God’s Money, The PMG and Honest Abe

10 02 2009

Yesterday, the four new stamps chronicling Abraham Lincoln’s life were dedicated at the Old State Capital Building in Springfield, Illinois.  My boss asked me to assist with the postal operations that were planned for the day.  This consisted of selling the new stamp, commemorative first-day covers and various Abraham Lincoln memorabilia including tote bags, mouse pads and note cards.  I also did a brief stint in the philatelic room applying the special cancellation to various items brought in by philatelists.

It was a very busy day.  There is definitely not a recession when it comes to Abraham Lincoln memorabilia!  One man spent over $700 – he got 10 of everything! 

For the most part the customers were friendly and fun to talk to during lulls.  But every large group of people has a few strange ducks.  Most memorably was the woman who wanted the special cancellation on some envelopes she bought from the Historical Society.  She kept insisting that I make the ink darker.  I did as she instructed and ended up with a mess.  Then she made a huge scene and the postal service had to replace three of her envelopes and stamps.  Her husband was so mortified that he wandered away during all of the commotion.  She waited at least 30 minutes for the philatelic clerk to return from lunch, all the while complaining about my poor postmarking skills.  During this interaction she made me so upset I had to walk away from her in order to remain professional.  This is very unusual for me.  I can deal with any manner of customer, from the woman who had changed her address 33 times in six months and couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t getting her correspondence to the man who tried to pay for postage with soda can tabs. 

My mood brightened when I encountered a certain customer who wanted to purchase a sheet of the Abraham Lincoln stamps.  I told him they would be $8.40.  At that point he took a small notebook out of his breast pocket and consulted his scribblings.  He informed me that all he had left was “God’s money”.  He had spent all of his own money and couldn’t afford the stamps.  He wandered away.

After the ceremony, the Postmaster General approached all of the employees working in the retail area and thanked us for helping out.  He shook our hands and autographed our ceremony programs.  As a Postmaster, it meant a lot to me that the leader of my organization was so personable. 

On a side note, I had lunch at a great restaurant.  The Feed Store is just across the street from the Old State Capital Building.  Their menu offers a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.  I had the cheese soup and a turkey sandwich (it came with sprouts – yum – sprouts are why I love Jimmy John’s so much!).  If you are ever doing the downtown Springfield touristy thing, The Feed Store is a great place to stop for lunch.




One response

10 02 2009

Sounds like an interesting and eventful day. I bet all the Lincoln merchandise is cool.

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