Thursday, July 29, 2010

Disgruntlement at the Post Office

Yesterday I sent a package to two good friends who moved away. I went to the post office and this was waiting to greet me:

I don't like the President either, but not knowing this group at all I was a little standoffish. I spoke with them briefly after I left. They wanted money which I don't give unless I've checked out the group.

When I got into the post office all I had was my package and the outgoing address on a piece of paper. I got to the counter and said "I need to ship this media mail, its books." They always ask "what is it?" so I beat them to it.

"We don't provide labels. Do you have a label?" the lady said.

I've been to the post office many times and thought I'd seen them slap labels on before. So maybe this is new?

"No, I don't have a label, " I said.

"We sell labels over there," as she pointed to the rack against the doorway. I guess this government run agency which is payed for with our tax dollars and is owned by an entity that can print money (and does to our detriment) needs more of mine to keep going.

Seeing that I was not agreeable to buy one of their labels she said "Or you can tape the paper with the address to the package and just use that."

"Ok I'll do that, do you have any tape?" I said.

"You can use this scotch tape," (which was next to her on the counter) "and maybe it'll work. But we don't provide tape - we sell it, " she pointed to the rack again. I looked at her with disbelief. We had passed from an understandable inconvenience to ridiculous. The irony of the anti-Obama protesters was not lost on me because right around that time an angry woman came into the post office and began banging on the post master door. It took two sets of bangs for the postal lady to respond.

"The post master isn't in," she said.

"Well I want to speak with him!" the middle aged woman barked.

"He's not in." The lady at the counter was strangely very calm about this. It was like working for the government had removed her to a state of serene apathy.

"Who's in charge here then?!"

"Nobody, its just me here. Sorry."

I have a feeling she was angry with the protesters right outside the post office, but I could be wrong. She was really irritated. But hey, its a free country. Liberals are all about getting rid of free speech.

At any rate, the counter lady had just made the poor girl in front of me buy a roll of tape who, seeing my similar plight, kindly offered it to me. I taped it right in front of the counter lady so she could watch me use the free tape and my free makeshift label.

And so, Peter and Audrey, when you get your package in the mail you will now know the story behind it.


Moonshadow said...

My mother spent her entire career as a letter carrier. It's a civil servant position. She knew everyone in town ... and their business. She was on duty when the postal inspector busted someone on her route for mail fraud. Very exciting. Now she has a pension.

In 1970, Nixon signed the reorganization act in response to a strike and since the early 80's, the USPS hasn't directly received taxpayer money. It receives a break for reduced non-profit rates.

From the USPS website: 0 — tax dollars received for operating the Postal Service

However, they are borrowing heavily from the Treasury.

But I remember, not long ago, when clear strapping tape could be had at the counter for free. Given their shipping regulations, they need to make acceptable products available for purchase.

Obviously, postage's "flat rate" means that your letter to Hawaii is subsidized by my letter across town (but nothing is sorted locally anymore - concerns about tapering).

I keep stamps, a roll of tape, and a fine point marking pen in the car all the time. I usually write the address on a 3 X 5 and tape that to a box, if I buy one.

Live and learn.

Matt said...


I hope you don't think I meant to disparage all postal workers. Our postman at the house is very nice and personable. He probably has discerned all our business as well. I guess we don't think about it much but there is a certain trust that is necessary with your letter carrier. The UPS and FedEx guys are the same...and they often comment on our deliveries.

I didn't know there was no direct post office funding. Normally I print labels with postage paid and take them over for business related packages, but this one was personal so it was a different experience.

Live and learn is right.

Moonshadow said...

Naw, naw, I'm just allowing that my postal experiences are mostly from the other side. And my mother loathed the few times she worked as counter clerk. She'd much rather (1) be outside in any weather and (2) meet people at home where they are more at ease. She used to carry doggie treats as well.

As far as knowing too much of people's business, my mother knew before I that my classmate and best friend senior year was away having a baby ... she saw the return address of the home! I'll never forget that.

Audrey S. J. said...

lol great story Matt, though-sorry at your distress. Peter was touched you told the story & mentioned us in it, heh..
I'm so used to mailing stuff at the PO, I usually have no issue, but I usually just have the address on the package/ can even just write it on the blank side with a marker & it'll work!
Thank you, btw, for the package (hasn't arrived yet, but thank you just the same!).

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton