Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Post Office Grandeur

The New London Post Office is a setting fit to usher the republic's commerce and communication. It is not usually busy except the moment the service windows open and during lunch hour. During off-peak hours, the post office is usually empty. During December, the story is different. During the busiest postal season of the year, the single file line snakes through the vast lobby at all hours of operation.

The service is always USPS-perfect no matter how many people are in the lobby, but during December you can expect to cool your heels and test your patience like an athelete. Luckily, the lobby of the New London Post Office is a beatiful and noble place in which to waste your valuable time.

This federal edifice has murals commisioned in the 1930s that run along the top of the wall under the ceiling and above the PO boxes. These murals purportedly illustrate the city's illustrious whaling trade. No whales are visible and there is no gore beyond a little pinkish seawater featured in a few panels. A lot of half-naked men hang off rigging on the high seas, but only an antiquarian or Moby Dick fan would realize what these paintings are supposed to portray.

Because they are so oblique, they are an interesting subject of study for people waiting to mail packages. People stare at the murals and wonder what is exactly happening in them. The different angles viewed from the floor do induce vertgo and nausea when studied for a half hour. After awhile, it feels as if one is on the ocean. Once you look at the floor, you realize you are stuck in line, so it is better to let the imagination roam on the vistas painted on the wall under the ceiling and above the PO boxes.

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