An important message to all on my important holiday mailing list (if you received Valentine's Day, you'll likely get St. Patrick's Day, etc. etc.): The mail might feature a little dictator decor this month.
I went to the post office a few days ago to mail a package and two square cards, which require extra postage. The ever-helpful and more than a little neurotic postman was happy to help.
You'd think that the Ballantyne Commons post office would stock up on supplies given the amount of people it services. But no. Everytime you go it's pretty much like this is a dry run for the postal service. Labels are everywhere, their paper backings strewn about. And forget about ever getting any special-issue stamps. The posters might show LOVE and Celebrate! stamps, but all you'll be getting is the Liberty Bell, my friend.
So I shouldn't have been terribly surprised when my postman turned his back to me and headed to a tiny back counter that had on it what appeared to be a New Balance shoebox (basically) filled with all the "odd" stamps.
"Well, I don't have any 20-cent stamps," he told me. "But I do have 10-cent ones!"
"Great," I replied. "Can I have 30 or so?" I asked. Looking at my two sad envelopes, the postman appeared confused."I'm mailing St. Patrick's Day cards soon and they're all square cards and envelopes," I explained. He nodded.
"I can give you 60 10-cent stamps," he said. Great, I thought.
"Fine," I answered.
Well, imagine my surprise when he plunked down 60 of these babies.
For all of you not in the know, this bad boy is the American Clock stamp, first copyrighted in 2002 (really? is that necessary?) and issued in 2003, from the oh-so-popular American Design Series, which also features (more famously) a Tiffany lamp and a Navajo turqoise necklace.
After a bit of research I discovered this fine piece of postage commemorates the Banjo clock, first made in 1805 by Simon Willard in Massachusetts. Despite its fascist features, this clock grew from home use to widespread popularity in schools and businesses - supposedly.
But as I stood there at the post office counter I knew nothing of the Banjo clock or its creator Simon Willard. All I knew was that before me sat a sheet of what looked like Nazi clocks, the favorite stamp of der Fuhrer. Between the camo-green and that awfully angry-looking eagle, how could I think anything else? How could the American government approve, copyright, print and distribute stamps that look like this? Who in the world could look at this and think, "We have a winner. Killer stamp design!
I looked down at my two sad square envelopes, which practically begged me not to place two American Clocks on each of them. It was bad enough they had un-festive Liberty Bells as it was. To make matters worse, the square envelopes thoughtfully suggest in tiny lettering: "Requires extra postage! A butterfly stamp!"
Butterflies might work for 20-cent stamps but when you cut down to 10 cents you get a Nazi timepiece.
My German and American heritages were offended simultaneously.
"You're kidding me, right? This is a real stamp? An American stamp? A stamp that's currently in usage?" I asked in disbelief. The guy nodded, clearly unsure about what was giving me pause. You could almost make out the thought bubbles over his head: "I thought I told her we didn't have 20-cent stamps. I checked the shoebox twice. These are lovely stamps!"
I sighed and handed over my money.
So to all of you receiving St. Patrick's Day mail from me, your envelope will be covered in postage. Most of it might be green, but I'm pretty damn sure it's not celebrating the same holiday I am.