Yesterday I spent over 45 minutes in my local post office – not because I wanted to but just because that's the way it is – (oh, and the small matter of having to post a birthday present to my son in Australia.)
When I arrived there were 12 in the queue including the lady being served who was having a lot of trouble translating a customs form. By the time I got to the front of the line there were 17 people behind me and it was getting close to closing time.
There is only one employee in our post office though it is a large post office and there are 3 "stations". She must do everything from manning the counter, answering the phone, retrieving packages from out the back, etc etc. She stands behind a counter of bullet proof glass. If you have a package it has to be placed in a bullet proof cube with a huge steel bolt holding her side closed. Once your package is in there she slams the bolt across the other way so that the door on your side is locked and she can safely open her side to get the package.
There are no displays of stamps or packing items for sale – just empty wire racks. There is the bare minimum of forms out and there are no pens. There is a camera watching everywhere. I got quite a few minutes of entertainment watching a guy operating the copy machine which is chained and padlocked to the wall (seriously) - this I learnt when he dropped money and was attempting to move the machine to retrieve it.
There is a sign saying that the post office closes between 2 and 3 pm for a "lunch break" Mon-Fri (therefore I assume they only have one staff on during the week as well as Saturday). There is a new sign saying that this post office will close on Saturdays from 1st March.
During the 13 months we have lived in our house I have not received one request for donation from a charitable institution (I was lamenting the fact I did not have any of those little address labels they send with their request). When we lived on the other side of the park we got at least one a week. My new zip code is more in need of assistance than able to give it. There is a lot of Section 8 housing (public housing) in my ward as well as a number of half way homes and small shelters.
It seems that areas which need it most are the first to lose services. The number of people using this post office during the 45 minutes I was there suggest there is a need for the Saturday service. I must say that during the long wait there was not one indication of impatience or annoyance from anyone and the lady behind the counter greeted everyone with a "Happy Valentine's Day".
This is what I wish I was doing today……. (brother-in-law's shar pei)
But we are visiting friends for lunch this afternoon so I had better get a little more like this: