The Story Left Behind

I’d been watching him because of his motionless manner of waiting. Dressed in jeans and a long sleeved gingham shirt, he stood straight, feet apart, clutching his box. Others fiddled, fidgeted, looked around, and shifted. Some checked phones. Besides that, the other eight people in the post office line were women. He and I were the only men.

He looked about my age, and had short grey hair, but I didn’t know him. Equal parts of bewilderment and resignation seemed poured into the man.

“Next,” the clerk said.

The man walked up to the counter and put his large box onto it. The box didn’t seem to weigh much.  As the clerk slid the box onto the scale, the man said in a loud voice, “There are eleven items in this box. Nine of them are glass bottles or jars. There are jams and jellies, pancake syrup, blueberry infused balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. All of those can break. I think the only things that can’t break are the Branson Chocolates and the pancake mix. It’s a thank you gift for my brother. We stayed at his house last week. My wife picked everything out. She said he’d like them. I guess I believe her.”

The postal clerk said, “Is there any alcohol, flammable materials, lithium batteries, or hazardous materials?”


“Do you want it insured?”

“Yes, I was told to insure it and get a tracking number.”

“How much do you want to insure it for?”

“Fifty dollars.”

The clerk pressed buttons and applied labels. “Thirty-one ninety-five.”

The man paid.

“Have a good weekend,” the men said to each other as the postal clerk handed the other a receipt.

Nodding, the man folded the receipt, slipped it into a pocket, and walked out with equal parts of bewilderment and resignation, leaving me to wonder about the story he was leaving behind.


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