We have a very small lobby to the post office in my little town. One could describe it as a hallway, with a triangle shaped counter in the corner, designed for patrons to stand at and write. The spare priority mail envelopes and express mail labels sit on the window sill for lack of space. The walls are dry walled, clean, white, and bare. Once upon a time at our prior location people were fond of tacking up posters on the lobby walls. In a small town everyone has to go to the post office, so it was a logical place to advertise free kittens, moving sales, and apartments for rent. When we moved down the street to a new building, the Postmaster decided the walls were too nice to get chock full of holes. He decreed the era of posters was over!
We had a few die hards who did not want to accept the new reality. One person taped an ad for free puppies right over the sign that said US Post Office on the building marquee. Another person is in the habit of leaving an Avon brochure. She may think she is getting business from it, because the brochure is gone the next time she checks. I assure you though, it's the Postmaster who promptly removes it. He thinks if he lets it go, then there will be no end to the number of brochures that will stack up. The manager he had hired, before taking over the station himself was a case in point. She used to use the counter as her own private ad space for the health juice she was selling.
Most people eventually accepted the new rules. On occasion a fund raiser is advertised by word of mouth at the counter. For example when a tree fell on a house up here and killed a young man, plenty of people wanted to donate to the family. It seemed only helpful and correct to collect money for the family. Some people would call that "Christian" but it was in fact very non-denominational. The family themselves were not big church goers, and at least two of the people most involved in the collection effort were moral atheists.
In fact when I think of "Christian" behavior, I think of the elderly lady who has recently started pushing her religion around the post office. It started with her vision from God. She told our kindly Postmaster that God told her to clean the lobby and the hallway. Thinking that was a harmless endeavor, he told her she was free to vacuum if she wanted. Soon she wanted to do inside the post office as well. That seemed like a natural progression. I got used to seeing her once a week. I would say good morning, and that seemed pleasant enough. Until she started leaving "books" around. Books with names like "The Tortured Christ." I thought at first she was just forgetting her reading material, until one day the Postmaster mentioned she had left the book specifically for me.
I had no interest in reading it, although I thought it was nice enough for her to think of me. If I read a great science fiction story I guess I would pass it on to a friend. "It's sweet," one of the Postmaster's friend's told me, until it got rude. What is it about religion that makes it so no one cops to rude behavior? Why are we supposed to understand that discussing it is "off limits"? Were she pushing on me the merits of green living, or the communist party, no one would think it odd of me to eventually get annoyed. But because it's Christianity, she was pushing and pushing, every week a new publication, even after I told her it was NOT my religion, she didn't seem to get that she was being offensive.
The Postmaster was pulling her stuff off of the counter in the lobby as quickly as he pulled Avon catalogs and Watchtower magazines. So no matter what she thinks, this woman was not being treated any differently than anyone else. It was She who demanded different treatment. "People like to read Christian literature." She explained to me when I asked her to stop leaving stuff in the lobby.
"That's fine," I assured her. "But it isn't appropriate to leave it on the counter," I explained. "The counter is for people to write on."
Completely missing my point she repeated, "People like reading it, they're taking it."
I explained patiently and politely while making eye contact, "No, they are not taking it. The Postmaster is removing it, because it should not be in the lobby." Why is this hard to explain? Were she leaving flyers for the Mountain Shakespeare company or for a garage sale, she would have understood. People like garage sales. That doesn't mean it's ok to leave the fliers in the lobby. I was started to suspect she was enjoying our conversation. Like she got some manner of brownie points in heaven for acting inappropriately. I wonder how she would feel if some Hindu's or Islamic or Jewish people started leaving literature in the lobby. People like to read that too.
The next day she left a Guideposts magazine. She had taken the care to line out her name and address with a black marker, except she didn't do it very well and I could tell whose magazine it was. I put it back in her post office box. Guideposts is an inspirational magazine. Month after month, year after year it publishes both miracles of faith and short sweet inspirational pieces. I often wondered if the same writer cranked them out, or if it were just really heavy editing, because each piece has the same voice. They never vary. It's always about the simple faith. I think the magazine sings to the chorus, because I don't know any non-Christian people who read it with regularity. The give away pile at the public library is a better place for that sort of thing.