An April Fool’s Day story

April 1, 2017


I made a fool of myself this morning at the main Post Office in Berkeley. Appropriately enough on April Fools Day.

It all started about a year ago when I started to have all sorts of problems with that post office. They were constantly putting other people’s mail in my P.O. box. And God only knows how much of my mail they were misplacing. Several people sent me packages that never got to me. And my sister (who lives in Berkeley) sent me a birthday card that didn’t get to my box until 2 months after my birthday.  Stuff like that.

Which is weird. Because before this, I had always had tremendous respect for the Post Office.  I used to do a tremendous amount of business with the Post Office and was always impressed with their great service. I mean, for like 25 cents you could send a letter from California to New York  and you could pretty much guarantee that it would get there in a couple of days.  Which is pretty amazing when you think of it.  I used to say that the Post Office was probably the only government agency that delivered real bang for the buck.

So it was weird how everything seemed to go south at the main Post Office.  And it wasn’t just me.  At least half the time I went in there, there’d be some person yelling at one of the clerks for their latest screw up or for the latest bureaucratic hoops they were forced to jump through.


And then 6 months ago, I really started to have problems when I went in there to pay my 6-month rent on my P.O. Box. Things were going fine until about 3 weeks later when they mysteriously put a lock on my box.  When I complained to the clerk, they said they had locked my box because I had failed to pay my rent. I know for a fact that I paid it. I even checked my bank records which showed me taking out the exact amount on the day that it was due. But of course I had thrown out my receipt after 3 weeks so there was no way I could prove it. I’m sure the senile old bat at the front window had failed to properly register my transaction. But there was nothing I could do about it except fork over another $65 for the rent, plus an extra $40 for the “late fee.”

And as if I wasn’t already in a bad enough mood, the clerk informed me that I would also have to prove that I was a “Berkeley resident” before they would unlock my box.  I mean, I’ve had that box for 20 fucking years, and now I have to prove I’m a Berkeley resident??

“I’m homeless,” I explained. “How am I going to prove I’m a Berkeley resident?  Get a notarized  note from the feral cats at my campsite in the Berkeley hills?”

“That’s not our problem,” informed the clerk, sourly.

So, after several weeks of running around in circles, and trying to figure out how to get my P.O. Box back, I remembered that I was still registered to vote at the address of my old Berkeley apartment. So I managed to dig up some recent campaign mail that had my name and address on the envelope. And, after several more days of jumping through bureaucratic hoops at the Post Office, I was finally able to get my box unlocked.



So now it’s 6 months later.  And when I go to pay my rent, the clerk at the window is  the same senile old bat that had screwed up my transaction the last time.  And guess what?  He screws me over again.  When I try to pay my fee he says:

“I’m sorry but your box has been locked.”

“WHAT??” I said.  I was expecting the worst, and now I’m getting it. “Why is my box locked??”

“I’m sorry,” said the clerk.  “You’ll have to talk to the supervisor tomorrow.”

“This is CRAZY!!” I said.  “I went through all this the last time I tried to pay my fee.  And I did EVERYTHING you said.  And now I gotta’ go through this all over AGAIN??”

“I’m sorry, you’ll have to talk to the supervisor tomorrow,” said the clerk.

“Everybody that works here is completely INSANE!!”  I shouted.

“Hey, you can’t abuse the postal clerks like that,” scolded the clerk at the next window.

I hastily packed up all my stuff and stormed out of the post office.

I spent the rest of the day (and night) ranting to anyone who would listen about the “idiots” and the “incompetents” at the Berkeley Post Office.

So the next morning, bright and early, I go charging back down to the Post Office for the express purpose of really letting the supervisor have it.  With both barrels! The supervisor is the same person that put me through hell 6 months ago. And I’ve had enough of this shit.

So I storm up to the front window.  And I’m glaring at the supervisor. And if looks could kill, I’d be doing 20-to-life right now.

“How are you doing this morning,” she said, blandly.

“Not very good,” I hissed. “My P.O. box has been locked.  AGAIN!”

But before I could get a word in edge-wise and really let her have it, she informed me: “Oh yes, we had to lock your box. You’re a month late with your rent.”

“WHAT??” I said.  “No I’m not. My rent is due today on the first of April.”

“No. It was due on the first of March.”

I quickly looked at my paperwork.  And realized she was right.

“Oh,” I said, brightly.

So I forked over the $65.  And I didn’t complain about paying the $40 late fee this time.  And I slunk out of there with my tail between my legs.


Maybe it’s a good thing that I screw up and make a fool of myself on a semi-regular basis.  I’m such an egomaniac as it is. I’d probably really be obnoxious if I was right all the time.