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The United States Postal Service

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
It’s time for my annual bashing of the United States Postal Service. I suppose my frustration just builds over something like a fifty two week period and seems to be relieved once I write this yearly message.

Before I get started, please believe me when I say that I truthfully believe there are thousands upon thousands of good, hard working postal employees out there doing their jobs and trying as hard as they can. I am not directing this column towards you, so please don’t get offended and write to me. I am certain that out of the thousands upon thousands of you out there, some of you are really trying to make it easier on those of us who have to use the mail service.

My problem is that I can’t seem to find a station that really tries. The one closest to my house seems to be mired in some form of slow motion or freeze frame mentality. I’m not certain all of them are breathing. These folks act like zombies or creatures from the night of the living dead. If they moved any slower, I’m afraid they might take root and stand in one place for years to come. In fact, now that I think about it, that may be why some of them aren’t moving now. I might check this out. Who should I call the fire department or the state forestry service? I’ll have to think about this one.

Take last week, the post office was closed on Memorial Day, so it was packed with people on Tuesday trying to get things done. When I arrived the line was out the door and the little indicator board said they were serving customer #24, the next ticket (mine) was #76. I decided to use the automatic scales and print my own postage; I can do this and not mess with having to stand in a line for an hour or so.

Only problem? The self-serve scales and printing machine are broke…big “OUT OF ORDER” sign is posted on top of it. So, I go to the machine to buy some stamps since I know what the amount should be for each envelope.

Nope, not going to work there either, another big sign…. “OUT OF ORDER” stuck on the glass. One of the actual moving postal employees comes by as I am standing there trying to decide what to do next. One of the people in line stops this guy and asks him why the stamp machine is out of order. He replies, and I am not making this up… “It’s too full of change, it can’t take any more money.” And then he scurries off to some other part of the post office.

Now, I am a reasonable person who has been in business for a number of years…to me, and maybe it’s just me, it would make sense to take the excess money OUT of the machine so that customers could put more money INTO the machines. But then again what do I know; I don’t work for the government. Besides this would create a for profit mentality, which I don’t think is a consideration for this station.

I have two options, one is to stand in line like the rest of the lemmings and hope for the best and that I can get to the counter before lunch time since this station reduces their available counter people in half during the time most people come in for post office problems during their lunch break. The other option is to go to another station and hope they are a little better organized.

Which is what I did. The closest station is about five miles away, no lines, no broken machinery, in and out in three minutes…piece of cake. This is a great place to go when I need something sent by the postal service.

Now that I have that out of my system, I only have one more complaint. When I mailed my letters, I put a stamp on them that had no printed amount….after a few days it dawned on me that the postage had just been increased, but since the stamps I had been using had no amounts, I wasn’t sure if they were the old ones or the new ones. So I tried calling the post office to find out.

If you ever are in need of some stress and frustration, trust me…just try calling the United States Postal Service and talking to a real, live human being. I think you could get through to the White House easier than this. After forty five minutes of voice mail run around, I saw our postal carrier coming down the street. I flagged him down and showed him the stamps I had been using. Sure enough, they were the wrong kind. Now I suppose all of my bills will be coming back to me or somewhere, but not to where I sent them. That makes me happy….not really.

Which forces me to get back in the car and drive back to the post office to get the correct ones….some days are better if you stay in bed.
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

June 6, 2007 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers

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