Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It has been an age old passion of people to complain about the US Postal Service. I worked for the USPS for nine and a half years back in the 80s and I’m proud to say I got the hell out of that dysfunctional organization before I took it seriously enough to bring a gun to work. If you’ve ever read Bukowski’s book “Post Office” all I can say it is not a work of fiction.

I did all sorts of jobs during my years there. I was a carrier, a clerk, a window clerk, a time keeper, a nixie clerk, a registry clerk and a 204B. Window clerking was fun. I was able to move lines along quickly because I could anticipate what people really wanted. When they brought a parcel to be mailed my first question was “Fast or Cheap?” That generally cut the wheat from the chaff.

I’ve been mailing some packages lately and though I bring my parcels nicely wrapped and clearly addressed with the proper priority stickers I still have to wait in a long line to be met usually by only one window clerk who feels obligated to give me and everyone in the long line before me a sales pitch. I understand being asked if what I am shipping contains liquid, perishable or hazardous material, but I don’t need to know about the other services like certification, return receipts or overnight delivery with prices quoted for each. I don’t need to know about insurance. I feel they will next start quoting me the names of their children and pets just to slow the line down further.

Yesterday I went in to mail Dalia her birthday present. Happy continued 35, Darlin! My package was neatly addressed and I had the customs form all filled out. I knew how I wanted this parcel to be handled, yet I still got the entire sales pitch and prices. The clerk read the customs forms and made me aware that the postage will cost more than the content. I under stood that when I walked in and I know a stamp costs more than an envelope and a sheet of paper a letter is written on. I had my money out ready to spend. I wanted to get the hell out of there and leave all the questions to the other people in line.

I specifically wanted to use the customs form I used because I wanted to mail the box Priority to Canada. I have experience with the Canadian Postal Service and I’m sure there will be delays up there, so I wanted to get it up there as soon as possible…on a flight not in the back of a right hand drive Jeep. I hope it makes it to Dalia before her 36th birthday. I really need to start using Fedex or UPS.

I’m sure the postal clerks are under the gun from their managers to do all this. Postal Managers are basically jerks with slogans. Back when I was there I heard some doozies, like when we were forbidden to ever use the phrase “Junk Mail.” We were to call it, “Business Bulk Mail” and we were required to smile when we said it. Rat bastards!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I suggest that you visit the Hammond Post Office for your mailing needs. Never a line and never a sales pitch if you tell them what you want.

6:11 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

There was a time, back when they had no real competition, that the usps's watchwords were "utility and efficiency". Now that there is ups and fedex and all the others to give people choices in carriers, the watchword has become "making a buck". It's sad, really.

6:54 AM  
Blogger g said...

I would like to hear more of your Post office days stories!

7:52 PM  
Blogger Jaggy said...


I just had to buy $80 worth of stamps for wedding invitations, shower invitations, and thank-you notes. When I said I wanted $80 worth, the postal clerk looked at me with the, "wait, what, how much, $8?" disbelief expression. I stated it again, handed him my card, and waited expectantly. The guy slowly got up, shuffled over to the special stamp area, counted out sheets of wedding stamps for me, and returned twice as slowly. He didn't appear physically disabled to me, so I was getting rather impatient. After TEN MINUTES at the window (not including my twenty minute wait!), I was finally able to leave with my stamps. Rat bastards INDEED!

9:53 PM  
Blogger Tango said...

I'd like to hear more about your "postal" days too. I'm sure you've got some stories to tell.
Besides ironing, going to the post office is the second most hated thing for me to have to do. I try to avoid it if I can.

5:05 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Anon, I have never been in the Hammond PO. I normally go to Warrenton, but lately when I've been mailing things I've been in Astoria for other reasons. I will go to Hammond next time.

Darev, and they have all these other non-postal products for sale there as well. Pretty tacky.

g, maybe. I'm still pretty bitter about a lot of it.

Jaggy, that shouldn't be a big shock to him. That's less than the equivalent of two rolls. When I window clerked I'd order tons of Love Stamps because people getting married always wanted them. I probably sold 500 every week.

Tango, Anon is right, find a little office out in the boonies. They are the best.

5:35 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Just think what a beeyotch ironing at the post office would be! Hee hee hee!

5:45 AM  
Blogger Nulaanne said...

I remember when I could go to the stamp machine and just buy one or two stamps not a whole book. It takes me over a year to use a book of them, and then I forget where I put them. I spent 30 min in line yesterday just to buy 2 stamps.

8:34 AM  
Blogger dalia said...

i didn't want to comment until the package was safely in my hands... and today i finally got it! ;-)

it was safe and sound, with a bit of confusion, as there are two post offices in my neighbourhood, within a block of each other, and the parcel pick up slip didn't indicate WHICH post office i was to pick it up at...

but when i finally arrived at the correct PO, my little package was handed over to me, no fuss, no muss.

thank you! xo

3:58 PM  
Blogger NAME: Caroline Not-in-the-City said...


I occasionally pop in and enjoy your blog ... We used to live in Astoria, Oregon, but briefly moved to Hammond while our new house in Astoria is being built.

I recently read your post about being at the Astoria Post Office for 9 years. Brave, brave, very brave. You have no idea what a relief it has been to move to Hammond ... the post office here and the people that work there are just wonderful. We all feel your pain! lol...

I have been working with an attorney in Salem, OR, for the last year on a claim with the USPS. In July '09, I was with my 2-year-old daughter walking down the stairs out front of the post office and completely slipped and bit it down the stairs. Those stairs are so ridiculously slick ... it is the 3rd time I slipped or fell on them, but the only time I was seriously injured. This particular time, my feet went out from underneath me, and I landed on my shoulder, arm, and tumbled down onto my ankle at the bottom of the stairs. I was knocked out, and woke up with enough orientation to call a friend for a ride to the ER. Not fun. And my insurance wouldn't pay for any of it - casts/therapy/DR bills - because they said it was the post office's fault. So ... I was stuck with thousands of dollars of bills, and the Post Office claiming that it's my error for falling.

I have to think that there have been more people who have wiped out on those stairs before. I fell on a sunny, dry day, and they were still slick as ice. It really concerns me with the large elderly population in Astoria, that they are so indifferent to simply putting treads on the steps to prevent future injuries.

Anyway, the point of this email was to ask you if you knew of others who had fallen on those steps, or if you know of others who would agree that they are a hazard and need to be improved in order to protect the community from falls. The attorney that I am working with suggested that this might help our case of getting them to wake up a little bit about this ...

Thanks so much for your time reading this ... I appreciate it.

Best regards, Caroline

7:16 PM  

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