Hate Mail

Every time I figure we’ve exhausted the resentment out there against the Post Office, more of you write with invaluable insights, observations or knowledge. 

Mr. Anonymous exemplifies that last:

As a postal worker I’d like to disagree with your comments, 

Yeah, I rolled my eyes at that, too, but stick with him. What follows is not the “neither-rain-nor-snow-nor-gloom-of-night” twaddle you’re expecting:

but it’s pretty hard to. You don’t know the half of what goes on behind the scenes. Lazy, indifferent employees who know there’s no discipline for shoddy work; supervisors who are in the dark about the simplest things they should know about moving mail; outrageous and consistent delays of mail that no one’s really concerned about; etc.

There are some hard-working, devoted postal workers out there. And the smaller the town the better the service, usually. Big city postal workers are often exemplars of federal bureaucrats in action.

One thing that needs correction, though: Fed Ex and UPS use the USPS for end delivery because they can’t make any money on delivering to sparsely populated areas, whereas the post office is mandated to do so.

 I asked this atypical postal employee,

Why the P.O.? Graduate school in the humanities prepared me for nothing useful in the real world other than teaching, and for several reasons I dropped out. One reason was that it was glaringly obvious that white guys stood little chance to get teaching positions, at least from what I could see. When two professorships opened at my university only women and a black candidate made the cut to be interviewed on campus, out of hundreds of applicants. The writing was on the wall.

OK, but why is he still there?

The reason to stick around the P.O. was that it offered good pay and security, something humanities students are rarely offered. It’s rationalizing, I know. Starting over in another field at the age I was hired by the P.O. would have been a travail indeed, with student loans and children on the way knocking at the door.

Next, Michael agrees with

the most recent blog post about how people wax on about the early 20th century PO, but today they’re cramped, dirty (they ARE!), and dismal places. It’s so true. Those places are DISGUSTING! Both my wife and I felt sick after standing in line for an hour and a half. A UPS store is a palace compared to them, and far more ubiquitous.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that the Boomers <3 <3 <3 their Post Office. 

Hmmm. I had to look that one up. For those nerds as uncool as I, “<3” represents a heart; a row of them means the serfs really, really love the PO. Go figure.

Like everything they mostly like, it’s garbage and preventing something actually BETTER from manifesting. Stuck with the crappier version of things because it’s familiar to them and they want tomorrow to be just like yesterday.

While waiting in the long snaking line, a boomer came over and went to his PO box. He asked if it was the line. I said it was to pick up packages and he said “Boy, that’s long.” Then he said, “Still, you know, I’ve lived in other places around the world, and this is one of the best.” With some smug satisfaction.

So irrational! What does his residing there have to do with the PO’s performance or lack thereof? But this is the sort of moron who maintains a staunch double-standard for Leviathan: so long as the beast doesn’t kill him, he’ll tolerate or even praise “service” from it that would have him screaming at and suing a private company. As Michael says,

It’s ridiculous. I lived in China for a few years and there are about half a dozen competing delivery companies there. If you needed something sent, you could call them and within 30 minutes they would COME GET YOUR PACKAGE for you, fill out the address and packing slip, put it in a bag (and later in a box) for you, and take it away. I could mail a freaking guitar from the equivalent of Miami to Minnesota, have it arrive in 3 days for the equivalent of $5. It’d be more compared to the cost of living there, but still. The service alone was unbelievable.

Darien Sumner notes,

Where I live (in rural Alaska), we have a “contract branch” of the USPS, which is to say: a private business that buys a USPS franchise to handle our area. For some things, though, we’re obligated to go into the city to the “real” post office to get them dealt with.

The difference is stark. At the “contract branch,” service is quick and pleasant, and, if you have any problems, they’re solved at a reasonable speed. At the real post office, though — which is a giant concrete bunker containing a single, unfurnished waiting room with a window at one end, and is papered with signs warning the serfs about all the laws they’re probably breaking just being there — the staff is typically sullen and unhelpful, serves exactly one customer at a time irrespective of how busy it is, and, should you have any problems, well, God help you; the employees certainly won’t.

It still surprises me after all these years just how remarkable a difference it really is.

A Patriot in Louisiana hasn’t

been inside the Post Office in at least five years. On my final visit at least ten “customers” were waiting in line. There were five windows but only two were open. We all stood there rolling our eyes, waiting for our turn. At that point one of the USPS “employees” shut his window, without a word, and disappeared into the back. The remaining employee took her time and never even acknowledged the inconvenience. An apology for this? Forget it.

I soon thereafter began utilizing a local, privately-owned business. It is a drop-off and pick-up location for UPS, FedEx, and other shipping services. Interestingly, it also handles USPS mail. They sell stamps, but with an extra charge. Believe me, to avoid going to the Post Office it is worth every dime. I’ve gotten to know the wonderful staff and the owner always comes out for a brief word…

And finally, a gentleman in North Carolina has 

been ordering filters and eyepieces for my telescope lately and what I’ve noticed, especially with UPS, is that the order will get to my local post office in 2-3 days but USPS takes at least another 3 days to get it to the house. I could literally drive to New Jersey (one vendor location), pick it up, drive back home, and have it 4 days before it gets here in the mail.  Our town is only about 5-6000 people so we’re not talking about massive amounts of mail here.  Then when it does come the postal worker just lobs it up on the porch, if it can’t be jammed into our mailbox, without even alerting anyone to their presence with a knock on the door. These items are very fragile, usually even marked on the box, but thankfully so far none have been broken.

Completely different if I’m lucky enough to find something I can order through FedEx.  They come all the way to the door, knock on the door and place the package just over to the side.  I usually catch them walking back to their truck as I open the door and thank them every time.

Interesting side note: I thought about ordering on Amazon instead but the astronomy industry is rather small so the odds of these pieces being in a fulfillment center are small.  What is usually the case is that the vendors have an Amazon storefront so the order made on Amazon ends up in the same place–the vendor–, as if I ordered it off their site and I get the same USPS ‘service’.

What’s interesting though is the same exact filter or eyepiece is usually $15-30 MORE ordering through Amazon than ordering it directly from the vendor.  And this is just one very tiny tight knit industry.  Exactly how much is Amazon making for nothing more than passing over an order?!

And which is more profitable: that or its censorship?

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6:45 pm on February 23, 2021