You Say N-velope, I Say AHN-velope: A short story and a play in one act


Mrs. Fussy Crankypants has a beautiful friend who is a nurse and who lives in China helping people who need medical assistance and especially women and infants because she wants so very much to show to them a God who is loving and who loves them even in the midst of the Very Large Difficulties that are face daily by people in rural and/or poor urban China. Beautiful Friend is far from Fussy or Cranky, as far as Mrs. FC can tell.  Mrs. FC would like to be Beautiful Friend when she (meaning Mrs. FC) grows up.

Mrs. Fussy Crankypants’s beautiful friend is married to a charming Chinese man. Mrs. FC just assumes he is charming because she has never actually met him but cannot imagine her beautiful friend marrying anyone who was not charming.  Beautiful Friend and Charming Man are soon going to be adopting two boys from Ethiopia and Beautiful Friend asked Mrs. FC to send children’s books in English because they are hard to come by in China and/or are ludicrously expensive for people who are dependent upon the kind gifts of others to do their work.

Mrs. FC, being given the heroic task of braving used books stores in search of adequate literary entertainment for infants, came away the victor, albeit quite a few dollars in the red.

The Story:

Mrs. FC decided to lovingly package the various entertaining and winsome books she had bought for Beautiful Friend and Charming Man’s little soon-to-be baby boys and to take the package to the post office to find out which manner of shipping would be the most cost effective. And by cost effective, she means cheapest.

When Mrs. FC lived overseas, her family and friends would send little presents via surface mail, which took several months but was very cheap.

Mrs. FC hates going to the Post Office. She loathes it. She would rather clean the toilet than go to the P.O. Ok, no she wouldn’t but she is allowed to utilize hyperbole when talking about this topic.

And the reason she detests the P.O. is because of the one postal employee whom, without fail, is always the one to assist Mrs. FC in all of Mrs. FC’s postal needs. And by “assist” she means “stand at the counter and snarl in a short, surly fashion”.

Imagine Mrs. FC’s dismay to find, upon having a one-sidedly polite discussion with Mrs. Never-helpful PO Employee, that the surface route has been cancelled for international shipments (although she believes that it may still be available for domestic shipments, but she would not swear to this since Mrs Never-helpful did not exactly say that).  Apparently, ships do not sail the seas any longer.

And so, using burning hot pliers to wrench the information from Mrs. Never-helpful’s mouth, Mrs. FC learned the god-awful sums that she will have to pay to ship these entertaining, whimsical and educational books to the adopted children of medical missionaries in China and don’t you THINK that there would be some kind of discount for that?

The Play:

Mrs. FC prepares to exit the P.O. feeling rather po’d herself. On a whim, Mrs FC asks about the flat-rate international envelopes available and how much they cost.

Mrs. FC: How much are the flat-rate envelopes?

Mrs. Never-helpful: uncomprehending silence

Mrs. Never-helpful: Please?*

Mrs. FC, slowly, but trying to be polite in a I’m-trying-to-be-polite-but-not-ACT-like-I’m-trying way: How much do the flat-rate envelopes cost for international shipping?

Mrs. Never-helpful, forcefully and with condescension: The N-velope?

Mrs FC:  silence

Mrs FC, with forbearance: Yes. 

Mrs. NH: It’s (insert rate here that Mrs FC can’t remember because she was too irritated at having her pronuciation questioned by a woman who gets paid to dole out information only when absolutly pushed to do so DESPITE the fact that Mrs FC helps pay her salary). But you can’t send books in them N-velopes. They are just for documents.

Mrs. FC, with even more forbearance, not bothering to disagree despite having received many things OTHER than documents in international flat-rate envelopes: Yes. I know. Thank you.

Exit Mrs FC Stage Left in disbelief and irritation.

The End


*Translation: Huh?  Reader, the people in my city quaintly use the word ‘please’ instead of ‘excuse me’, ‘pardon me’, ‘what’ or ‘huh’ when they do not understand something.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sharon Sue
    Sep 24, 2008 @ 22:53:13

    Oh, please come move here. There are the nicest two post office employees IN THE WORLD manning the post office nearest to my house. They are eminently helpful and laugh every time I say that I want to ship something “to China on the slow boat,” yes, this is what I say, ironic, isn’t it…anyhoo. They will help you. They will explain everything without blood and turnips being involved. And I will drive you there and let you put non-document type items in the flat-rate envelopes.


  2. Rachel
    Sep 25, 2008 @ 07:03:43

    Isn’t it funny that we all have that one USPS employee that we get stuck with each and every time we have to go to the post office? In Ocean View, we have Henry. Henry will talk to you about anything, even if it’s not appropriate conversation for the public. Last time, he got to tell me all about the chat he had with his boss about his demeanor toward customers. Of course, Henry doesn’t have a problem with his demeanor, and his boss must be crazy…hang in there. 🙂


  3. Lisa
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 09:17:01

    I fortunately have two equidistant post offices to choose from, both of which are staffed with mostly nice people–and fortunately no one as nasty as that. If you bought a flat rate envelope, took it home, filled it, and brought it back, they wouldn’t know what was in it. They might ask, and you could send them to the web page where it says you can ship anything regardless of weight, trying to not sound too superior, of course.

    mjnuyh7m (dog typing–could have deep meaning so I’ll leave it there).


  4. The Mom
    Sep 29, 2008 @ 12:31:49

    You know I used to send you marshmallow peeps in a flat-rate ahn-velope. Perhpas it’s only N-velopes that have restrictions:) Bring your stuff to my house next week; Ft. Wayne has the best and most helpful PO staff in the entire world. They will actually suggest ways to save money even when you don’t ask.


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