Gazing through a pair of thick black frames, salt-and-pepper hair curling across his wizened forehead, Jim the clerk stands behind the US postoffice counter and elaborates on the minute differences between certified mail and delivery confirmation.
They are not particularly interesting words. In fact, these are decidedly boring details on the format, the electronic versus paper receipt, and the cost. Jim is simply doing his job.
Yet there is something different about Jim. His wrinkled hand points at each detail on the return receipt, his lips enunciating the same practiced words, words he had spoken several times daily for many years. Slowly, steadily, all the while with not-quite a smile but a concerned expression as though emailed receipt versus paper truly matters. He cares, and it shows.
Perhaps this interaction is foreign to me, having grown up in the world of online retailers, accustomed to one-click purchasing, Buy-It-Now, and next-day air shipping. Perhaps I have been trained under the ultra-condensed, all-caps, and unpronounceable WRU’s, WTF’s, and LMAOROFL’s that comprise the CF that is our modern language.
A simple, ernst face-to-face exchange with a post office clerk for 5 minutes making a minimally consequential decision made my day.