Early morning at the Post Office is the busiest time of the day, although there
never really is an un-busy time, especially if you’re Postmaster Morgan. There
are lots of logistics to stay on top of: what mail trains are coming in and when
they are leaving, is there any mail coming by river, how many buggies are
ready to go at any given moment, what the horse situation is like, how many
drivers are available and, ever since they started making free mail delivery to
residences in the city, a whole herd of bicycles and their riders to corral.
Very soon, Postmaster Morgan knows he’ll have to do the same thing outside
of the city because of the new Rural Free Delivery service being adopted
around the country. Which means more wagons and horses and drivers
heading out to farms that dot the countryside.
This didn’t bother him in the least, even though it was a big expense (and
other postmasters were dragging their feet). He knew firsthand how difficult it
could be for farmers to come into the city to get their mail. Sometimes it
would require a full-day’s trip (which meant the loss of a full-day’s work) and
many farmers simply would wait for weeks until they had to come into the
city for supplies or equipment.
He’d also caught wind that the Post Office in Washington had been
experimenting with the “horseless wagon” which sounded suspiciously like
that loud contraption the Duryea boys have been rambling around on out in
the country. Well, at least people would know the mail was coming albeit
from a mile away (and at a much slower pace).
After greeting Miss Daisy, he’s onto the problem of the moment: some
incompetent whiskeydaddlers lost control of their cart and two barrels came
crashing down just outside the stables. He wasn’t so much worried about the
drivers getting drunk (many of them were already) but drunk horses were
another thing altogether. And they were struggling to keep the larger beasts
out of the pools of whiskey that were accumulating in the ruddy street.
After greeting Postmaster Morgan, Daisy heads to the back rooms where all
the letters and parcels get separated and filed. As an apprentice, her day is
busy in a much different way – instead of “doing” she is “learning.” And
learning is something she’s always been very good at, whether it be learning
math and grammar in school or learning how to repair a broken wagon
wheel on the farm.
She’s picked things up quickly at the Post Office and today will be her first
day working directly with customers on her own. Well, sort of on her own. Her
supervisor will be right there to help, not so much with problems or issues that
might arise, but to introduce her to the people who come in, most of whom
her supervisor knows by name.
It was when she stepped up to the counter for the first time and cast her
eyes down the growing line of people looking expectantly at her – most of
them much older than her, who would look down at her otherwise – that she
realized there might be a place for her here. She stood up a little bit
straighter and said, confidently,
“May I help you?”