On Bad Jobs, Yelp, and Going Postal

First, a new cartoon!

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Thank you very much.

This week’s blog inspiration is courtesy of the United States Postal Service and the often demonized Postal Worker. Gone are the days of: “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  The US Postal Worker, proud descendant of the Pony Express rider, is no longer a heroic figure.

(Aside: Thank goodness they stopped the mail delivery in that sub-arctic polar vortex death storm of the century in the Midwest.  There are penguins all over the highway in Evanston, Illinois.  Well, not really, but it’s cold enough for that to be possible.)

For many years, the US Postal worker has gotten a bad rap.  Not the mail carriers, really, most people like their mail carriers. But everyone hates going to the post office, no one more than, it would seem, postal workers.

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Great way to spend an afternoon!

And of course, there’s that mass-shooting thing, a.k.a. “going postal.”  Nowadays, it seems that anyone can get a weapon and go postal, even the unemployed and juveniles, not to mention the criminally insane, so that’s not as relevant anymore, but still, postal clerks are often complained about, and assumed to have the worst job in the world.

And now, thanks to Yelp, you can complain about your post office, as well as that crappy falafel place on Ventura that gave you intestinal distress.

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Clearly, a very scary post office

Yes, Post Offices are Yelp-rated.  Here’s a quote from Amy M. of Studio City, about my local USPS:

“Manager Manmeet is extremely rude.  I’ve dealt with her in 5 occasions for 5 difference issues (pick ups, lost package, etc) and EVERYTiME she has a terrible attitude.  I’d rather stab my eye out than have to come here.  This post office is the worst!!”

It’s the worst?!  So, Amy M., why not go to your own f-ing Studio City post office? Instead you go to a PO that’s like 10 miles away and then complain about it?  You don’t have to come here! And why is only the “i” in EVERYTiME lower case? Do you have an “I” problem?  Maybe low self esteem?  Well, don’t ask me for help.

Wait… My post office is the worst? Listen, bad is bad, but want-to-stab-my-eye-out bad?  That’s pretty darned impressive.  And Manmeet?  Let’s just allow that one to sit there for a second…

Maybe the manager gave Amy M. a fake funny name?  So she could walk around saying “man meat” to her friends while complaining about Manmeet?  Okay, that was culturally insensitive but some jokes are too good to pass up.

(Aside: It goes both ways.  I had a friend named “Zeb” who lived in London for a semester. Zebullon was his middle name so he went by Zeb because it was unique.  He attended a family party as a guest of his Arab classmate, who told him to introduce himself as Robert, his given first name.  Zeb refused, since everyone knew him as Zeb, not Robert.  His friend insisted, they fought on the way up in the elevator, and finally the friend explained that “Zeb” is slang, in some Arab dialects, for “penis.”)

Is Manmeet, if that is her name (and I’m going to check next time I go there) especially rude or is she merely completely fed up with her horrible job dealing with people like Amy M.?  I have witnessed some clerk rudeness, but also have had some positive exchanges, like when I got those John Lennon stamps.

And then, there was this little snippet, from Yelp contributor Al T. of Los Angeles:

“’Chaotic’ is the only word I can use to describe this horrible place.  Recently, one of their postal workers was found dead in her mail truck due to heat prostration.  The place is permanently cursed for that reason alone!!”

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Looks haunted. The light is on. Nobody home.

Heat prostration? Okay it was 117 degrees here in July, but I never heard about this.  Is this post office haunted?  Is that why Manmeet is so edgy?  This might explain why last week I came to drop off a letter and was told the post office was closed due to a suspicious package.  Since the building is still there it can safely be assumed that the package was not armed.  But maybe the local post office is haunted?

(Just for fun, here’s a Yelp review by Foojan M. a young woman who came all the way from Denver, CO to use my post office: “The worst USPS ever.  The gentleman with no hair AKA Kevin the KoneHead is one of the most miserable people on the face of this earth, he needs to find himself another boyfriend because he is most definitely deprived in every way.”  Foojan, you have anger in you. Did you mean “depraved?”  Get help.)

Standing in a line at the haunted post office the other day, I started getting really annoyed. Mostly just because I’m easily annoyed and unreasonably impatient.  But it was taking longer than usual.  One of the complaints on Yelp was there were only two clerks.  I saw 4 or 5.  One was just taking drop offs or package/mail pick ups, and three others had lines open.  Still, it was slow.  So I paid attention to what was going on, mostly to keep myself entertained.

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If you shoot it on an angle, it looks scary. Manmeet, is that you?

At the drop-off, which should be a simple operation, some dunce was re-packing his package, badly, because he had already packed it at home, badly.  He was using the tape dispenser as if doing a Buster Keaton imitation.  I anticipated that in no time he would be wrapped up in USPO tape like a mummy.

Down the row, some grey-haired gent was filling out a Priority Mail envelope.  That’s where you write: 1. Your address and 2. The addressee’s address on an envelope and put a thing in it and close it.  That’s it.  He couldn’t manage this.  Nor could he get his documents in the envelope, because he took the wrong size envelope, so the clerk ended up doing it for him.

Meanwhile, at the next line, some lady was buying a money order but she was having problems understanding what that entailed, as well as how to use the credit card machine. Then, her kid wanted to talk to the postal clerk, the Asian woman who sold me the Lennon stamps.  He’s asking her questions like her name and whatever and the clerk, being civil, responds.  We’re standing on line waiting for this woman to leave already and she’s encouraging her kid to chat up the clerk.  It’s nice the kid wants to talk to strangers.  Just come here when it’s empty and they can have a long, deep convo.

In the last lane, a woman was translating for her mother trying to send a package to another country.  Then some guy comes in, thinking he can just drop off his packages, which he can, but he has a pile of them and drops one, and then while picking it up, drops the rest of the packages which scatter all over the floor, so the clerk at the drop-off helps him instead of the next customer.

Then some woman comes in with a little girl and she’s so excited to hear that she gets to cut the line and drop off her package!  Aren’t we lucky, she says to her little girl, too loudly, like seriously, she’s rubbing it in our face that we’re waiting on line?  And her kid is annoying and loud too!

This sets the stage for my final realization after much analysis: It’s not the clerks.  It’s us.  It’s the customers. We are dumb.  We are lazy. We are annoying, obnoxious and oblivious.  We don’t know how to do simple things like fill out an envelope or use the new chip thingy on the credit card.  We don’t care about the other customers’ time. We don’t care about the hard-working postal workers.

Imagine having a job where you can’t stop working, to check your phone, look at “50 Historical Photos That Will Shock You” online, or even go to the restroom, for long periods of time?  Where you work in public with people watching you? With one idiot after the next coming up to you without a clue?  It’s dumbfounding that when they go postal they seem to kill each other, instead of the general public.

In conclusion, be nice to the postal clerk, pay attention, come prepared, and for godsakes figure out how to use the credit card chip thingy already.  And stop talking so loud in public. We don’t all need to hear your shit.  We don’t think your kid is as cute as you do.

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The only thing worse than the Post Office is DMV.  There is a chapter in Smoking in Bed that takes place in the downtown Manhattan DMV.  I had a New York license but never went to the DMV in the city.  I would imagine it’s horrific.  For more on waiting in line and other fun things to do in New York City, please read the book:

Smoking in Bed: dreams of love, sex and terrorism

Thanks for reading, and have a great rest of the week.  On to February!

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