Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Afternoon Downtown

Yesterday I made a trip to the central post office downtown.  I had a package and 70 Christmas cards to send out to our supporters.  I went to the central post office because last year it took almost two months for some of our cards to reach their destination in America.  Sasha theorized that by forgoing our local post office they would arrive faster.

I entered the post office and went up to a window that looked like it sold boxes for the package I wanted to send.  They told me I would have to go over to the window in the corner to get a box.  Meanwhile, the worker at the counter went over to the other window and asked her co-worker to get a box for me.  She was quite polite.  Actually all of the central post office workers were quite polite.   The workers were, in fact, the nicest part of my visit to the post office.

After getting the box I explained that I needed stamps for 70 letters and postage for the package.  I was informed that I would have to go out of the building and around to the main entrance.  Apparently I had entered the building the wrong way, but this turned out to be fortunate as it landed me in the only place I saw to purchase a box.

I walked around the building to the main entrance.  I entered the great hall of service windows.  Now I knew from experience that I had to choose the right window to buy stamps, so I carefully walked around the room reading every sign.  None of them mentioned stamps, so I went to the cashier and asked where I could buy some.  She directed me out of the great hall of service windows across the corridor to what looked like a gift shop.  There a very polite lady sold me the needed stamps for the letters.  The package would, of course, have to be weighed back in the great hall of windows.

I took my stamps and applied one to each letter.  These were the old lick and stick stamps, so my tongue got quite the workout.  Now all I had to do was figure out the package.  The lady in the “gift shop” had told me to go to windows 32-37.  There was a short line of about 5 or 6 people waiting for these windows.  I waited with them.  When it was my turn I told the lady that I would like to send a package to Scotland.   She told me I had to go to window 42 for that.  I went to window 42 and waited my turn.  I approached the lady and explained again that I wanted to send a package to Scotland.  She asked what was in the package.  “Books,” I said.  “Just books?” she inquired.  “Yes.  Just two books,” I assured her.  She stamped the package and sent me back to windows 32-37.  When it got to my turn again, I finally was able to pay for and send the package.

All together I visited 6 windows, one desk, and interacted with 8 very polite workers to send one package and 70 letters.  That’s one worker for every 8.75 letters and 0.125 packages.  Bureaucratic efficiency at its finest.

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