It was his second attempt at the counter and I could tell that he was already flustered; his first go at sending the parcel having been rejected outright.
“You’ll need to fill out this form sir”
As I stuck my stamps on, I saw that his second attempt at sending the parcel was also in the process of being dismissed.
“Sir, I cannae accept this form. You’ve filled it in with blue ink.”
Clearly this man was not a post office aficionado, and therefore not versed in the dark art of unnecessary form filling in.
“I dinnae want to use black ink like.”
“Sir, I can’t accept it unless you complete the form in black ink.”
“I’m nae filling it oot again.”
“Sir, I can’t take it unless you complete in black ink. I don’t make the rules.”
The lunchtime queue was starting to throb. No first time bones were ever thrown by the sole teller, no matter how busy.
“Aye, but you can choose to just accept my form. I’m the customer. I’m always right.”
“Sir, I’m sorry. I can’t accept it unless it’s in black ink. There’s nothing I can do. I need to serve the next customer.”
He turned to look at the audience, turned back, shook his head.
“This is un-be-fucking-lievable. You’re seriously telling me that you won’t send my parcel because I won’t fill in your poxy form wi’ black ink?”
To cut a long story very short, this exchange went on and on and on.
Both sides got louder, angrier and more aggressive.
The queue snaked out the door.
Neither party were for backing down.
Then, all of a sudden, the man started thumping his fist on the perspex window separating him and the teller.
Telling her to take the f’ing parcel or he would f’ing smash her f’ing face in.
I’m pretty sure that we all felt like we should do something, but we weren’t quite sure what.
If I’m honest, it was all quite exciting for a Tuesday lunchtime.
It was all terribly un-British.
This guy was seriously raging.
Eventually the police arrived. I’m not sure who called them, but I’m pretty sure it was less out of concern for the guy’s mental health (or the teller’s safety for that matter) and all about the fact that we were twenty five minutes down on our lunch breaks.
Fairly quickly, the situation escalated and the man was face down on the post office floor in cuffs.
As he was bundled out of the post office and in to the cop car I noticed the now crumpled parcel under the arm of one of the policemen.
I mean, all that.
All that for the petty sake of preferring to use blue ink over black.
Or was it a valiant stand against the jobs-worths, the fascists, the restrictors who make up the sillier of rules.
Or a breaking point that could have been over anything for this man that day.
We’ve all been there, one way or another.
We all sweat the small stuff from time to time.
All hail the rebel without a cause.