Saturday, June 10, 2017


A couple of days ago a friend and I stopped by the local Post Office while we were out for a walk. She needed one stamp. There was no simple stamp machine in the lobby, just an automated kiosk that had a very slow and confused woman trying to figure it out and then another woman who just cut in front of us. So, into the area where they have actual postal clerks to serve the customers. I use the word “serve” in its most loose definition. This post office has five clerk/cashier stations plus a counter for transactions that do not require payments. How many postal workers were on duty? One. A second clerk came out while we were in line but he took forever to get settled and finally open his station. A couple of trips to the back room, adjustments to his stool and general rearrangement of the work area. 

There was also who I assume was a postal maintenance worker with a ladder. He had a fluorescent light fixture cover/diffuser opened. He was staring intently into the fixture. He eventually determined that his ladder was about 6" out of place. Back down to the floor, move the ladder a couple of times and then back up to stare some more. We thought he was going to replace a bulb although they appeared to be woking fine. Eventually, after considerable study, Mr. Fixit grabbed a sign and began to attach it to the light fixture. It was a sign to hang over one of the clerk's stations. It said something like passports applications here. As soon as the one clerk on duty saw the sign, she left her post to talk to Mr. Fixit. It was a rather long conversation, all the time there were no postal customers being served. Eventually, the maintenance guy went back up the ladder, closed the light cover, folded his ladder, grabbed the sign, and left, mumbling all the way. The clerk went back to her post.

What makes this whole scenario even more frustrating is that I had seen a sign taped to the door when we went into the post office that said no passport applications would be taken until some date in the future. I think it said June 19th, this was on June 6th. Apparently, the maintenance department and the passport department were not on the same page. 
Did I mention that none of the movements by the clerks or maintenance guy were approaching the speed of light?

We were finally next in line, a line that only had three or four people in front of us when we arrived. As I mentioned, my walking partner needed one (1) stamp. The clerk had to separate that stamp from a sheet of stamps. Another very slow process. It was paid for with a USA one dollar bill. That of course still required making change and providing a receipt. A very detailed and long receipt. Maybe they are in competition with CVS for longest receipt for smallest purchase. It ultimately took about 15 minutes to purchase a stamp. That's with only three or four people in front of us in the middle of a midweek morning. 

As you can see, the receipt is probably 30 times bigger than the stamp we bought. This is a half book of stamps I had at home, not the single stamp we bought.  

The USPS was made into an independent agency as opposed to a straight government service. They are supposed to pay their own way and compete with UPS, FedEx, and others. They continue to bleed money. Why, because Congress is the board of directors and continues to micromanage the USPS. The other reason is the government, civil service mentality of the employees and management. 

Since I've retired, I rarely get in a hurry or upset about much. I don't mind getting in a long line at a store or waiting for a meal at a restaurant, within reason. I usually don't mind dealing with a trainee or a less than proficient employee. The one thing that sets me off is when I come across people who move at the speed of a slug. They usually have a hangdog posture and look like they want to be anyplace except at work. You all know or have run across these people. They are the ones who can turn a 10 minute task into a full day's work. Even if it's wasted or useless movement, do it quickly or at least at normal speed. 

Walk briskly as if you have a destination and a schedule. Move like you have a purpose. 

The USPS semi-privatisation hasn't worked. Will the same plan for the air traffic controllers work any better? Only if they shake the government rules and attitude. 

If you have a need to go to the main Bedford, TX post office, plan a little extra time. 


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