Archive for the FUN WITH THE POST OFFICE Category

THE POST OFFICE OF MODERN AMERICA

Posted in FUN WITH THE POST OFFICE on March 5, 2011 by elsdonssewer

The U.S. Post Office
First of all let’s make one thing clear. The following is not the motto of the United States Postal Service.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these
couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

It is merely an inscription over the entrance at the General Post Office in New York City on 8th Avenue and 33rd Street.
The origin was actually translated from Book 8, Paragraph 98, of The Persian Wars by Herodotus.
It seems that the USPS motto is much like their work ethic. It does have a mission statement however and, like most customers of the Post Office, it’s largely ignored.
Here is the link to the USPS web site PDF file that explains it.

http://www.usps.com/postalhistory/_pdf/MissionandMotto.pdf

A long time ago, (colonial times to be exact) when horses were the main means of transportation in the United States we had a system for sending letters from one address to another, specifically for sending a letter from one town to another. At many intersections on our (at that time, not so) highway system was a wooden post (hence “post” office). On this post people would tack their mail. A traveler would look at the addresses on the envelopes and if they were heading towards that town they would take the letter and either tack it to the central post in that town or tack it to a post along the way. This was a system that seemed to work. There was no charge to anyone for this service and more often than not the letters would end up where the sender wanted them to go.
My, my.
Well it wasn’t long that our government (as they are want to do) started dipping their hands in to the process. At first it was a local government thing with each state trying to find a source of revenue from a system that was working well enough as a free and voluntary service. By 1775 Benjamin Franklin was appointed as the first Postmaster General by the Continental Congress.
Yes they have been at if for a while.
So here we are in 2011, 236 years later and look how we’ve improved.
I think that it’s important to note here that in 1860 the Pony Express ran mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento California. It took on average 10 days (a bit longer in the winter) to run the route. Today’s modern mail system has dropped a whole day off that.
Did you know that in 1959 the USPS tried a delivery system that they called “Missile Mail” They actually had the U.S.S. Barbero fire a guided missile, filled with 3000 letters at the Naval Air Station in Mayport, Florida. Probably the idea was for some one to dig around in the crater and see if they could find any letters that weren’t burnt to a crisp.
So where am I going with this? I don’t know, I guess I’m just going to turn this into a bitch session.
Here’s my problem with today’s Postal Service.
Firstly, their prices keep going up. Now this is not a surprise in the economy we have enjoyed in the country over the past two hundred or so years. When we find ourselves in a bull market the USPS raises its rates either because we can all afford it or so the postal workers can get a nice raise before the bottom falls out. When we are in a recession or a depression the USPS raises its rate because…well because they can. You know that nice raise they all got during the bull market. Well, when we are not spending a lot of money on postage stamps the USPS is forced to raise its rate to cover payroll.
Bear in mind that the USPS was an arm of the Federal Government for years and years. The thing is, when they raise their prices there is little or no improvement in services.
It is one of the benefits of owning a monopoly. You can do what you want and the people you “service” can like it or lump it.
It was actually in 1855 that mandatory “pre-payment” of mail delivery was established. Not a big deal, I’m just saying this “like it or lump it” attitude they have goes back a long way.
Secondly, I have to walk out to the street to get my mail even though the person sending me the mail has paid for them to deliver it to my house, not to some where in my yard. Come on, they can’t walk the last few feet. Get out of the truck and deliver my mail. Here’s the rub. I could take my mail box and put it at my house; I have that freedom I think. However according to the USPS even though I had to pay for my mail box out of my own pocket from whatever mail box vender I choose, I don’t own it, the Post Office does. So, let’s say for the sake of argument that I do have an inalienable right to put my/their mail box where ever I wanted it, big deal. They would just stop delivering my mail.
You know I actually lived in a town in Wisconsin where I had to go to the Post Office to pick up my mail. They gave me a free Post Office box because; as it was explained to me “The carrier did not go down the street that I lived on.” Well I can certainly understand any business wanting to cut costs and if they can give a free P.O. Box instead of traveling five or more miles one way just to deliver to one address. I just makes good economic sense. Oh, did I mention that I lived right in town, less than two blocks from the Post Office?
Here is another twist that only the Post Office provides.
I (and you) have to pay in advance to have them deliver a letter or parcel for you. That’s cool, they would loose a ton of money if we were on the “Honor System” so I both understand and comply with that. What I don’t understand is, once you’ve given them your money and they put all the stamps and stickers and what ever all the identifiers that are required to get your stuff to its destination, the USPS can decide not to deliver it. They can fall upon any of a thousand of their rules and regulations to back up that decision. Hello, I paid you, so go do you job.
The other day I had a uniquely USPS experience. I was at work. At about 16:30 (that’s 4:30 PM for those who don’t know) I walked into the back room and noticed that the mail had not been taken to the Post Office. So, I threw it in my truck (two letters and 4 bags of pre-sorted mail which totaled maybe 9 pounds) and took it to the local branch. Arriving there at 16:45, I carried it in and gave it to the guy who answers the door. He immediately started reprimanding me. “Cut off is 3 PM.” He scolded. I explained that had I known it had not been handled earlier I would have had it there earlier.
Now, a normal, sane, rational person would have responded to my explanation by saying something like, that’s fine, don’t worry or even something to the effect of his statement being for future reference. As we all know; neither normalcy, sanity nor rationality is a prerequisite of USPS employment.  It may even be that possessing any one of these three qualities could be a disqualifier for USPS service.
Well, this Post Office Nazi just could not leave it as it was. No, he had to continue chastising me for my tardiness. I was told in no uncertain terms that he was supposed to leave at 5 and that I had just put him in a “time crunch”.
Of for God’s sake, you are open until 5 PM, you work until 5 PM, you have 2 letters and 4 bags of pre-sorted mail which totaled maybe 9 pounds to deal with in the next 15 minutes. If you are unable to cope with that, if it is beyond you scope of abilities…well then I guess that, A, you are going to punching out a bit late today and B, you are perfectly suited to a career with the USPS.
Being I possess at least of small bit of intelligence I elected not to get into with that little man who was blessed with the power of the Post Office. I simply rolled my eyes and walked.
Of course this was not the end of it because they are the Post Office and he was a Post Office Nazi, the next morning he or someone like him called my boss to complain. My bosses response was “You are open until 5”.

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