After yesterday's post, about our village, a reader, Theresa made me laugh. She said, in a comment about her town, "our post office lady is something like the Soup Nazi off Seinfeld, but with mail!!"
That got me thinking of the unique and powerful position the "post office lady" or, if you live in England, the "postmistress," has in a village. Of course there are postmasters too, but I think they are outnumbered.
For the first 20 of our 22 years in Bond Head, I cannot remember any other post office lady in Bond Head but Judy. The post office then was in the tiny modified garage that adjoined her neat bungalow. A fairly steep driveway led to its door. I found out just how steep one day when I drove my standard shift car up the little hill and got out, realizing too late and to my horror, that I had left the car in neutral and forgotten to apply the handbrake on the hill.
It began rolling away as I stepped out and in vain I tried to recapture it. My strength was no match for its gathering momentum and it exited the driveway and crossed the street, coming to rest against the bumper of a vehicle on the other side. I am forever grateful that it was a car and not a person that it landed against. That was my most expensive trip to the post office.
Judy was sociable but businesslike and held sway from a counter, behind which a door led to her backyard. She was petite and rounded, with short blond, salt and pepper hair and blue eyes. When she had vacations, substitute post ladies took over. I don't know where they came from but one of them was always dressed in a uniform with striped shirt and looked exceedingly efficient.
When Judy retired, the whole community wondered who would be our new post office lady (or man, sorry, men!) Judy had her bungalow and the post office/garage for sale at the same time, and we wondered if the job, the house and the garage might all stay together, but they didn't.
Laurie became the new post office lady and the post office moved to a section of the variety store next to an Esso gas station, all run by a Sri Lankan family. Laurie is of Ukrainian stock, not tall, and voluptuously built. She has dark hair and eyes and warm olive toned skin, toasted to a deep tan in summer by sitting outside the post office for a smoke and read.
I had to adjust to Laurie's relaxed style, but her heart for the community won me over quickly. Soon after she and the post office moved into the variety store, the Sri Lankan owners had a devastating personal tragedy. Their daughter, a nursing student, was murdered in her Toronto apartment. Laurie rallied the whole community to a memorial service to which we all brought food, at St; Catherine's Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Nothing could ease the pain the family must have felt and still feels, but they must have felt surrounded by the love of a lot of people, and they graciously allowed themselves in their grief, to receive it.
Whenever there is a death or a traumatic event of any sort in the village, Laurie sets up a collection box on the counter for flowers from us all. The walls of the post office is adorned with posters of lost pets or items for sale. Right now Karma the cat has been missing for a long time.
Laurie's faith journey is adventurous and sincere. She is eclectic in her faith connections and puts out frequent calls for prayer for those in need in her family and the village.
Recently the post office moved from the variety store to its current location in the church hall adjoining St. Catherine's Church which was bought by the Ukrainian Orthodox priest from the Anglicans. The ladies of the church, a very dedicated group of women, bake and sell their pies and butter tarts each week to pay the mortgage. And last year when I organized a fund-raising spaghetti dinner for children with disabilities overseas, they donated pies for the dessert table, especially glad to help because our focus that year was orphanages in the Ukraine.
Laurie is pregnant and with the birth of her baby is imminent, I wonder who will take her place while she's away? Will we get a businesslike person who just does their job? That will seem like a hotdog without mustard or relish.