Thursday, May 26, 2011

Post Office Rant (possibly "Post Office Rant Redux")

I haven't written anything for good ol' Fear Goggles in months (thanks for nothing, law school, your steaming pile of time-wasting horseshit!), so in my non-triumphant return I'm going to discuss something I may have already railed against in the past. But given that no one reads this blog and even if they do, they probably aren't familiar with the full body of work herein, I'm going to cover the subject anyway. Also, if you didn't know that maybe (again, I'm still not sure) I've written about this previously and only found out about it because of the last sentence, here's a special instruction: ignore the previous sentence and start anew at the next paragraph.

I was in line in the post office a few days ago to mail a package. It was about noon, which is always a busy time at the post office. However, on this day only about 5 people were in line: 2 in front of me, and two in the back.

I'd been there about a minute perhaps when I hear the following statement from the person behind me in line:

"This is what's wrong with our government. They can't do anything. How hard is it to run the post office, really? They keep raising the cost to mail, they lose your mail, the service is slow in the office and in delivery, and they are all idiots. They like using what little power they have to give you the third degree when you mail a package. I'm so sick of this stupid government-owned crap, it's a joke."

I don't know where to begin, so I'm going to fire off my key points in list format. (It's a blog--there's no rule against that).

  • First of all, just because the USPS is a government organization doesn't mean that it's useless and defective. It just means it's a government organization. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • Secondly, it's really hard to manage billions of pieces of mail for 350+ million people in one of the largest geographical areas on the planet. It's sort of a miracle that anyone ever gets their mail on time, if at all.
  • What does it cost to send a letter first class from NY to LA? Like fifty cents? Are you such a miserable cheap bastard that you feel gouged when someone carries a piece of paper for you cross country in 3 days or less for less than a dollar? If you'd never seen mail prices and someone said "How much do you think it would cost if you gave a letter to this company and had them produce it 3,000 miles away in less than three days?" your guess would probably be at least $50. So what if they raised stamps 1-cent! It's still a fucking steal and one of the few true bargains in the world! If the USPS had raised prices in accordance with inflation and gas prices, it would cost about $5 to mail a letter. But, luckily, those scumbags are owned by our shitty government (remember that point you made earlier?) and they subsidize it to keep the mail affordable for everyone. What jerks!
  • When was the last time you actually had the USPS lose your mail? Or even damage it? You probably can't remember, can you? And even if you do remember, I bet it was an isolated incident, and not a pattern of reckless abandon as you suggested.
  • Service in the post office isn't that slow. Even if you were in line at McDonald's when it's busy, you're going to be in line 5 or 10 minutes. Why is it acceptable to stand in line for a shitty manufactured sleazeburger but you can't wait more than 10 seconds to send a letter? Be consistent!
  • And the "third degree" business. You may not recall 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax scare, or the pipe bombs of the 1990s, but that's why postal workers ask what's in the package when you mail it. It's not Big Brother. It's not to be nosy or go on a power trip. It's to help make sure the mail is safe. Admittedly, if you're sending a dirty bomb in the mail and Betty Postworker asks "Is there anything liquid, chemical, or potentially hazardous in the package?" you aren't going to say, "Damn, you got me, I totally put a bomb in there; good one, Betty." But it might catch someone acting weird and it'll tip them off to scan the box before they mail it to Washington, D.C.
  • Lastly, if that's how you feel about the post office, why are you here in the first place? Why aren't you down at Fedex or UPS getting stellar customer service, speedy delivery, and rock-bottom prices? The answer is "because it costs less than a fucking dollar to send a fucking letter from fucking Kentucky to fucking Timbuktu."
You aren't entitled to first-class service just because you pay taxes. I pay taxes too, and I don't expect to get V.I.P. treatment when I mail a letter. The fact is the post office is a huge public service to us all, and we pay shockingly little to enjoy its benefits.

So if you're the asshole standing in line 30 seconds at the post office and throw a hissy fit, here's my advice: Stop being such a jerkoff, because we're all waiting patiently and you should do the same. Your time is no more important than mine, and I'm willing to wait 5 minutes to ship a package for $3 when it would cost $10 to sent it through another provider.

And if you really don't like the post office and won't back down, have Fedex or UPS deliver all your mail. See how long you want to foot that bill before you complain about waiting 3 minutes at the post office, you leech.