Friday, August 22, 2008


“Did yuu see that Jamaican?” shouts the hefty, red-faced, middle-aged man who has swung open the post office door and stands twenty yards away from the postal workers he’s addressing. His deeply accented voice thunders through the large silent room like a sudden tanker explosion, startling the few customers in line who are unfamiliar with him and his penchant for nonstop conversation.

Walking up to counter, he delivers cold juice and soda beverages as gifts to the postal workers, whom he considers close friends and who smile and thank him, and then takes his place in the short line bellowing the whole time like a cannon.

“That Jamaican was soooo fast. He just blewww away them other guys. It wasn’t even close. Did you seeee that?” he exclaims.

“He was fast,” says the postal manager smiling knowingly at the man

“Do yuu know he’s only 21 years old?”

“21 years old,” he repeats for emphasis. “I can’t wait to see the relay. He just burned them other guys. There was nobody in sight. That Jamaican just flew! Have yuu ever seen anything like it?”

“Carl Lewis,” says the postal manager.

“Well, now Carl Lewis was fast in his day,” continues the burly man, “but not like this Jamaican. Was that an Olympic record or a world record that he broke?”

“A world record,” confirms the manager.

“He was so far ahead of them other guys. He just blew past them. Them people in Jamaica must be real proud of him. He’s the fastest man in the world, the fastest man who ever lived,” he says also proud.

“Ya know,” he continues after a three second pause, evidently ill at ease with even a moment’s silence, “I always fall asleep on the couch and wake up during the rowin’. I hate the rowin’. It’s so borin’. I’m always asleep and then I wake up and it’s always the rowin’.”

“Always the rowin’,” he repeats in a resigned tone.

“Yes sir, the rowing is not very exciting,” the manager concurs. “I like the track & field, the gymnastics, the swimming.”

A regular at the downtown post office, the man always bursts through the door, conversational topics at the ready. It could be the work they’re doing on the freeway downtown causing an awful traffic jam, the thunderstorms that have been predicted for the weekend or his upset stomach after a delicious seafood lunch. He is a hit with the post office’s bored employees who enjoy the free cold drinks and don’t mind the one-way blabbing.

“Now, I’m ashamed to say it,” says the man with a hint of embarrassment, “but the women’s basketball, they shouldn’t even show that on TV.”

The lady working the other counter laughs at this assertion. She has been smiling, along with everybody else in the post office, since the man entered.

“That’s not sport. They was playin’ this Swedish team and the girl was like 5’5. That ain’t no competition. That ain’t no basketball. Who wants to watch that? Now, the American men’s team, they’re good. Nobody can beat them.”

“But that Jamaican, Oooee!” he yelps making a full circle back to the subject closest to his heart, “he was spectacular.”

“Yes sir,” the manager agrees. “He was fast.”

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