Wednesday, August 19, 2009

going postal on the wrong side of the counter...

My father is the greatest father in the world. Much like his father before him, he's a letter writer and a traveller. And everywhere my father travels, he's got to buy a postcard and mail it to me. He could find himself in Modesto and the man will still send me a postcard. He calls them Dad-O-Grams. I get Dad-O-Grams once a week. Which is how I ended up spending 45 minutes screaming at the post office(s) this morning.
I'd received one of those peach-colored post office notes in my mailbox. Apparently, a sender in Oregon had failed to put enough postage on a letter and I needed to appear at the post office with my identification and 20 cents. How long could this possibly take, I wondered, and headed over to the Bryant Street Post Office Annex on my way to work, as directed by my peach-colored note.
Postal employees seem to have all the time in the world. Picking up a letter, you say? Well they'll need to place their pen on their desk, push their chair back, slowly stand up, take your little peach-colored note, turn around, walk to the back, chat with some colleagues, check for any updates on the bulletin board, casually graze through some bundles of mail...why hustle? We've got all day!
"You owe us money." The charmer behind the counter informed me, without looking up. "You've got to go across the street."
So I walked down the block and across the street into the regular post office.
"You owe us money." I was informed.
"Yes. I know. 20 cents." I held 2 dimes in my hand.
He placed his pen on the desk, pushed his chair back, slowly stood up, turned around, looked in a bucket of mail behind him, wandered to a closet in the back, looked through some mail in there and then disappeared for 10 minutes.
Time ticked away and I got further and further away from making it to work on time. I placed my gigantic bag on the counter and loudly sighed, as if that would suddenly prompt everyone to leap into action. Finally, "Pompey" returned.
I am not making up that his name is Pompey, by they way. His nametag proudly proclaimed "Pompey" and he wrote it down on my peach-colored note.
"We don't have it." Pompey informed me. "They never brought it over here. You need to go across the street. Tell them Pompey couldn't find it."
"I've just come from there."
"I know." Pompey couldn't have cared less. "You've got to go back."
Obviously, the second I appeared across the street, I'd be told I needed to pay this goddamn 20 cents to Pompey. Monetary exchanges did not happen in the Annex. "Well, can I just give you this money?"
"You want to buy stamps?"
No, I don't want to buy stamps. I want to get on with my life.
Pompey and I finally figured out that if I bought 20 cents worth of stamps, I could bring my stamps to the Annex and get this mysterious piece of mail which according to him, was still over there.
I bought the stamps and headed back across the street.
"They said you have it." I announced.
"I don't have it!" The woman managed to look up from her desk this time, finding my tone accusatory.
I explained that her pal Pompey said my letter was still over here and produced the peach-colored note with his version of the events.
"What about the money?!?!?!"
I slammed down two 10-cent stamps.
"Well now I have to go look for it."
You're goddamn right you have to go look for it. Jesus Christ, am I the only one here to grasp the concept of the Unites States Postal Service? A beautiful woman in a suit stood at the counter next to me.
"My God!" I said. "I'm about to go postal!"
"This place is ridiculous." We commiserated for another 15 minutes. "What's she doing back there? Seriously! This is all over 20 cents!"
Pompey's colleague finally returned. "Did you receive a wooden postcard?"
"Excuse me?"
"DID YOU RECEIVE A WOODEN POSTCARD?"
"NO I DID NOT RECEIVE A WOODEN POSTCARD."
I was given a long song and dance about the postal worker who tried to deliver the wooden postcard and his work schedule which conflicted with my work schedule.
"Can I just leave you these stamps and when you find the wooden postcard..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." She said. "We'll mail it to you."
"Thanks a million!!!" I screamed and stormed out.
Racing to work, I wondered who the hell would send me a wooden postcard from Oregon. And then I remembered my parents' recent sojourn to a National Park in Oregon with a charming hotel they deemed historical. I raised my fist as I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and exclaimed, "Damn you, Dad-O-Gram!"
That being said, wooden postcard? Neat!

6 comments:

jfbf said...

Ah, the post office. I'm sure the handle a million bajillion tons of mail every day, and I'm sure their percentage rates of actually doing their jobs are very high... all that said, I don't think I've ever been anywhere where there is more disregard for the customer. What? It's 1pm in the financial district, and there are 15 people in line? Well, it's time for 2 of the 4 postal workers to take a lunch break! What, you wanted specific stamps that are in the glass display case? Nope, we don't sell those today! How about some wedding ring stamps? They're very nice! They say love! It will be fine!
The last time I was in a post office, I heard a customer challenging the postal worker over something dumb (the customer was wrong, actually). She kept saying "are you sure? Are you really sure?" Finally the postal worked said "Oh, I went to POSTAL COLLEGE! I'm SURE!"
Postal college? Is there such a thing? Maybe they learn the attitude there...

Greg said...

that facility has always been problematic..the branch on irving street is really good, rated one of the best and most secure places for mail in the city.

Anonymous said...

Not a single metion of this...http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/08/19/BAQB19ABLQ.DTL

I thought for sure!

Anonymous said...

But , hey, I'm sure government run health care will be WAY better than the Post Office...

Karyn said...

Here in Massachusetts you can literally be the rudest, stupidest person on the face of the earth - but if you have a "state" job you can not be fired... so all the state jobs go to "family members" of the other "staties"... I especially love it when they decide to do an expose and follow the state landscapers who work a total of 90 minutes in their 8 hours shift - but can't be fired.

kwk said...

Perhaps the USPS just doesn't like wooden postcards, thus the workers take pleasure in their ability to harrass. Few years back, same thing, get peach-colored 'payment due' note, trot over to that little PO under the Potrero Center, guy finds slip of wood. It was properly weighed, paid for and stamped by the PO in Hawaii. Didn't owe anything. He handed it over and grinned.
Looked at the wooden sliver (a surfboard or outrigger paddle or something), has scribbled on it "Hi".
Felt like the end of "Sirens of Titan," the Tralfamador word "greetings."