Loss of service

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: 

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35 responses

  1. 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.I know of a post office like that here in OKC. It was my post office once upon a time.

  2. I have to say this is a sad and embarrassing state of affairs. At the roots of this story are so many societal issues that we are all in some way responsible for. It really gives me pause.

  3. I never thought about the difference in post offices but now that I do, my local branch is much as you described – except no vending or copy machines at all. And I think there's a 2nd employee somewhere in the back. It also has NO parking and the queue is generally irritable.Switch to 5 miles away, the "good" part of town (where I used to live) – 3 to 4 attendants, lots of items (packing goods, pretty mailers, stamp collections) for sale – and all out in the open. No bullet proof glass. And if the queue gets to long, someone will come out from the back and open and little annex counter they have toward the front. Plus, it's open later.Unless I have a pickup, I drive to the nicer one.

  4. lol. And what a tale. Your post office makes mine look positively like manna from heaven. (not that it is, mind you.) Just the other day, in fact, I was at the post office, needing *one* stamp. There are no machines any more. After waiting in line — for *one* stamp, did I mention the stamp? — I lamented this to the clerk. Who agreed. And explained that the machines have been removed to save the costs of the vendor restocking. In May, the stamp price goes up. And Saturday services are ending, sooner than later. Like the PO doesn't have a budget the size of some African nation's GDP! It's ridiculous. But what can ya do. Glad to hear the wait in line was pleasant at least.

  5. Coffee visits with freinds are the best.
    Our post office lines are always out the door, but yes, people just strike up conversations and the postal folks are always very sweet. Hopefully things will look up soon, relatively soon.

  6. yes I have to mail some things but I am not sure after hearing your adventure maybe I'll just send IOU's and I understand that feeling of wanting to just lay down and daydream snooze the day away but I was out in the truck giving my nephew a bit more driving time before he takes his test!

  7. wow… i can't even imagine that. In Canada we don't have Saturday PO services (though they are open, and you can drop things off to be sent the following business day)… and I've never seen one with such security, w/ bullet proof glass and what not. That's kinda scary! :\

  8. That's a shame. You'd think in the interest of good service they'd close on a weekday rather than Saturday. How awful for the lone employee to try to deal with everything on her own.

  9. At our post office it is a little more user friendly but you have to queue through the card and impulsive gift section. When PS2 boy was 3 he pulled everything off the shelf, then climbed it. As it was my 4th attempt to get a passport I burst into tears when I was yet again rejected.

  10. Yeah we seem to have gone in the opposite direction LOL… the other side of the park there are 2 post offices walking distance from where we lived and one of them is open on Sunday. We could never have afforded to buy a house there though ….. 🙂

  11. Sadly most of us in my area do not own cars to be able to drive to nicer offices. There is certainly a marked difference in many things between the zip codes (you should see my bottle shop! LOL).

  12. Did you see that the "top guy" was paid $800,000 for the year?!!? On Saturday I asked for a book of forever stamps (because of the coming stamp price increase) and guess what? They didn't have any!!

  13. We haven't had Saturday service in Australia for many many years so it was nice to find it here because it is difficult for me to get to a post office during the week – it's a long walk to the one closest to the office and then the wait takes up longer than my available time.

  14. It never seems to work out that poorer people get the same level of service as those better off. I wonder if the USPS decides to close one day during the week across the country if they would re-open ours on Saturday……
    I would hate to be that poor lone employee – at least Saturday is only half a day – the Mon-Fri days must be long on their own.

  15. LOL. Of course they had none! Actually, for my own mental health and spirit, I strongly limit how much economic news to which I expose myself. Because here I am, barely surviving, pounding the pavement for jobs that aren't there or aren't coming to me, for six months. And some dude is making more than I will ever see in my entire lifetime. It's obscene. For my sanity, I need to tune out a LOT of that greed and what's happening in the economy and politically.

  16. Wow…that does sound sad, and a little bit scary.I remember stopping for directions once in downtown Detroit and walking into a convenience store with bullet proof glass And iron bars over the cashier's window..it was quite an awakening.

  17. We'd rather drive farther to go to the postal office not in our neighborhood. We're lucky – there never seems to be any queue. But the woman in our local postal office has a controlling issue. She needs to intimidate her customers before we even utter a word. So now she got her wishes. We simply stopped going. Everybody is happy now. 🙂

  18. LOL. I once went into our old post office with a beautifully wrapped box for Australia complete with customs forms filled in correctly etc and the woman shook her finger at me as if I was a child and chastised me because there was printing on the side of the box!! I was pretty embarrassed but she probably enjoyed her little bit of power.

  19. For that I usually write "used" on the form and then "no commercial value" or NCV. It's worked so far. I get worried about putting the true value of new things on the form incase a postal/customs worker thinks it is worth stealing!

  20. True. I have the same fear. Guess what, we tried "no commercial value" before, and we were questioned if it was true. Our post offices often suspect that we are selling because we send packages "more often than usual". Even when we send new books out, we get some raised eyebrows. "A lot of things to send huh?" This is often what we hear. It's so weird. Don't people ever send new things to friends/family nowadays? The whole post office/UPS store experience should be a Seinfeld episode.

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