If the United States Postal Service was a real business, operating under real, non-government-subsidized conditions, it would have had to close its doors eons ago.
Several times a year, we get a disturbing clear bag placed in our mailbox containing only the cover of the one of the magazines we receive. Printed on the outside of the bag is text that says something to the effect of: "We're sorry but our automated processing system ravaged your mail beyond recognition. Now, all that's left of your magazine is its cover. Uh, sorry and stuff."
Yet somehow, the endless stream of credit card offers and pleas to borrow tens of thousands against my mortgage always seem to make it in tact.
May it never happen that you need to actually go into the post office and speak to A LIVE HUMAN BEING. At our post office, while at least 10 postal employees are milling around at all times, there are only 2-3 that are actually capable of helping anyone do anything. The best, and perhaps only, USPS advancement in its history is the automated stamp machine. Oh, and maybe the self-adhesive stamp.
And if you are there near closing time, peace be with you. I once arrived at 5:55 p.m. and at 6:05 p.m., while still in line, I was told I'd have to come back tomorrow. Then the last remaining teller pulled the Metal Screen of Death to the floor, locked up, and left.
Just tonight, I got in line at 5:40 and waited until 6:20 to ship a package. The guy two people behind me was wearing a FedEx employee badge.
"You should know better than to come here," I remarked after about 20 minutes of waiting in a line of discouraging faces that would have made the line at the DMV look like Times Square on New Years' Eve.
"Yeah, unfortunately I have to pick up a package," said the guy, still managing a smile. "These guys could learn a lot of best practices from us."
Indeed. At 5:55 tonight, one of the three open windows closed, despite a line of 12 frustrated customers negatively committed to their USPS package. Then, one of the two other window attendants announced, "I can only take debit cards here." I was waiting for the person at the last remaining open window to announce, "And I can only help people under 4 foot 11."
Our USPS branch can't correctly manage a "hold mail" order ... we are still regularly getting mail for people who lived in our house moons ago ... and to top it all off, we now get our mail delivered in a centralized postal box a block away, instead of at our door.
As a proud American, I don't think that the USPS should be allowed to carry the name Unites States anymore. It doesn't deserve it. Maybe that's why most people now simply call it by its acronym. But that's not enough. Let's change the name to the United Arab Emirates Postal Service ... or something more descriptive like: Delivery Of Packages Entirely Suspect. Then, I'd be cool with it going by its acronym.
Labels: FedEx, post office, USPS