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You can always count on something happening in the post office

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
Each and every week for the past twenty or so years Iíve sat down and knocked out one of these columns. Each week that goes by, I search for something new to write about. In all of these years I cannot think of a single thing that Iíve written about more than once or twice. I seem to do a lot about men and women, but that just seems natural to me.

The other topic Iíve focused upon is the government. It always seems like there is something to write about in that category. I never run out of things to discuss. This past week was not different.

As you might recall, weíre moving into another house. We finally sold ours and started moving over a week ago. Moving entails changing your address, moving your utilities and various other functions. If youíre trying to look for something to write about, it also gives you an opportunity to observe new things, any of which might be the subject of another weekly effort.

This past week was no exception. My first trip was to the post office. You can always count on something happening there. As luck would have it, I made two observations which Iíll tell you about. Several years ago, we stopped receiving mail at our house due to some folks stealing things in our box. We started using a post office box. Trust me that has led to some things I could write several columns about, but I donít have the time this week. Anyway, after standing in line for about fifteen minutes I handed over my two keys for the box to one of the guys at the counter. I told him that I had changed my address the week before and just wanted to return the keys. He hands me a two page form to fill out. Iím thinking itís to get the money back for the unused portion of my box rent which I had just paid. Seeing that it looked rather lengthy, I stepped to the side so other people could take care of their business. I told the postal employee that I would fill it all out and was he the person that should get it once I finished. He saidÖ ĎYes, and then I can give you your two dollars back.Ē I asked what happened to my box rent and he said Iíd have to come back for another form; this one was just for the return of my key deposit. I walked out, who has time to fill out two pages for two dollars? Not me.

On the way to the car, another guy has one of the drop in boxes open and is taking all of the mail out and putting it into a big basket. A lady stops and hands him a couple of letters. He tells her they have to go into the slot in the box once heís finished cleaning it out. She tells him that sheíll miss the pick up if she has to do that and canít he just put them in his basket while sheís standing there? He says, nope has to go into the box. Then he closes the box, pushes the basket away and the woman stands there. I told her to go back into the post office and put the mail in the slot inside, it might still go out. Insanity.

I call the alarm people to have my alarm disconnected. After you go through about five minutes of some unknown music the voice mail prompt tells you that if you want to change or disconnect your service, press three. I do this and the music comes back on. Another three or four minutes goes by and finally a real human (I suppose she was real) comes on the line and I tell her I want to stop the service since weíre moving. She says I canít do this at this number since they are the local office and I have to go through the national office to cancel service. I ask if thatís the case, why have an option number three on your voice prompt and she tells me that she really doesnít know , but itís always been there and she gets asked this question several times a day.

My final for the day was when I called the power company to disconnect my electricity. Here again, you get a full ten minutes of Mozartís string quartet for cement pouring or something like this. Anyway, the prompt tells you to enter your ten digit account number and press the pound sign. I do this four times and each time it tells me I donít have a valid account. Finally another human comes on the line ( I swear itís the same woman as the one working at the alarm company) who tells me I donít have an account with this number. I tell her thatís funny since they have been cashing my checks for over ten years without any problems. She asks if there is a hyphen before the last number in my account. I tell her yes and she says thatís the problem. She says I must enter the account number as well as the hyphen. I tell her there is no hyphen on a telephone and she tells meÖ ďI hear this every dayÖ..Ē

I have to stop now and go unload some boxes.

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America March 11, 2009 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
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