So that was interesting.
Any of you who have read Searching for Malumba closely have no doubt noted the dedications page. If you haven’t, feel free to click on that link right there and check out the “Look Inside” feature and you can go see it for yourself right now.
Then buy the book.
Ahem. Anyway. SfM is dedicated generally to all the teachers I have known and/or worked with in my life, and specifically to about a dozen or so who have been my teachers, ranging from my second grade teacher to graduate school.
One of those professors is Bill Ayers. Yes, that Bill Ayers. Y’know, the guy who gave DeRay McKesson the idea to wear a vest everywhere he goes.
This week, I got in touch with Bill and another former professor and asked them both if they would be interested in me sending them copies of Malumba, seeing as how they’re mentioned in it and all. Both were incredibly gracious about it and managed to actually seem excited about me sending them some of my nonsense through the mail. Now, Bill still lives in Chicago. The other professor is on sabbatical in Rome right now, but actually works at the Catholic Theological Union, so both packages were going to the same ZIP code.
I have mailed dozens of books from my local post office, and my PO box is there, too. This means that the employees recognize me and that, furthermore, I’m always mailing the same thing— a book or two in the same damn kind of padded envelope I used last time, book rate, and yes I want a tracking number because I send people the tracking numbers.
I have never been hugely fond of the woman who took care of me today. She always seems to be in a bad mood and has the type of pinched. harried look about her that brings to mind the old adage about having the face you’ve earned once you turn fifty.
I hand her my (identical) packages. “Book rate,” I say. The one on top is Bill’s.
She takes a long look at Bill’s, frowns rather conspicuously, and says something that no post office employee has ever said to me when trying to mail a book. And, again, I’ve been in there dozens of times in the last couple of years.
“You understand that any postal employee may open and inspect any book rate package at any time and for any reason, yes?” She stamps the package with something, then looks at the other one, hesitates for several seconds, and stamps it anyway, which seems to indicate that she didn’t have to stamp it.
I keep my face neutral, neither laughing at her nonsense nor arguing with her. Just said yes. You just better package that shit up correctly when you’re done with it.
She takes care of business, carefully putting the book off to the side (note that this isn’t suspicious; she put it where they always put my books when I mail them) and then suddenly remembers that the second package is there too. Stares at that one for a second.
“Are you sure that this address doesn’t need an apartment number?”
What the fuck, lady. Just mail my shit, okay?
“It’s the Catholic Theological Union,” I say. “No.”
I leave out that the professor I’m mailing it to is the CTU’s professor of Islamic Studies. Because I think I’ve had enough shade thrown at me today.