Breaking and Entering

You know how when life gets busy, you sometimes wait until the last minute to do some time-specific thing which is really, really important? You know you shouldn’t procrastinate, but you do, so there is very little margin for error, right? And then something screws up your well-laid plans.

My Juilliard application was ready to go, and it had to be postmarked by December 1st. No problem. I got all the stuff together and placed a call to Mail Boxes, Etc. (that should have been my first clue) to inquire about their hours. I was told they close at 7:30 p.m. Great. So I sauntered down around 6:45 p.m. and the lights were on, but the doors didn’t want to open. A cursory investigation (elementary, Mr. Watson) revealed that they were locked. Shit. The hours posted on the door said they close at 7:00 p.m. Yes, that’s right. To recap: the posted hours, the time they actually closed, and the time they said they closed are all different.


I instantly started calling every place I could think of that might be open at 7:00 p.m. on a weeknight to postmark a piece of mail. Mind you, I didn’t need an official U.S. Postal Service postmark, and I didn’t care when it actually got there. So I called other Mail Boxes, Etc. I tried every U.S. Post Office, even some as far away as Los Angeles and San Diego counties. I called courier services, scoured the Web, pleaded with FedEx and UPS. No dice.

By this point, I’m muttering to myself in my best Dana-Carvey-impersonating-Ross-Perot voice, “Okay fine; is that how you wanna play the game? Is that how we’re gonna do it, Cracker Boy?” Time to pull out the heavy guns. I call my good friend Bryan–after all, he has no compunction about breaking a law or three. Unfortunately, he quit his day job, and with it went my access to the Pitney Bowes box.

But I’m not dead yet. My pal Judi is the office manager of a small company in Tustin–they must have a Pitney Bowes machine. No? Crap. But she makes a few well-placed phone calls, and soon the seething Orange County underworld (I can’t even type that without laughing) is working on my behalf. She finds someone who can break us into a local Catholic high school where they have a Pitney Bowes machine, so my problem seems to be solved.

Well, not quite. They get there before I do and quickly realize that they don’t know how to turn back the date on the machine. It’s so modern that it’s actually more complex than your average PC. By the time I arrive, they’ve enlisted the help of a Catholic priest (“Bond. James Bond.”) who has no problem engaging in some minor mail fraud. But he can’t figure the thing out either. It was really very comical: six highly intelligent, resourceful, computer-savvy people versus one measly Pitney Bowes postage meter. Guess who won?

But the war wasn’t over yet. Eventually, the Catholic priest suggested weighing the Juilliard application envelope, finding a comparably sized piece of outgoing mail postmarked December 1st, and stealing the postage from it. And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world”. Five minutes later I’m walking away with a graduate school application postmarked on time and a whole new appreciation for the Catholic Church.


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