks, “Tacos and horchatas?” P hems and haws about the leftovers she needs to finish, then admits, “You had me at horchatas!” [Laugh track] They drive off into the sunset.
13 boxes sent off into the great beyond. Will P see them again?