I took care of my holiday mailing this week, extremely early in the season for me, so I was surprised by how much of a cluster *bleep* it was at my beloved PO. Really, how do they justify how poorly run the postal service is? If it was a restaurant, a night out would go something like this:
You walk in the door and immediately join a line that you can’t quite tell where it leads. It’s that long. There’s no sign of an employee, so what else can you do?
Finally you round a corner and can see the hostess stand, the tables, the food. No hostess but…whatever. It seems people are slowly getting seated anyway.
Eons later, when you’re at your table at last, you wait for another eternity for the one waitress on duty to show up. She eventually stops by with water and a basket of bread. You comment on the lack of staff and she rolls her eyes and says, “Budget. Staff cuts.”
You noticed that their prices are all higher than the last time you were here and wonder why they can’t make their increases cover their costs, but say nothing because, frankly, the waitress is beyond harried.
Before ordering, you ask if you could have some ice in your water and some butter for your bread.
“We’re not allowed to give those away unless you’re a priority customer, but I can sell you some of both,” she tells you. You need butter on your bread so you nod, then insist on ordering before she rushes off because you know it’ll be another half hour before you see her again.
When you order a cocktail, she informs you the bar isn’t open today. You check the menu, where the restaurant’s hours are listed. It says nothing about separate bar hours. “We don’t have enough people to offer all our services today,” she explains. You settle for ordering food – your stomach walls are beginning to collapse in hunger by now – and pray it shows up before you fall unconscious.
A woman who looks authority-ish is standing around, trying to keep people calm and happy. Every once in a while she mentions the vending machines in the hallway, suggesting it might be a little faster. One begins to wonder why she doesn’t put on an apron and get to work.
Since she doesn’t seem to have anything better to do, you gesture her over to the table to ask if your food is going to be out any time soon. She asks when you ordered it. You tell her 40 minutes ago. She nods disinterestedly and says, “It’ll get here. We don’t guarantee when but it should be here…sometime.”
You begin to wonder if you could’ve paid extra for a guaranteed, say, one-hour delivery?
At long last, your food arrives…a little on the coldish side. When you ask why it’s cold, you’re informed that it came up at the waitress’s break time. Couldn’t be helped. By law, she had to take a break THEN, never mind what was happening with business.
As you drive home after eating your mediocre, cold, overpriced meal, you realize it would indeed be preferable next time to cook your own 7-course meal, from scratch, without electricity, just as it would be easier to drive a parcel to, say, Toronto, and then another one to the other side of Wisconsin than it would be to suffer through the post office at holiday time.
My wish for you this December is that you can make do with the post office “vending machines” (automated mailing machines), avoid the lines, and actually somehow maintain the joy of the season. Your work is cut out for you. J