You know how I know this house isn't really clean? Because I can't find anything. I know I have envelopes and stamps, for example. I've seen them. Recently. As in, a-few-days-before-Thanksgiving recently. They're probably upstairs now, in one of the two messy catch-all rooms that will someday (soonish, I hope) actually be a craft room and guest room in more than name only.
Just about everything portable is upstairs in those rooms, because I didn't have time to put it somewhere permanent in the getting-ready-for-guests rush. Since Friday was the first of the month, I needed both envelopes (for my owner's association dues) and stamps (for the dues and the mortgage payment). I took one look at those rooms Friday morning, said, "Yeah, right," and decided to go buy more somewhere.
"Somewhere" turned out to be on campus. I got envelopes at the student book store and stamps at the on-campus branch of the post office.
Mike the Mailman is a fixture on campus. He's been here since before I was a freshman, back in 1986. He loves his job, loves the school, loves students. The guy in front of me in line follows him on Facebook, which is how he knew it was Mike's birthday. Mike joked that he looked pretty good for forty, huh? I took up that part of the conversation when I got to the counter.
"So, Happy Birthday! Did I hear you say you were forty? Forty-and-holding? Me too."
"Oh," he said confidentially, "I haven't seen forty in a very long time. So what can I do for you?"
"I need stamps."
He scooped up and spread out a bunch of different books.
"They don't have to be pretty. It's just for the mortgage."
"Okay," he laughed, and pulled out some more.
"Actually, you know what? I think I'll go with Madonna and Child. Might as well be festive, huh?"
"Yeah, those are nice." He handed me back my change and wished me a good afternoon. I stood a little to the left to get the stamps on the envelopes, headed for the letter-box near the exit.
"Hey!" He called after me. He was holding up his hand-made "You're next!" sign to the next person in line. "Thanks for paying your mortgage!"
"Um. You're welcome?"
It wouldn't occur to me not to.