Going Postal: February 7, 2012

Going Postal
February 7, 2012

I once heard a rumor that the post office was a boring place.  That rumor actually came from me: I spread it every time I walk into a post office, and I confirmed that rumor yesterday when I had to mail twenty newspaper articles.  The post office has become a place that I dread visiting, right up there with the DMV and the houses of strangers who give out candy to children (which might also be the DMV).  Of course, the post office should be harmless enough: you go in, you drop something off and you get out of there before even MIA has the chance to give you the finger.  But it just doesn't work that way...

Time seems to stop at the post office.  In every post office I have ever visited, no one ever seems to be in a hurry to help, and even the customers seem to move in slow motion.  Typically I have to check my cell phone multiple times while in line to make sure time did not stop.  The possibility of time stopping would also justify why many senior citizens hang out at post offices.  Otherwise I can't explain why so many seniors have the need to mail packages all over the country, unless they believe the 'e' in e-mail stands for "eventual."  When I finally do get to the front of the post office line, I am always met with a series of questions by the clerk, who seems to be determining whether I am even worthy of mailing something...

"You can't mail these," I was told yesterday.

This statement was followed by a long pause and a head scratch until I asked, "Why is that?"

"Well, you would have to put these articles into an envelope.  We can't mail them otherwise," he replied, as if I was oblivious to this whole "envelope" thing.  I was, after all, at the post office.  I was there not only to mail something but also to get one of these so-called "envelopes." Once he explained the rules, he then told me to fill out the envelope and gave me permission to walk to the front of the line once I did so -- an opportunity I did not utilize because I did not want to be called a "cutter" by the others in line (seriously, though, that is why I didn't go to the front).

"Do you want this first, second or third day mail?" I was then asked, as I am typically asked at the post office.

"Take your time," I will typically reply. "It just has to be postmarked today."

"Well, it will get there faster if we send it next-day delivery, priority, super speed," I am told -- or at least something like that, which is basically code for "We are trying to charge you extra money."

After agreeing to the Superman speed, I am then always asked if I want to pay for a confirmation on the delivery.  This is the post office's way of telling people that we should not necessarily trust it, so we should check to make sure the package or envelope was actually delivered and received.  This is much like a dentist asking, "Do you want to add confirmation on that cavity filling to make sure we did it right?"

The truth is, I guess I don't completely trust the post office: the place that makes time stop and can somehow make mailing envelopes seem like dissecting a brain.  Somehow, I will admit, pretty much everything I have ever sent via mail does arrive at its destination, but I do feel some guilt about not mailing everything first class.  I know that my letters sometimes need the extra leg space...

But I digress.


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