Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FOR-EV-ER Stamps.

Newman: Oh, calm down everyone. No one's cancelling any mail.
Kramer: Oh, yes I am.
Newman: What about your bills?
Kramer: The bank can pay 'em.
Newman: The bank. What about your cards and letters?
Kramer: E-mail, telephones, fax machines. Fedex, telex, telegrams, holograms.
Newman: All right, it's true! Of course nobody needs mail. What do you think, you're so clever for figuring that out? But you don't know the half of what goes on here. So just walk away, Kramer. I beg of you.

Recent news that the US Postal Service is struggling with $9 Billion worth of debt can't really come as a surprise to anyone who has ever waited in line at the Post Office. In the time that it took me to buy a book of stamps (27 minutes) I was able to figure out what seems to be escaping the higher-ups at the USPS: Postal Employees are no dummies. These workers understand that the mail NEVER stops. If they were to move at a rate that kept up with demand, they'd have one really long-ass difficult workday, everyday. They know that no matter how slowly they move, people will still come. It's actually a brilliant little system they've worked out for themselves. Except the whole part about the inefficiency bankrupting the entire Postal Service.

In the 27-minutes I waited to buy stamps, four customers were served. This was one exchange I overheard:
Customer: Hi, I was in here yesterday. Do you remember me?
Postal Employee: (Taking her time like examining a line-up) That box you're holding looks familiar. And so do you.
Customer: OK, because I wanted to send this to California, you see? To this address? But it arrived at my house today.
Postal Employee: (Slowly got out of her seat like she'd been dipped in wet cement. Picked up the box and examined all six sides of it. Took off her glasses, looked at stickers, put her glasses on, tapped her fingers on the box)
Me: [Blank Stare.]
Postal Employee: Sir, what's happened is that you wanted to send this box to this address here, but they've actually sent it to your return address. They sent this to you.
Me: [Deep Breath.]
Customer: Yes, that's exactly what happened.
Postal Employee: So would you still like it sent to California?
Customer: Please.

To his credit, he was very, very patient.
I think the only way to calmly wait at the Post Office is to assume that you're being filmed for some sort of John Quinones Primetime special.

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