I saw America in the local post office

During lunch time the other day, I went over to the local post office in Wheaton, IL to get my passport renewed. Aside from the fact that it was more expensive than I thought, what most impressed me about the time there was that I saw a small slice of something good. I was reminded — in a post office, a place that’s usually about as happy clappy an experience as a drivers license facility — of what makes me thankful to live in the U.S.

When I walked in to join the line of people waiting to be served, the people in front of me appeared to be recent immigrants to this country. The husband spoke only a few words of English, but his wife spoke a bit more. I hesitate to make assumptions but it seemed from their mode of dress that the family was of the Muslim faith, and might originally have come from an African country. They greeted me with warm smiles and showed me kindness (I needed help with something and they, particularly their young daughter, helped me out while I waited in line.)

Then it was my turn to be served. The white American guy told me he couldn’t help me renew my passport, that I had to instead talk to the manager because he didn’t know how to do it. And guess what? The manager was an Indian woman, also clearly at some point in the past an immigrant to this country. The process to renew my passport had several steps and she helpfully walked me through them all. As a result, I was out the door in just a few minutes even though the process also involved the complication of getting my photo taken.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, it tickled me that smack dab in the center of one of the whitest, wealthiest, and most conservative areas around, I had a good and efficient experience in a U.S. post office, an experience that showed me the best side to a somewhat outdated but necessary government bureaucracy. Thanks to immigrants. How’s THAT for irony in this day and age.

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