We’re coming up on the time of year when smiling, festive, gift-mailing people go to the post office to get mad. I’ll bet you’ll get upset, too, standing a long time in long lines with hundreds of strangers who will spend their time telling you how inefficient government is and how lazy are its employees.
You’ll hear how the USPS is losing billions of dollars a year, with the implication being that if they can lose that much of our money, at least they ought to have the decency to have six windows open instead of one. Last year, a guy behind me in line yelled at a clerk, “This is why FedEx is kicking your butts! Private enterprise is always better than the government!”
Why he was not at Federal Express, I do not know. Maybe it had to do with the fact that FedEx won’t mail his Christmas card for 49 cents. But I do know you will hear more complaints about the government at the post office than anywhere else, with the possible exceptions of any department of motor vehicles location or AM radio.
I make three or four trips a week to the post office. I consider myself a professional mailer. I carefully box and label items before I mail them. I fill out any necessary forms before I get to the counter. I try to avoid going at times I know will be busy (see: Monday, any). I don’t ask to look at examples of every stamp that has been issued in the last two years before I decide which one to buy. I am friendly to the postal clerks and am on a first name basis with Lori, Sherman and Gabe.
Now, I’ve had some awful jobs. I once worked at a veterinary hospital where I cleaned cages and lugged frozen animal carcasses up stairs to the rendering truck. I worked as a janitor in an elementary school. I even worked in corporate public relations. All of those jobs would be infinitely better than working as a public servant for the postal service.
Besides the verbal abuse, postal clerks have to deal with people like the guy I saw today. At first I thought he was homeless because he was carrying an armload of bedding. Then I realized he wanted to mail it about the time he realized he might have to use a box. And tape. And a pen. I once saw a guy try to mail an unpacked backpack. I’ve seen people angrily attempt to mail packages even though they didn’t know the recipient’s address. I’ve seen grown people beg for packing tape.
If you don’t like the service at the post office, see how it is at UPS or FedEx. And don’t forget that the activities of the postal service are carefully shepherded by the customer-service and efficiency experts we call Congress.
Just don’t take it out on Gabe.