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How Can the USPS be Bankrupt? I Have an Idea…

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The United States Postal Service has been around for over 200 years. The business model doesn’t seem overly complicated. A human being needs to send something to another human being. They take it to the post office, pay a fee, and their piece of mail is delivered where it needs to go. While the means have changed, the fact that their sole focus is getting something from one place to another, how can the USPS be on the verge of bankruptcy…? After what I recently experienced, I have a pretty good idea.

There was a slip left in my mailbox on Friday stating that a delivery to my house needed a signature and since I was not present to sign for it, so the package would be at the post office after 8AM on Tuesday. First thought is, what kind of lackadaisical effort is this? Fed Ex makes 3 attempts before they hold your package, but whatever.

I decided to follow the rules and show up to the post office shortly after the 8 o’clock hour on that Tuesday in order to pick up the parcel. Now I know that most of you haven’t been to the post office near my house… 1) because you don’t know where my house is, and 2) going to the post office ranks somewhere above going to get a root canal in things that people like to do, but if you have, you realize that the turnover rate on employees is very low. I’m not exactly sure what you have to do to get fired, but if it’s anything less than commit mass murder, I’d be surprised. I digress; I walked in and surveyed the scene. There were two workers behind the counter, a rarity in itself. I recognized the one worker almost immediately. He has been there for as long as I can remember, but without that fact, he wouldn’t be hard to spot since he looks like a drugged out version of Yanni and goes by the name of “Mad Dog.” Alongside Yanni was a lady that looked like a bus driver but really whipped through customers. I was 7th in line, but she had the people moving.

I was patiently waiting as the lady ran through 5 customers before “Mad Dog” even got through one. I knew my timing was going to be off and D-O Yanni was going to be the man for the job. I was correct. I walked to the counter like Jeremy Renner approached a bomb in hurt locker… confident, but still a little leery… I had over the ticket and my ID without uttering a word. The look on his face was priceless, it was as if he was about to eat the ticket rather than go look for the package.

He then disappeared behind the counter for what was quite literally 20 minutes; during which I looked at the sign they had hanging that boasted ONE BILLION packages sent with the prepaid mailing boxes. I thought to myself, how can any business that has over ONE BILLION transactions, vital to the nation, over 200 years old, and with relatively predictable overhead be on the verge of bankruptcy… I couldn’t see all of what he was doing, but he came back to the same shelf and picked up the same 2 packages FOUR times. Finally, he returns to the counter and says “I can’t find it, I wasn’t here Saturday.” I then informed him that I got that on Friday and he said: “Oh, well I was here then…” a fact that added absolutely nothing to the situation or the moment.

He said, “Well I don’t even know what this is.” I sheepishly asked, “The ticket or the package?” He said “The package,” and I snarkily remarked “Great!”

He didn’t apologize for his utter incompetence, just said: “I’ll have the carrier bring it back out to you.” I said, “That’s not going to do anything, I won’t be home, and it needs a signature, which is why I am
here in the first place.”

He repeated himself like a robot put together by Dexter Manley: “Oh, well I’ll have them bring it out to you.”

Again, I said: “That won’t matter, I won’t be home to get it… can I sign something so they can leave it?”

He said: “No” then started stuttering about a bar code. I cut him off and said “It says right here on the ticket that I can sign here and they will leave it at my house…”

He said (and this is a direct quote): “Uhhhh, no, barrr code, needs, barcode, signature, barcode”

I looked at him, then looked up at the security camera. Earlier on, while I waited, I thought I was on MTV’s “Boiling Points,” and that if I started swearing I would lose the money… By now I was convinced this was the case and I maintained my composure behind a veil of sarcasm. I said, “Here’s the deal, it says on the card if I sign this, they will deliver it and leave it. Here’s my signature, I’m not coming back here again.”

I didn’t question him when he said that he needed to make a photocopy of the ticket (despite the fact that he didn’t give me a copy… evidently he intended to put it on his refrigerator at home) He then interjected “ok maybe, yeah, sign it there, I don’t know, might need a bar code.”

That was the final time he was going to say barcode to me. Because I politely responded with, “I don’t have any bar codes so it really doesn’t matter if it needs one or not. The first problem is that you have no
idea where the package is…”

His response was a microcosm for the whole trip. He said: “Well, it’s somewhere”

I responded, “Yes, it is, in fact, somewhere… (shook my head and walked to my car).

Somewhere along the way, they must have located the package. No, I didn’t have it Tuesday, nor Wednesday, but it found its way to my house on Thursday (quite a journey for the package since the post office is about 2 miles from my house and could be walked there in 30 minutes). In short, my question was answered. I found out how a company with “over 400,000 prepaid packages sent per day” is on the verge of financial ruin… mind-boggling really, but true.


2 Responses to “How Can the USPS be Bankrupt? I Have an Idea…”

  1. When Andy Rooney retires, I’m next in line. You can have it after me. But you have to grow some bushier eyebrows

    Posted by Pops | June 5, 2011, 3:33 pm
  2. Christ, the same thing happened to me this morning in san francisco.

    I wait in line for an absurd amount of time only to have the Lady spend another absurd amount of time trying to find my package, comes back only to say she can’t find it.

    I say “what do you mean?”

    “well, the driver didnt leave a note and its not in the back”

    Well I say, “isnt there some sort of standard operating procedure or do these packages just float around”

    eventually she says shell call me if they find it. Half an hour later after I’m already on the freeway on my way to work I get a call saying she found it, I’m sure it just suddenly materialized.

    This is the reason I will never support any government backed program, without competition mass inefficiency and general incompetence arises.

    And now healthcare is going in this direction… great

    Posted by jerry | July 20, 2011, 2:16 pm

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