Christmas madness arrives in the post

Forget instant messages, social media and emails, a good old-fashioned parcel tops all of them and on Friday night I received notice one had been sent to me.

I waited with excitement all weekend, imagining what the parcel - read 'present' - could be.

On Monday I set out to reveal the mystery with a trip to the post office, but being the week before Christmas I picked my time carefully.

I went about 3pm - after the lunch hour(s) but before part-time workers finished for the day.

My careful calculations did not pay off.

When I arrived, it was to join a line that was already out on to Talbragar Street.

My "back in 10" comment as I walked out the door suddenly looked as accurate as a snowflake's chance in Dubbo on a December day, but I was determined to stick it out.

Not so for a few people mid-way along the line, but as they left muttering, "I'll come back another day," I silently cheered because their departure brought me one step closer.

When I made it inside the doors the whole experience turned into an impromptu Christmas shopping event.

I eyed off calendars and matched them up for friends who had not even been on my present list just five minutes before.

Why not make the most of this time, I thought, taking a few items from the shelves to peruse while the line snailed towards the counter.

The woman in front of me asked, "Do you mind if I just go and get some envelopes to fill in while I wait?"

I said that was fine - after all, it is Christmas.

When she resumed her place I even thought of asking her to hold my spot while I procured coffee from a nearby cafe.

Some more stationery diverted my attention from the end of the store with all the action.

Then I came to a surprise addition to the retail side of a post office.

Bottles of water - but there was some sense to it because the purchase would both help a person poorer than myself somewhere in the world and keep me hydrated as I did the wait-shuffle-wait dance.

Finally I was called to the counter and proceeded to hinder the corporation's promise of fast customer service.

"How much to send this calendar to Japan?" I asked.

Too much.

So I just handed over my treasured parcel notification card.

As I waited for the staff member's return, I contemplated mints, on special, right near my hand, but I already had some of my own.

The bearer of my surprise came back with an armload of parcel.

It was only as it was put down on the counter in front of me that I realised the cardboard box was not for me.

Fifteen minutes in the queue only to find it was for my sister, the other 'Ms Wheeler'.

I bought some Christmas stamps before I left, weaving with the box out the door.

faye.wheeler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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