One Thousand Words on The Post Office

I have one of those dangerous sedentary jobs. You know, the ones that they now say will kill you. Unless I’m out at a meeting, I’m pretty much just sitting at a desk. And let’s face it, meetings aren’t exactly action packed either. Just more sitting.

What’s worse, my desk in a small office. I can’t even get some exercise by walking to the copy machine or coffee pot because they are only three steps away.

So even though I’m “the boss” and have the most seniority, I always walk over to the post office and get the mail. It’s not really all that far away, but at least it’s something.

This blog is about the post office, not about losing a year of your life for every fifteen minutes you sit at a desk, or whatever that study found.

A few weeks ago, there was a new sign posted beside the door of our post office. It caught my eye because it had a big QR code on it. The sign said “Scan to find the post office location nearest you.”

Now I applaud the post office for wanting to be up to date. And I don’t have anything against QR codes. But who in their right mind thought that sign belonged on a post office door? Why would someone want to find a post office when they are standing on the front steps of one?

It’s not like it would be helpful to find another post office if this one was closed. Most post offices have the same hours. After five o’clock, you are out of luck. Scanning the QR code isn’t going to help other than tell you where else you couldn’t buy a stamp after hours.

It would make more sense to have those signs on the blue mailboxes that sit on the sidewalk. Maybe you’re going to mail a letter and notice that you need a stamp. You scan the code and find the nearest post office.

But I can’t think of one single instance where I would be standing in front of a post office and want to find the next nearest one. Can you?

Our post office is pretty busy, at least compare to some of the other tiny post offices in our area. It has three windows, usually only two of them are open, and certain times of the day there’s a line out the door.

I’ve learned to avoid those high traffic time because no matter how busy it is and how long the line, the post office workers move at the same speed. They just ignore the line and chug along.

In a way I envy their ability to do that. I’ve worked a lot of retail and if there was a long line at the register, I would feel the need to hurry. Luckily I’m the type of person who works well under pressure, so I wasn’t more prone to mistakes if I was hurrying.

But I worked with people who would get very nervous if there were a lot of customers. They’d try to speed up and get flustered, miscounting change or forgetting to charge for items.

I think the desire to move faster is natural when you know people are waiting for you. They must really enforce the one speed rule in post office employee training. Maybe they tell them to just forget about the line and to simply pay attention to the customer in front of them.

Or maybe they tell them the Rabbit and The Hare fable. I can just picture the posters in the break room: “Slow and steady wins the race at the post office.”

Even though they are slow, the workers at my post office are very nice. They always call me by name (it helps that it’s on the mail) and even remember my box number when I pick up a package.

Once, years ago our box office person accidentally put our night deposit bank bag (with the deposit in it) in the mailbox on the sidewalk in front of the building.

I’m still not quite sure how she did that, but I’m thinking she had the mail in one hand, the deposit in the other and just got mixed up.

It was after the last pick up and the post office was closed (and they didn’t have that handy QR sign so I couldn’t find the next closest post office) so we left it overnight.

The next morning I went to the post office to explain what happened. I fully expected that they would tell me there was nothing they could do. We had mailed the bag and it would be against federal law for them to return it to us.

I was hoping that it would end up at the bank and we could retrieve it there.

But when I told them what happened, one of the guys grabbed some keys and walked back with me to the mailbox. He opened it up, picked our bank bag out and handed it to me.

Their willingness and ability to help was a pleasant surprise.

My very favorite thing about the post office, though, is the little lockers they have for packages.

For some reason, they don’t seem to use them for our oversized mail every often. They make us go to the counter to pick it up.

But once in a while I open the box and there’s a little orange key in there, with a number on it.

I always feel like I’ve hit the jackpot when I see that key. It has nothing to do with the package. We get packages all the time. I just love finding the locker, fitting the key in the lock and swinging the little door up to see what’s inside.

I wonder if I can request that are packages are put in a locker every time. But then I wouldn’t get to stand in line and watch how slowly the employees move.

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