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Post office lunch hour

September 8, 2009

I tried to mail something at the post office today. During my lunch hour. You can imagine how well that worked out for me.

If ever there was an argument for resisting nationalized healthcare, the U.S. Postal Service is it.

When I walked in they had two people manning six windows. This is the main downtown post office for the city of Reno, so one would think they’d have more than two windows manned during lunchtime, right? Because it’s busy then? And they want to maximize convenience for their customers?

If it was my business, or your business, we’d have six people manning six windows and a couple more out front helping customers find the correct packaging, and showing them how to make boxes, and answering questions, right? If we didn’t have that many customer service people, we’d grab office people from the back and send them out front to help, right?

That’s how private business thinks.

But the Post Office does not have a private business mentality (in spite of decades spent privatizing). A quarter century after leaving government subsidies behind they still have a government mentality, which is a different mentality altogether—an evil, lethargic, lackadaisical, to-hell-with-you-I-get-paid-whether-you’re-happy-or-not mentality.

You only have to watch them in action to realize you don’t want people with that mentality cutting you open down at the hospital or diagnosing your chest pain. Remember the story about the hospital in England which refused an ambulance request from a woman in labor, telling her she had to walk to the hospital, so she set off walking and ended up having her baby on the sidewalk? That’s what you get when you put the post office mentality in charge of healthcare.

That’s what you get when government bureaucrats run anything.

When I arrived, the line I encountered at the post office was out the door. I groaned as soon as I saw it, thinking, “There goes my lunch hour.” But I manfully waded into the lobby and started looking for an appropriate box to mail my brother-in-law’s glasses to him.

More bad news, there were plenty of big boxes and lots of tiny little boxes but no box that was appropriate for a pair of glasses in a case—so let’s add “keeping the packaging supplies stocked” to the list of stuff we’d have our people doing if it was our business.

Now I was looking at standing in that long line just to get to a window so I could ask where the boxes were, whereupon I would have to take the box given to me, do my own packaging, and then get back in the line to mail it. That wasn’t going to happen in a lunch hour—maybe not in two lunch hours.

As I stood there doing mental calculus on the line speed multiplied by the number of people in line, just for the sake of idle curiosity about how many centuries it would take to mail my brother-in-law’s damn glasses to him, I saw a third person come out to open a window.

“Glory be, maybe there’s hope!” I thought.

That’s when one of the original two said to the new one, “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be on vacation.”

“I am? Are you sure?”

“Let’s go look.”

And then both of them walked off into the back to check the vacation schedule, leaving one person to wait on everybody.

It takes two people to check a vacation schedule? And you couldn’t wait until the lunchtime crush was over before telling her she was supposed to be on vacation?

As I watched the people in line exchange incredulous looks, I realized how oddly appropriate the initials for Post Office are, given all the Pissed Off customers.

So anyway, I still have my damn brother-in-law’s damn glasses. Maybe I’ll toss them to a soldier heading east on a Greyhound bus—probably get there faster that way anyway.



From Reno, Nevada, USA

September 10, 2009 - Not to worry. I mailed them to my president and he informed me that he would get them to your brother-in-law..with the quickness!!!!!!!!! - G.G., Nevada

September 9, 2009 - The U.S. Post Office is not a government agency—although you wonder sometimes. However, for 5 years, I have been covered by MediCare, which is a government agency, and I have found no fault with them. - Guerry, Tennessee
J.P. replies: I know the post office was privatized, but apparently the president doesn't, since he used the post office as an example of a government agency while trying to sell the idea of government health insurance. As for Medicare, I'm glad it works for you, but keep in mind you aren't on the receiving end—the doctor waiting two months to get paid for treating you might have a different opinion.

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