â€œI came to see if Crazy was here.â€
The manâ€™s voice was thin and crackly and drew my attention. I was leaning on the counter of our local post office waiting for a manila envelope to be weighed, priced, and stamped. Needless to say, this was a welcome and intriguing interruption. Not that a visit to the post office lacks excitement per se, but, well, after looking at the faded stamp collection on the wall I had mentally started counting ceiling tiles. Fourteenâ€¦fifteenâ€¦ewww, what kind of stain is that?â€¦
The man stood at the door, appeared to be in his eighties, slender, and sporting the dayâ€™s facial hair growth. There was something about the twinkle in his eyes that strongly reminded me of my dad. A little pang hit my heart and bounced around for a moment.
The postal worker barely glanced up as she continued to process my letter. â€œSheâ€™s not here on Thursdays.â€
He looked surprised, then bewildered. â€œTodayâ€™s Thursday?â€
The postal worker nodded. â€œYes. Hey, itâ€™s nice to see you out and about, Harry.â€
â€œToday is really Thursday? I canâ€™tâ€¦ seem to keep track anymore. Well, okay, thanks for the update.â€
I watched him as he turned to go. He appeared a bit lost now that his mission to see Crazy was aborted; yet threw his shoulders back and straightened his posture. Perhaps it was one vestige of dignity he could continue to muster in a world where time felt distorted and confusing.
Softly shuffling down the hall, he turned the corner and disappeared into the winterâ€™s ugly cold. Was this brief interaction the highlight of his day? Was there someone at home waiting to hear his voice? A loved one? A pet? Why hadnâ€™t he been out and about for a while as the postal worker indicated?
â€œThat will be $1.13. Is there anything else I can do for you?
â€œNo, Iâ€™m good.â€ I pulled out my money and thanked her for her time.
â€œStay warm,â€ she said, the traditional Minnesota winterâ€™s version of â€œSee ya.â€
Time. What would it be like to have too much of it? As I drove away I felt thankful for what I race against, take for granted, and pine for all at once. Time. I thought about the old man and his vivid reminder that perspective changes and loneliness happens, invited or not.
Thank you, Harry. You were the best part of my day.