Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Motherhood

The Real Reason Post Offices Are Closing

I like a cute shoe. Many women do, right? But I love a cute shoe that’s on sale. Over the past few years, I’ve had to keep my shoe lust to a minimum because I’m a mom, and if anyone is going to regularly get shoes around here, it’s going to be the two people whose feet decide to grow a size and a half each year.

Gray Denim Boots

Sometimes, though, a good mommy-sized deal is just too good to pass up. So as I browsed the DSW website, as is my custom when I’m stressed, and found two cute pair of boots for less than $40 each and in my favorite color, I felt my heart flutter. Now, I don’t usually buy shoes online because feet are kind of funny. You may be one size if you buy this brand, but you may be another if you go with that brand. What I’ve found is that I’m generally between an 8 and an 8 1/2, which is so annoying because the shoes I like rarely fit comfortably. And because I work much more than I play, I need a variety of shoes that can transition between Church and work; sneakers just won’t cut it. Boots are the one exception to my perpetual sizing dilemma. Even though that 8 1/2 is a bit large, a nice ankle sock fills it up just right, and I can walk around a high school with my fly strut all day.

So I purchased my boots, with the excuse that fall is coming up, and I need something warmer and more stylish in my closet at the ready, and settled in for the 5-7 day wait for my package. Let’s be clear, my neighborhood isn’t the best, and on more than one occasion, I’ve had to send an unshaven, cranky hubby to the door with his wife beater, gym shorts, and Timberlands to scare the bejesus out of someone claiming to be selling some newfangled electricity or gas. I also remember from my online diaper buying days that if you aren’t home when the post office, FedEx, or UPS brings a no-signature required package, they will just leave your stuff on the porch. I hate it, and apparently, no amount of common sense has eradicated this practice, so I sent the package to my step-mom’s house because she’s always home when the mail comes. Here I was, being all proactive, and guess what happened. I get an email saying that the package had been delivered. What? No way. My step-mom didn’t even mention it.

So I did the package tracking and saw that they delivered the package at 1:27, a whole 2 hours earlier than usual, which meant that my step-mom was definitely home because the daily court shows and Maury Povich were in full swing at that time. My family and I looked in the bushes, around the house, in the backyard (maybe they tried to be discrete this time), and nothing. I would love to say that I said to myself, “They’re just shoes. It’s not like I don’t have any in my closet,” but I didn’t. I pouted. Yes, for real, pouted. I decided that package wasn’t delivered and would arrive early the next week, but when it still didn’t show up, I got angry.

I tried calling the post office. First of all, nothing dealing with the post office is pleasant. I even buy my stamps from the grocery store just to avoid going in one. Of course, there’s this automated system that you can’t bypass, so as I’m speaking my 134 number tracking code into the phone, trying not to miss a number, just to hear the “repeat” totally misinterpret my pronunciation, I can feel the fury rise in my chest.

“Is this correct?” the auto-woman says.

“No.”

“I’m sorry, please give your tracking number again.” I want to strangle the auto-woman because this is the third time I’ve repeated this code.

“Is this correct?”

“NO!” I start shaking because I’m so furious.

Finally, I’m given the option to ask for a live customer service  person.

“I’m sorry. Our offices are closed.”

“WHAT?” I scream into the phone. I maximize my computer screen. Surely, I just saw that you close at 8, it’s only 7:04! A closer look reveals that they close at 8 Eastern Time, and I, of course, am on Central. I hang up the phone resolved to contact DSW directly. They’re closed too. I violently throw the phone, almost giving my husband a concussion, and stew in my anger for several minutes.

Then it dawned on me. I could send an email. In fact, I could send an angry email, and that’s exactly what I did. (Take my advice: Don’t send emails when you are angry: they are long, full of the most minute details, and overuse all caps and exclamation points). I closed my laptop and tried to get some rest before work in the morning, saying that I’d call DSW as soon as I arrived to work.

In all fairness, the DSW lady was great. She apologized on behalf of the post office, tried to find my boots and send another package to me, requiring a signature this time, and explained the refund policies for lost and stolen packages. I opted for crediting my account because one pair of the boots I wanted were no longer in stock.

A few hours later, I get a phone call from the post office.

“Is this Marilyn?”

“Yes.”

“I’m from the post office, and I have your package right here. I don’t know why you sent us an angry email when I was able to walk right to your package.”

“I sent you an angry email because I received an email saying that my package had been delivered, and it was nowhere to be found!” I was not doing a good job of being glad I almost had my boots.

“Yeah, well, we don’t even send emails about packages.”

“What are you talking about? I’m sitting here looking at an email saying that it was delivered on Friday at 1:27.”

“That must have come from the company you purchased from because we never sent it.”

“I double checked, sir,” I said trying to check my anger this time, “and I went to the USPS website for tracking packages, and as plain as day it shows that my package was delivered to the home address I specified at 1:27. Now, I may be limited in a lot of ways, but I am quite capable of reading!” I didn’t actually say the last sentence, but just know that I really wanted to do so.

“Hold on.”

After a few seconds he returned to the phone. He was different, though. I’m sure he thought I was BSing him, so he went to check the computer and saw that there was a “delivered” package notice.

“Well, we can take it to the house if that’s what you’d like.”

“Absolutely not! I’ll send someone to get it because I’m at work. Now, before I send anybody up there, I want to be clear because I don’t want any more foolishness about my package.” I had slipped unwittingly into mommy mode with this grown, employed man. “That is not my home address because I sent it to someone else’s house because I knew she would be there when the package was supposed to be delivered. Her name is not the name on the package, but she will have ID for that address, okay?”

More gray boots!

I got my boots! But if working at the post office is as frustrating as it is trying to get a package from them, I totally understand the closings.

Note: Our regular mail lady was on vacation when I received the “delivered notice” via email. In all fairness, she’s a wonderful lady who really is consistent and friendly, but this whole process left a very bad taste in my mouth about the company as a whole.

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3 thoughts on “The Real Reason Post Offices Are Closing

  1. rachel on said:

    I’m glad you got your boots! But, having dealt with the post office more than I care to share… yes, it can be extremely frustrating!!!

  2. So, I laughed at this, because I’ve been a postal customer and a postal employee and I can promise you the reason postal workers are often useless and unhelpful is the same psychology that makes people in bad environments (like warzones) go catatonic. Its awful working for the post office, or quitting the post office. Carriers get paid way too well and have variety in their work and a separate union, and are sometimes happy, but every other kind of postal job makes call centers and other demeaning work look eclectic and rewarding. The morale where I was working was tragic, and people, despite being paid 30% above industry average for similar work, dropped like flies and disappeared over night. Take pity on that cashier at the post office next time you go. Just getting hired probably took 6 months, 12 hoops, 5 exams with no relevance to the position at all, 8 interviews with obsurd questions, and turned half their hair gray. Once I and 600 other people at my facility had to go through the application process to keep our jobs due to a new labor contract. We had to fill out 18 pages of forms and take 3 tests we’d all already taken and passed and filled out just to not get terminated. I quit a couple summers in a row to go hiking, and I got huge stacks of paperwork in the mail every day for months telling me I’d quit and about retirement accounts no one had ever told me I had until then. I threatened to sue after not getting my severance check for 10 weeks last year, and was told by three different hotlines that: I would receive my check soon, I had already received my final check, and that I was still working for the post office and thus was not owed a severance check. (I was not still working for the post office. I think I would know.) I became a folk hero with my coworkers for quitting in musical form the last time.

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