Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Post Office

Today I'm going to rant a bit.

I think post offices are like airports. People instantly get dumber just by entering them.

I went to the post office the other day to mail a small package. While standing in line, I made several observations. In the end, I realized that none of my observations were new. I've made them all before. Each time I visit the post office. That makes me wonder if others see the same things. I wonder if I'm just hypersensitive. The way we get when something annoys us, then we start to see it everwhere, even when it's barely there.

The customers appear to fall into a few categories: the one's who've never been to a post office before, the old people who are so lonely they appear to be lingering so they can have conversation with a live person for that day, the immigrants who barely understand english, the indecisive ones who are usually in front of us at McDonalds or Starbucks, and the few who know what we want and want to get it done quickly and leave.

Mind you, all of the above are negatively influenced by factors such as: the non-existent incentives in the postal workers for productivity or customer satisfaction, and the large fraction of postal workers who have limited English skills.

One young gen-Yer male was perplexed that the post office didn't offer the ability to track the exact location of his parcel at all times. Apparently he thinks the post office is competing with FedEx or UPS.

Another young man lacked the English skills to effectively express his interests, resulting in an odd scene playing out as he and the postal worker batted back and forth different words until they indicated that each was satisfied that understanding had been achieved.

Most customers were there for the same thing: to mail something and buy some stamps. The postal workers perform their lines from the script with listless boredom: do you want to mail it first class, do you want tracking, do you want delivery confirmation, would you like to buy some stamps, etc. The customers predictably respond with confusion and indecision. This boggles my mind. I'd like to pull them aside and say: You've been in line as long as the rest of us. You've been listening to this script for at least 10 minutes. You've probably been to a post office before. Why aren't you prepared for these questions? This is easier than driving a car, and yet somehow you drove yourself here!

They've been closing post offices in my area for the past many years. The one I visited is small and doesn't have any self service kiosks. That would have made my visit much easier.

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