The mailroom was supposed to be professional. Bloodworth/Sterling Mail & Communications Services prided itself on professionalism, efficiency, and customer service, at least that is what it said on its corporate website with a goofy grinned group of models In blue and gray uniforms and that is what it said on the wall of this windowless warehouse mail room. Charlie was playing a raucous game of handball against the tagline wall. Laughing by the bins, Billy and Other Billy were billowing white plumes of Brass Knuckles and betting on when Charlie would injure himself. I was mad at myself for leaving my AirPods on the kitchen table. My head dropped back. I am so bored. I glared at my phone. It was only 9:16.
The mailroom was efficient in its way. Bloodworth/Sterling Mail Center SouthWest 43 managed 27 fan clubs. Our section handled musicians, mostly aging rock bands I never heard of and pop stars I wouldn’t listen to. Today’s agony were the fans of Michael Smith, a boy band breakout star whose big puffy lips and stupid pretty face was on teen girls’ bedroom walls across the globe. My department was Fulfillment. I don’t know what that even means. We brought in the fans’ letters and packages to the stars, opened them and sorted them. That’s it carry, open, sort all day for minimum wage. Where’s the fulfillment? For sorting there was a bin for normal fan letters. Another bin was for mad as a bag of frogs letters. There was a bin for fans’ nude photos. We had a cork board for the really funny nude pics. Gifts, usually stuffed animals, socks (why do fans send their favorite singers socks?), phone cards, hand knit sweaters, went into yet another bin. Pretty much anything good we kept. We were all twenty-somethings, mostly college students except for Old Man Dan who was I don’t know forty maybe. I just know he had kids, a mortgage to pay, and like to tell us how things were back in his day when kids weren’t so entitled. Old Man Dan and my boy Gomez scanned the letters for hard luck/feel good stories that got sent over to the individual celebrities’ management companies, so if a celebrity had new album to drop or a movie to pump or a DUI they could do a hospital visit to a lucky fan.
To the left was Data Capture, the girls entered the fans’ names and contact info so the loyal listeners would learn about tour schedules and contests. The loyal listeners also got ads for spray on hair, inside the egg egg scramblers, and other garbage when the mailing lists were sold. I could hear Irina fussing at her boyfriend over the phone. Tisha, Lulu, and Hailey were talking about The Office again. Weird Stephanie announced this was her song and started awkwardly dancing next to her desk. Fulfillment and Data Capture, clad in identical blue and gray uniforms with our plastic bins and our laptops, are only joys in this place were each other and stuffing our backpacks with socks and Beanie Babies. Chicks be so loud, I thought. Weird Stephanie caught me staring and smiled. Oh hell no. Quickly I looked down at the letter in my hand.
The mailroom did value customer service. I did what I never do I read the letter I had just opened. It read: Dear Michael, It has been one year since I joined the Michael Smith fan club. I never thought I would win a backstage pass. I never thought you and I would spend one special night together. Even though our time in the tour bus was brief I will hold it in my heart forever. I promised to never share our secret love. I love Scarlet Carson Smith and all her movies especially the ones with the wizards and I would never break up your home. Memories of that precious and our son are enough—
“I got another winner for the cork board!” Gomez shouted. Other Billy hooted. Charlie turned and his hard ball careened off the Bloodworth/Sterling company motto wall and smacked him upside his head. Now Billy hooted. The Data Capture girls popped up and turned in unison like prairie dogs. Irina headed for the first aid kit. I slipped the letter and photos of a suspiciously puffy lipped toddler into my B/S embroidered company uniform pocket and grinned from ear to ear.