I wrote this a few years ago when I was living in Larchmont, NY.
I still think of this story every year when I go to the post office to buy my holiday stamps.
I'm not much of a holiday-card-sending kinda person, but I send a few.
I asked the teller for Hanukkah stamps. He cheerfully told me they were all out, "Given Larchmont's sizable Jewish population as you know, I'm sure you're not surprised."
Actually, I was completely surprised. First, at the thought of Larchmont having a sizable Jewish population. And second, at the thought of that same sizable Jewish population conspiring to clean-out the local post office of all its Hanukkah stamps by early December.
Undeterred by the shortage of stamps depicting the Festival of Lights, I respond: "I can use any stamps, just as long as they're not Christmas."
Delighted with this information, he suggests "How about Kwanzaa?"
"Sorry," I say, "Any stamps as long as they're not Christmas or Kwanzaa. I really meant anything non-holiday. Don't you usually have snowflakes or snowmen or something like that?"
The postal guy answers, "No, I don't think so. We have all the holidays though. We even have Jihad stamps."
I look at him blankly.
The postal guy continues, "I know you won't want those. To be honest, they're a tough sell. They came out right after 9-11. Bad timing. No one wanted to buy them. A few people did, I think they felt guilty. So they bought the Jihad stamps, but in general, they're not a good seller. Not like the Hanukkah stamps!"
At this point, I just want to leave, with or without stamps, but being a small town post office with a small town feel, the lady in line at the teller next to me says, "Get her the stamps with the man carrying the heart. They're perfect."
As I had very low stamp requirements, I was sure these stamps with the man carrying the heart were indeed perfect.
The postal guy brings me green stamps, with a man carrying a heart, just as suggested.
"Perfect!" I exclaim, delighted to be getting out of this suddenly too-long, too-religious and too-political post office outing, when my friendly postal line neighbor looks over and barks, "Not the green ones! Those aren't the right ones! It has to be the red ones!"
Without consulting me, the teller then goes frantically from bay to bay looking for the "red ones."
At the last bay, he grabs a strip, and shouts to me "These are the last ones! You got here just in time!"
Yes, I thought to myself.... just in time.