Musings, Nits, and Praises: Weeping and Gnashing of Envelopes

Musings, Nits, and Praises

A farrago of all things deemed blog-worthy by a music-loving, poetry-writing, humor-seeking English teacher


Weeping and Gnashing of Envelopes

Forget Guantanamo. There's cruel and unusual punishment going on right here in Austin. It's not Chinese water torture. It's not starving people and beating them with hoses. It's worse. It's the Blue Bonnet post office. From the outside, the office looks like dozens of other large post offices, but once you step through the two sets of tinted glass doors into the low-lit lobby permeated with the smell of cardboard packaging materials and b.o., brace yourself for the third circle of hell. Once you draw a number from the ticket dispenser, you join the masses poor, haggard folks (some with screaming children) who made the drastic mistake of wanting to mail something. (Your appearance actually deteriorates as you wait for service. If you're lucky enough to escape Bluebonnet, your friends will likely recoil in fear: "God have mercy! What happened to you?!" -- "I, I went to the post office."
The dearth of employees is the main cause of customers' suffering. On one of my trips to Bluebonnet, two people worked the service counter (out of a possible six) while close to forty beleaguered customers waited. A few of them were nearing the point of tearing their clothes, scraping themselves with packaging-tape dispensers, and cursing the day they were born. (On more than one occasion I've feared I'd living out my remaining days waiting to send a piece of certified mail.) I thought, "Why aren't there more employees? Are they at lunch (odd for 2:30 in the afternoon)? Are they taking a team-building smoke break? " Now I'm convinced missing employees hide in a secret room where they laugh with malicious glee as they watch customers waste away their day.
So, since the problem stems from an employee shortage, the post office would naturally just hire more clerks, right? If you think for a moment the answer is "yes," then you obviously don't grasp the sadistic nature of the office's supervisors. Two years ago, rather than hiring additional people to work the counter (or just dragging the existing ones from the secret room), they hired a lady to be a greeter of sorts. From what I could gather, her job was to make small talk with people in line and offer false assurance their families wouldn't need to file a missing person report. She only worked there for a few months. I suppose the supervisor thought her salary was a waste of money, or perhaps she was ripped to shreads by an angry mob of customers who were in no mood for her perkiness.
Bluebonnet has tried a few other stop gap solutions over the past few years, but all have failed to mitigate the hassles. I'm considering just delivering my mail in person from now on, even if it entails reviving the Pony Express. So I'd face fatigue, inclimate weather, and possible robbery-- that still beats Bluebonnet.

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