I’d be willing to bet the conversation I had with a fill-in postmistress at our local post office a few weeks ago is exclusive to our small town.
Our regular face at the counter, Darla, was out for a few days and I had spoke of, as one does with a complete stranger, what it must be like sending chickens through the mail. I think the conversation spun off from answering the litany of questions required as I sought to mail a package:
“Does this parcel contain anything fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous, including lithium batteries and perfume?”
Well, there goes trying to mail the family fruitcake this year. It’s not even perishable, considering the amount of liquor in it.
Anyway, I was actually mailing a book, which was of no risk to anyone, except perhaps through boredom, but I had asked since chicks are perishable, how are they sent through the mail.
“We get a whole lot of chickens shipped here on their way to Inman,” she declared, "and usually it’s just fine, but sometimes it’s so sad,” she went on to sigh, “because sometimes the people who ship them aren’t even careful and by the time they get to us, sometimes they’ve died.”
“That’s awful!” I had cried.
“I know,” she said ruefully, “and sometimes they show up dehydrated and I can’t stand it, so last time that happened, I carried them home with me and put them in my bathtub so I could care for them before sending them on.”
I’m thinking you wouldn’t see that scene in Chicago, New York, or Charlotte. It takes a small town postmistress who generally has a working knowledge of livestock, not to mention compassion, to shoulder her way in through the front door of her home and pass her incredulous husband, saying, “Move out of the way, Roscoe, I’ve got a hundred chickens that need the bathroom.”
And Roscoe would be grateful that at least this week, it wasn’t bees again.
I nearly asked her to marry me. What a very kind and smart thing to do. I pictured dozens of fuzzy little chicks peeping (and pooping) in her bathtub, getting plenty to drink and cooling off after a stressful journey, packed together in a box punctured with holes for them to breathe.
Of course, once home, I had to google exactly what critters are actually allowed to be shipped through the post office. Guidelines are strict: they have to arrive within 72 hours and not require nourishment. They must be mailed early in the week so that they wouldn’t arrive on a holiday or weekend. But besides day old chicks, you are allowed to mail ducklings, baby emus, scorpions (clearly to someone you hate), honeybees, baby alligators, chameleons, frogs, lizards, toads, tropical fish, bloodworms, leeches, snails and nonpoisonous insects.
But no snakes. No snakes on the #*@%$! plane.
It still warms the cockles of my heart that someone would take the extra time needed to care for innocent animals, dependent upon not always responsible humans, for their welfare. But that’s what it’s like living in a town of 2000 peeps.
Reach PAM STONE at email@example.com.