Saturday, June 14, 2008

A victory for the little people

letter clutch - front
Originally uploaded by ::sämyii::.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that US Postal Service employees are the most disgruntled you'll ever find. They pass on their workplace frustrations directly to their customers which is both unfair and unpleasant. By and large, customer service simply ceases to exist once you reach a USPS counter.

And I think one of the biggest bummers about the whole thing is the fact that we NEED the postal service, and the employees know this. So there is no incentive for them to cheer up and actually be helpful, because as customers, we're going to keep coming back regardless of the treatment we receive.

So with all this in mind, I trudged over to the USPS after lunch thinking that the lines would be smaller and I could get in and get out quickly. Not so.

Round One with the USPS employee began with her annoyance that I couldn't find an appropriately-sized mailbox for the gifts I needed to send. In typical Goldilocks fashion, one box was too small, but the next size up was far too big. No mailbox I could see on the shelves was just right.

Faced with the option of splitting the gifts into two smaller boxes, I instead opoted to shove the whole gift collection into one big box and bravely approached the counter for Round Two.

The USPS employee was now deliberately being useless, and she looked at me like I had the plague when I queried whether she might have spare newspaper behind her desk so that I could pad the box out a bit.

She seemed to think that newspaper was a ludicrous suggestion, and instead wondered why I couldn't clearly see that the USPS sells bubble wrap for that very purpose. Now I understand the concept of up-selling, but as I was now so irritated by her, all I wanted to do was wrap HER in bubble wrap and mail her somewhere far, far away.

But I am also good at picking my battles, so I let the USPS lady win that one, and instead I duly opened a pack of costly bubbly plastic and stuffed the box with it. Once I had ensured that the enclosed gifts were safely protected, and all the necessary customs forms filled out, I returned to the counter for what I hoped would be the final round.

Round Three began with much huffing and puffing on the USPS employee's part, trying to fathom why I would send such a huge box to such a far-away land. By now I was quite happy standing in utter silence and just letting her do her thing. And clearly silence was not something that this woman was used to. Realising that our transaction was nearing its close, she tried to make up some ground with me.

To my complete surprise, she said "I'm really sorry if I was mean to you before," and yet made no additional excuse as to why she was mean, or why she was now sorry for it. And by way of reply, again to my complete surprise, I simply uttered "Uh huh". And nothing more.

So this annoyed her because I was now playing hardball (and I was past the point of caring) so she was blathering on about Australia and my family and whether it was hard for me to adjust to living in a new country.

And what did I say?

"Uh huh."

And I manged to maintain this frosty silence until she had finished processing the transaction. Completely out of character for me, but on a steamy Friday afternoon, I was completely over it and not in the least interested in putting up with her crap any more than I had to.

So once I was certain that my gifts were correctly bound for Australia and not, perhaps, Austria, I gathered my things, cordially wished her a pleasant weekend, and left.

And even though statistically the USPS woman won 2 rounds out of our 3, I nevertheless felt that I had ultimately emerged the victor because after all, she was the one who ended up apologising. And in the case of USPS, everybody knows that that NEVER happens.

1 comment:

kilabyte said...

I suspect that your picture is now on every USPS wall with a BIG sign that says "... no more deliveries ...". If you ever want to receive a letter or parcel from now on I suspect you will need to leave the US. And then, the USPS and Australia Post of course have a close working relationship too.

Maybe Uzbekistan Post is the go .....