Monday, August 1, 2011

Goin’ Postal

Call it emailer's remorse, but I feel partially responsible for the U.S. Postal Service's billions of dollars in annual losses, especially since it may now result in the closing of a post office in my hometown.

Yet I will carry on, like any real American, and blame the messenger.

A few Aprils ago, I stood in line with dozens of others to send our long forms and short hairs to the Internal Revenue Service. Behind the counter, a clerk became increasingly frustrated with explaining the difference between certified mail, registered mail and delivery confirmation to every single person who came up to her.

"When was the last time a letter you sent got lost?" she finally let loose to one patron. "It's going to get there. It gets there every other day of the year. Why do you think it's not going to get there today?"

The only such incident I recalled in my life was about 10 years earlier when a friend of mine never received a Christmas package I sent. I had addressed it to her house, so it was possible the mail carrier left it on her doorstep and a gang of seasonal thieves snatched it before she got home from work. All I need to prove that theory is to find a medium-build female crook wearing a powder blue "What the Duck?" novelty T-shirt while using a Signals' catalog star scope to locate the constellation Corona Borealis (literally, "boring Mexican beer").

Once I tried to frame the mail service. I told a college girlfriend I was trying to break up with over the summer that her letter to me never arrived. Turns out she knew something about postal operations and had the delivery traced to my mailbox.

We dated for another five months.

Meanwhile, back at the counter, here was an obviously loyal Postal Service worker -- one who believed in the competency and efficiency of her employer -- actually trying to talk people out of giving her employer money it desperately needed.

You had to admire her honesty if not her total lack of business savvy.

When my turn came, naturally she was my clerk.

"You've convinced me," I said. "Mail these tax forms and my check first-class, period. I trust you."

"That's what I'm talking about, baby," she said.

Then she asked if I wanted to purchase the latest commemorative stamp sheet of dead people.

I regretfully declined her offer, but today it has me thinking.

What else can the Postal Service do in its hour of need besides try to convince people to pay for services they usually don't need?

That's right: Capitalize on financially lucrative children's fads.

I don't know a single person who collects stamps, but the Things are always hounding me for the latest trendy "collectible" that they'll discard in six months.

WebKinz stuffed animals, then the WebKinz archrival, the NeoPets.

Pokemon cards and Bakugan tops.

Briefly, it was Silly Bandz, which are colorful rubber bracelets in the shape of animals or objects -- one of which, naturally, is a dollar sign. We have a few thousand of these regularly clogging up vacuum cleaners and plumbing (usually the dog’s).

Whatever the next Pet Rock is, the U.S. Postmaster General immediately needs to put its likeness onto postage stamps. Cha-CHING! Instant revenue in the USPS's coffers as parents and grandparents must fork it over or face ear-splitting tantrums.

Also, just think of the economic ripple effect it will have on our country's ailing tweezers and magnifying glass industries.

16 comments:

  1. I just heard the post office in my hometown is closing. Sure seems weird.

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  2. Funny post, I loved it! I just got back a Xmas card last week that said "Return to Sender". What is it about Xmas? I used to send packages to my sisters all the time until they started charging $10 instead of $5. I quit sending stuff.

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  3. They should serve expensive coffee and scones like Starbucks. I mean, when I'm waiting in a line of 20 people, with only one postal clerk working, it would be nice to have something socially acceptable to do.

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  4. My husband and I went to a Mailboxes Etc in our town in Ireland to send our taxes to the IRS in Texas. We were quoted 75 euros, about $108. We dragged our jaws off of the counter and about 10 blocks down to the post office where it was only 5 euros or $7.50 which was still horrific but much better than $108! Makes me miss my old, small town post office in the States...crappy collector stamps and all!

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  5. You gotta file that shit online, dude!

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  6. I used to collect stamps as a kid. It started with a stamp on an envelope that arrived from Australia. I then gathered a collection of a few hundred stamps dating back to the 19th century. I just handed them all over to The Girl, hoping that she'll keep them until one day she hands them over to her kid. I have no idea what they're worth, or what to do with them except take them out ever once and awhile and say, "man these things are old."

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  7. I used to work in a postal office in the Netherlands in the stamp collecting department. Our job was to paste stamps on special collectors' envelopes. It was tedious work. All of the stamps had to be placed at perfect right angles. We had a couple employees who up and quit because they couldn't handle the stress of getting the stamps on there just right. I have deep respect for anyone who works in such an environment. It was a weird experience.

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  8. HA! I have a tab on my blog called going postal in which I detail all the "fun" stuff about being a postal worker. :) Really, I do.

    As for your post office closing, here's the thing... it's going no where soon. Closures will happen slowly, we have one that's on the list, and has been for four years. It's no closer to closing it's doors than it was 4 years ago. Yes. The PO is broke. But it's run by congress, so really, is anyone surprized? AND the only reason it's still running in the red is because the gov. won't allow for a lapse of payments towards future retirement benifits. Why? Because the government has no idea where that retirement fund went that we've paid trillions into.

    Most PO's will remain unless there are multiples in a town. (We have 7 here) and even then, when it all comes down to it, each town will most likely keep at least one of it's offices. And don't forget, closing offices will avoid layoffs, as it's easier to reassign the staff in offices slowly, then say, stop Saturday delivery, which would put apx 100,000 people (including me) on unemployment within days.

    OK. I've rambled enough. :)

    But those ideas for marketing and stamps... Genius! Now if only we could get the 80% of people under 18 that have never even touched a stamp, to do so... we'd be in the black in no time. :)

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  9. Bijoux's comment made forget what this whole post was about. I'm sure it was fun and funny but damn, that Bijoux is awesome.

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  10. Neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night..... Rather our elementary school, which does not think the kids need to learn cursive any more, will bring about the end of letters and post offices.

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  11. I am starting to understand the lack of money the USPS has to hire competent workers. I mail packages to Ireland and Scotland regularly and amazingly they can never find Scotland until I explain that it is part of Great Britain/United Kingdom and they insist for at least 10 minutes that I need a street address for country residences in Ireland.

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  12. Thanks, Cheryl, for enjoying my sense of humor!

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  13. So did you get that huge box of gifts and goodies I sent you from India? No? Damn that postal service.....

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  14. Somewhere in New York, a Newman is screaming.

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