August 13, 2011

Screw the Post Office

The U.S. Postal Service is suffering. Hemorrhaging at the rate of some $25 million daily. The reasons are identified as a near demise of letter mailing due to the ease and simplicity of electronic mail… and parcel competition from UPS, DHL, FedEx and a small host of similar services.

I’m as guilty as most. Couldn’t tell you how long it's been since I actually affixed stamp to envelope, and even with my work communications I’ve taken to drafting letters in MS Word, applying an electronic signature and sending as an email attachment. This saves some money and generally offers a greater level of certainty that the recipient will actually receive what I send.

Yep, my confidence in the U.S. Postal service is at an all time low. Where I live is on a rural route and my mail is delivered by a contract carrier to a box out by the road. In the past five or so years I’ve had missing mail on numerous occasions, and I’ve received mail addressed to my neighbors. My carrier appears both lazy and a bit hazy.

I say lazy because her job requires that if a parcel is too large to fit in the box that she bring it to the house. She has resisted this... tying parcels to the box to avoid driving down and dropping it on the porch.

I’d complained about missing mail in the past so you'd think she'd get a clue, but only after I’d had two rather expensive parcels stolen and showed him a photograph of another dangling from the box by a rubber band did the Postmaster scold my carrier.

She straightened up for a bit, but a new problem cropped up when she still refused to get out of her vehicle, dropping packages in the middle of the driveway instead. She claims my dog won’t let her out of her car, snarling and snapping. At least a few reading this blog have met Elvis and will recognize just how ridiculous an excuse this is.

She must have gotten tired of the complaints because after that she just wouldn’t leave the package at all. I'd come home to find a form in the box informing me that I must pick it up at the Post Office between the hours of 8:30 and 4:15, Monday through Friday.

Monday through Friday I leave for work at 5:30, and if traffic isn’t too bad that afternoon I might make it to the Post Office by 5:00. Making it within their piss-poor hours meant taking time off from work, so I complained again.

Things got better for a time, but she still wouldn’t get out of her vehicle. At least she would get as close to the carport as she could and toss the package onto a chair I started leaving there for that purpose.

Today something changed. When I returned home I found another of those forms telling me I would have to pick up my package at the Post Office on Monday.

This is not just any package. It's the last of the parts needed to complete a project in the works for over a month and already past due. I've waited all week for these parts so that I could complete things on Sunday and move to the next level.

This kills the next weekend too. What I should have done tomorrow will have to be done then, and I’d already made arrangements with others for work to be done both Saturday and Sunday. The whole plan is now upset, very likely costing a bunch more money and the resulting domino effect could kill yet another plan for the Labor Day weekend that has been in the works since last year.

I’m pissed.

This is the final straw. Not only am I going to go postal (pardon the pun) on the Postmaster, but I will no longer shop with online retailers if they ship via USPS. When I place an order I will instruct the shipper to ship via UPS or FedEx, neither of which has drivers afraid of Elvis and both of which have no problem carrying the package to the stoop.

And I’m selling my stamp collection.