(not so) Common Sense
Sometimes, there are no words.
By Carole Townsend
Have you ever dealt with someone whose job was so secure that he or she didn’t really care whether you walked away a satisfied customer? I have.
I imagine that you have, too. I’d bet money on it if you’ve ever walked into a U.S. post office. That may sound as though I’m stereotyping a workforce of, well, many thousands, but I don’t intend to do that. My only experience has been with the post office that “serves” my neighborhood, right here on Buford Drive in Lawrenceville. I may be treading on thin ice here, it won’t be the first time.
Our family has lived in our Lawrenceville home for almost 20 years. During that entire time, we have had the frustrating problem of our mail being mis-delievered. There is another house on our street with a number very close to ours, and there is a house in a separate part of the neighborhood with the exact street number, but a different street name.
We did not assign these street numbers, or the names. I assume that someone down at a Gwinnett County office did that when the neighborhood was being developed. We have reported the problem to the post office staff numerous times over the years. In fact, we’ve reported it an average of two times a year for 20 years. Back in April, I was so flabbergasted at the rudeness of the employee to whom I reported the problem, that I wrote a letter to the Postmaster General down on Crown Road. I am still waiting on that guy’s response, but hope springs eternal.
I was in the post office today, renewing our post office box ($164/month) that we must maintain because the post office peeps – almost directly across the street from our neighborhood – can’t seem to find our house. The last time we reported an important shipment lost, the mail carrier smugly pulled up a photo of our house with Google Earth and said, “This your house?”
“Yes” I replied.
“Then it got delivered,” replied Rocket Science. In other words, I am either stupid or a liar, maybe even both. Two days later, the homeowner to whose house the package was actually delivered was kind enough to bring the package to our house.
In my letter to the Postmaster General, I stated that anyone can pull up an address on Google Earth. I can pull up the Crown Road Post Office; however, that does not mean that I delivered a package there.
Still waiting for an answer.
At any rate, today I also planned to make an appointment for my husband and me to re-up our passports. I heard the clerk tell the woman in front of me that there are no passport appointments available until November. No big deal; we are in no rush.
I stepped up to the counter and asked politely if I could make appointments for us to renew our passports. “No, I’m sorry. We no longer take appointments for that.”
“But…but…the lady in front of me just made an appointment for the very same thing. It’s OK if we have to wait until November. We aren’t in a rush.”
“No, I’m sorry. We stopped taking appointments, because people forget them. Call us in October, and we might be doing it then.”
“Huh?” October? Do people remember things better in October? Will November appointments still be open in October?
Irritated, I threw in for good measure that our mail delivery is still awful, and that merchandise, checks, legal papers, all of those things are lost on a regular basis. Her answer?
“I’m sorry. Nothing we can do about that. He should retire soon.”
In an instant, a scene flashed before my eyes, one in which I leaped across the counter and straddled the clerk, strangling her until her eyes popped out, demanding a passport appointment AND reliable mail delivery. I snapped out of my pleasant reverie by the woman screeching “Next!” and dismissing me from her presence as though I was an unruly child.
I have decided. I want to be a U.S. postal worker when I grow up. You have rock-solid job security, and you answer to no one – not customers, not supervisors, no one. I’m pretty sure I could nail the job interview. Neither one of us would know the first thing about mail delivery.
Tell me, are we the only family with this problem? I have no trouble understanding why the USPS lost $5.5 billion last year. On the flip side, UPS and Fed-Ex find our house every single time, and I believe they both operate in the black. Coincidence? No, I think not.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.