Thoughts

An Everyday Stranger

Woodford PO
Woodford, VA

The closest post office that would accept our passport applications would not see us until our scheduled appointment in June.  In fact, most of the post offices within a 30-mile radius required appointments & while that did not surprise me, the length of time until our appointment did.  There were only two post offices that had walk-up service & both were small buildings located in the middle of nowhere.

So, impatient & high-strung creature that I am, I got directions to the Woodford Post Office & we headed out on a rainy day.  The building was located somewhere between Thornburg & Bowling Green & we drove narrow, curvy country roads slowly, since the roads were slick & the bends were blind.  We drove past older homes with DIY parking lots filled with fresh gravel & a slew of various cars as well as wild parcels of land that had overgrown logging trails & were flooded at every flat place.  It was hard to imagine anyone turning those pieces of land into anything profitable. It was also hard to imagine that we would see bold-faced RESIST signs lurching from the treeline not far from a home flying a Confederate flag, but that we saw proof of as we inched along.

Woodford Railroad Crossing
Across the street from the Woodford Post Office

As we approached the railroad crossing, the only sign that we were anywhere close to our destination was three greying buildings.  As we slowed, hoping to see some street sign, the entry for the post office popped out behind a stand of sagging wet trees.  We turned & soon found ourselves inside one of the smallest & tidiest post offices I’d ever seen.  It reminded me a lot of the Hartwood Post Office, which had the functional-but-idealistic vibe of New Deal architecture & was also small but tenaciously holding onto its surrounding community.

The woman behind the counter was eager enough to help us, but she only had one question: did we have our pictures with us?  When we said yes, she sighed in relief, “Good, our camera’s been out of film & I’m still waiting to be restocked.”  She processed our forms efficiently, telling us genially that she’d been doing applications for a year & that we really had made the right choice to go with the passport book instead of the card.  “I know its cheaper, but say you’re on a cruise & the boat breaks down.  When they come to get everybody, you won’t be able to go if they’re flying everyone home.  That card is for North American travel only & they won’t make exceptions for you.”  I had to admit I had not thought of this.

Then she came to the place on the form where the dates & destination of travel were listed.  We had left them blank because the band we had planned to see in Canada hadn’t announced its dates or its venues yet.  My husband, more inclined to small talk than I, explained this & when he mentioned that they don’t hardly tour in the United States, she asked who we were going to see.  “Matthew Good,” I said.

Oh,” she replied, clear that she didn’t know who that was, “I was hoping you’d say Rush; I love them.”  My husband & I replied at the same time that we’d seen them in Bristow a few years back.  We talked over each other a bit & I debated mentally whether or not to mention that he’d hated it & had only gone for me, much like this upcoming trip to see Matt Good.  “I’ve seen Rush too,” she said, trying to remember, “When was it?”

I hazarded a guess, “2012?  Clockwork Angels?”

She smiled—a wide, bright smile, “Yeah!  Yeah, you’re right, it was in Bristow.  Oh my god, they were so good!  It was the first time I saw them live.”

“Me too!” I said & we all joked about the scarcity of women at a Rush concert & what were the odds, y’know?  The rest of the paperwork process got a bit lighter & she was patient with us & our questions as she went over the various payment options & expected wait times.  I don’t think any of us wanted to waste this small moment of shared goodwill.

When everything was done, we all cheerfully said our goodbyes & my husband & I headed back out into the drizzling rain, trying to decide how to head home.  “I wonder what its like to work here,” I said as we waited for a train to slowly finish its crossing.  “Do you think its boring or that its peaceful?”

“Its probably boring,” he said, “I mean, its even smaller & more isolated than where we live & you know how it is there.”

I stared out the window & thought Maybe.  But I was also thinking about the Rush concert, where we had sat in a row with some other ladies & at the end, after we had danced & cheered & sang along with nearly every song, one of them had turned to me & said, “God, that was so fun! It’s nice to be near someone who knows how to enjoy a show!”  I thought about power chords echoing out over the overgrown fields.  And I thought, I bet you at least have a few stories at the end of the day.

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