Taking the Service out of Postal Service

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Due to a strange confluence of occurrences, I’ve had to mail three items in 2011.  And I mean actual mail, like from the guy that comes to your house every day and gives you useless advertising inserts and credit card offers.  This probably nearly doubles my postal missives for the 21 century.

On my first trip to the post office I needed to send a letter and, having not sent a letter since the first Bush was president, I had no stamps and would require procuring proper postage (that, boys and girls, is called alliteration, so suck it).  I went to my usual post office at Belmont and Greenville and searched for the stamp machine. I don’t think I’m retarded, but I could not find a one.  Giving up on my search, I then proceeded to the counter.  Surprisingly for a quasi-governmental office,  there was very little wait.

“Where did the stamp machines go?”, I asked.

“I don’t know.  They just took them out a little while ago.  No one knows why.”, the postal clerk replied.

Asking for and receiving my postage, I was on my way.

On my second trip, I knew the drill, and headed straight for clerk.  This time there wasn’t another soul in line.  Which is surprising because of all the ruckus when it was suggested recently that this post office be closed to curb costs. If you’re going to bitch about the gumming closing your favorite post office, shouldn’t you swing by every day for a stamp just so the place looks busy?

Today I once again needed to make a quick (let me be clear about the quick par, I just needed a stamp) stop at the post office.  Although my previous experiences at my ZIP’s post office had been pleasant, I was on my way to the Whole Foods in Lakewood and figured I would check that one out.  Maybe the high-toned denizens of Lakewood would insist on a stamp machine.

I was correct, sort of.

Instead of a simple stamp machine, which I believe at least 90% of the people needing something from the post office would find satisfactory, I was confronted with an automated postal kiosk.  And, of course, there was a line.  Regrettably it was a shorter line than the one leading to an actual living clerk.

So, after what seemed to be a good five minutes (remember I just want a stamp for a letter) I finally made my way to the kiosk.

“What do you need to mail?” it asked

All I need is a stamp, so I pick “First Class Letter”.

“What kind of letter are you sending?”

Well this was a confusing question.  I had previously selected first class letter, so why does it need this additional information?  After all, all I want is a stamp.  Have I mentioned that?  Anyway, not really knowing what to tell it, I picked “Bendable rectangle” or somesuch.

“Do you want confirmation on receipt of this letter?”

“NO!  I Just want a fucking stamp!”

“You have selected a first class stamp for $0.64.  The minimum charge to your card is $1.00.  Would you like an additional stamp for $0.46?

“YES!!!! Please give me my fucking stamp?”

“Please confirm you purchase.”

“YES!!!! For fuck sake.”

Then, after about 20 seconds of whirling and clicking, two stamps emerged.  My long nightmare at the Lakewood Post Office was over.  It only cost me $1 and about 10 minutes of my life for a stamp.

Thank US Postal Service.

1 Comment

  1. Once you have used them once or twice, the new machines are actually pretty quick and painless, although the $1 minimum is annoying if you just need one stamp. I had a fun experience with the machine at Lovers/Greenville. There was a huge line plus a postal employee at the machine to push the buttons so the line would actually move… brilliant!Even better postal story? I needed to mail a package and went to the post office on Coit near my house. Customer service doesn't open until 10, but I always use the machine, so who cares. I got there around 09:15, went through the rigamarole on the machine, and then tried to put my package in the drop box. To my chagrin, it was stuck. Someone had tried to mail back their directv receiver, which was obviously too big. They hadn't even taped shut the box, so one of the flaps managed to get wedged in the mechanism and I couldn't even pull it out. I could hear the postal workers talking as they put mail in the PO boxes, so I shouted my story to them and one came out to get my package. She dropped the f-bomb and several other choice words as she examined and tried to remove that idiot's handiwork.

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