Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rule of Good Form

I'm reading Going Postal by Terry Pratchett right now, and have been for a while. I don't get a lot of time for reading, and that's odd, considering I don't even watch television-- I'm just too busy, so I may read a few pages every night as I'm drifting off.

In brief, a condemned man is snatched from the maw of death at the gallows (La Femme Nikita-style) and given a second lease on life as the postmaster of a woefully inept postal system in Ankh-Morpork which has ground to a halt and is something of a joke. O'ertaken by a fit of industrial zeal, the new postmaster revamps and revitalizes the postal system. At least, that's how it is so far...

The funny thing is that so much of it is reminding me of my early days working for the US Postal Service. I really thought the letters were precious cargo, there being something sacrosanct with being entrusted their handling. It wouldn't be long before I felt that I was the only one under that roof with that sense of responsibility. Anyway, it seems naive and rather silly now, but I admit this book brings that back as a sort of bittersweet twinge. I'm wondering how this will end, but I do hope it does so happily, things being the way they ought and all. Being a Discworld book, there will no doubt be some strangeness, but hopefully a harmonic sort of strangeness, just the same.

Anyway, one thing I love about having moved out to a small, older town is that we have a proper post office here, one which is nearly 100 years old and is a grand structure on a relatively small scale. The floors and woodwork are immaculately kept, and all the solid brass fittings positively gleam. You can tell that a lot of pride and care went into the design of the structure, and that it has been impeccably attended by all the folks charged with its maintenance along the way. That's something you can't fake with a new, thrown-up-overnight structure that passes for our public buildings these days. The people who built this post office all those years ago took the purpose of the building very seriously. I wish we collectively took more things seriously these days. Instead, it seems like shopping mall/strip mall design is more an influence in the composition and form of public buildings. Such a pity. We've definitely lost something there. At least for me, in my beloved little Elsewhere, I can go into the Post Office and appreciate what it took to build and maintain that place. Well, not lost, entirely.
For the first time since I began my job in May, I called in sick Tuesday, and will again today. Good thing, too. I went to a walk-in urgent care place, saw a physician's assistant, and they took some xrays. They told me I had a little inflammation in my lungs, but that I'd be fine with mostly over the counter stuff. About an hour later, they called me and said a radiologist looked at my films and that I have a mild case of pneumonia. Bugger. I'm on a zpac now, and hopefully that will knock this out. All in all, I have a lot to be thankful for, and for one, I'm thankful I found out about this before it reached the mandatory hospitalization stage. It's inconvenient and definitely putting a damper on my Christmas spending, but I'm just happy to be here. I'm happy just to be.
I hope everyone will have a happy Thanksgiving. :) I intend to.


Anonymous said...

Neither rain nor snow, nor glom of nit shall stay these couriers.

Hope you enjoy the book. Pratchett is AWESOME!

D.W. said...

Take care of yourself, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Farmmom said...

Hope you feel better soon. I have been through the pneumonia thing and it just was no fun at all. I will be thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

Take care of yourself & get well soon. Enjoy Pratchett during your downtime. He will help it pass more quickly.

B Woodman

Anonymous said...

The post office is the 4th for Elsewhere, and was built in 1936, opened in '37. It is distinguished by shallow bas relief panels done by Allie Tennant. These have been recently restored. The ground here 'walks' and there were finite cracks all over the panels, now cleaned and fixed.
Miss Tennant was a rarity in the 20s and 30s, a woman artist/sculptor. Her brother was something-or-other in government, so she got contracts for work that a woman otherwise wouldn't have had. She was a friend of my aunt, who wrote a little biographical pamphlet about her. Miss Tennant's most famous piece is the sculpture of the Indian at the entrance to the Dallas Fairgrounds.
Elsewhere PhD

Roscoe said...

"Going Postal" is Sky's next Pratchett miniseries adaptation, scheduled for broadcast in the UK at Easter.

Sky's "Hogfather" (now available in the US at Amazon) is extremely faithful to the book and a lot of fun to watch just to see if they missed any detail. The people involved in the production obviously love the books and the man himself.

George said...

We have a post office like that in Phoenix, downtown. Built in the 30's, I think. Not the huge chrome, glass monstrosity that is the main one, now. At one time, this small structure was the entire federal building (!!)
Hope you get better, soon. May I suggest more OYSTERS?

Crucis said...

Many of the older Post Offices were built by the WPA---FDR's make-work projects. Now the Post Master General has announced that many of these older, rural offices will be closed and merged to safe money.

Appreciate'em while you have them. They'll be gone soon.

Christina LMT said...

Phlegmmy, take care of yourself! I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, pneumonia notwithstanding, Sweetie!