« I killed him | Main | raw meat in new york »

Thank you, big government bureaucracy!

Today I received the best service from anyone since I dined at Charlie Trotter's back in 2002. Did I eat at another fine restaurant? Did I spend through the nose at a snobby, exclusive private business? No. I mailed something at the Post Office.

You see, I have this little plant, a Spanish Ivy, that was severely injured last September when I left it in the cab of a rented moving truck in the parking lot of the hotel where I was interviewing with law firms. It almost died from too much heat and sun. Luckily, we were able to save a few leaves, and we kept them in a glass of water all year so they could sprout new roots.

I needed to sent the sprouts off to Chicago so I could care for the plant over the summer, so I wrapped them in wet paper towels, stuffed them in a Ziploc and headed for the Post Office. I bought a small box, stuffed the Ziploc inside, and stood in line. When I got up to the clerk, I said I wanted the box sent by priority mail. What I should have said was, "overnight" or "express mail." This being Friday, the plant probably wouldn't be delivered until Monday or Tuesday with plain old priority mail, but I wasn't thinking too clearly. I smiled and left.

Walking home, I realized my mistake, and started to mourn for that poor plant. An extra day or two stuffed inside a dark Ziploc would probably kill it. And after all it had already been through! "Fuck mourning," I said. "I've gotta go back to the Post Office."

I waited in line, sending a bunch of people through ahead of me so I could get to the same clerk I'd talked with before. Her name was Anita. I told her I'd goofed, and asked if there was any way to retrieve the box. She asked what city it was addressed to, and then she went off to look for it.

Time passed. I knew she'd never find it. Anita came back once without the box in her hands, and my spirits sunk. But she had only come back to make sure she'd looked around her station at the counter, and she quickly returned to the bowels of the post office again. More time passed. Another employee came out and said that it was probably at the very bottom of the big bin where all the Chicago mail was piled. I had visions of Anita wrestling huge boxes to dig down to the bottom. And what if she didn't find it, after all that work? My plant would die, and Anita would get a herniated disk...

Finally, though, she returned, holding my box and looking smug. I asked if I could send it overnight, and she gave me the express mail form to fill out. She could have berated me for being stupid, but instead she just mentioned that it was Friday the 13th and who'da thunk that anyone would ever find that box again? She asked me if I wanted to waive the signature requirement so that if no one was home the carrier wouldn't keep the box and try again the next day, the way UPS always does it. She credited what I'd already paid for priority mail against the charges for overnight mail. Wow.

People like to say that government-run agencies don't give good service, but that's essentially bullshit. Everything depends on the human being that's serving you, and great people like Anita work at the USPS just like they do at a place like Charlie Trotter's. Kurt Sorenson couldn't have done any better than Anita did today. Thank you, big government bureaucracy!

Comments

You are the coolest ever.

Sometimes the sun shines through. Sometimes.

My father remembers seeing an old letter that had been sent from his great-grandfather to his grandmother, who had just emigrated from Russia to NY. The envelope was merely addressed [something] 14 th St., America. Many people in Europe did not realize how huge the US is, I guess. Anyway, my great-grandmother got the letter, scribbled on the envelope were the words "Try NYC." The Post Office figured (correctly) that it was a letter to a Russian Jewish immigrant. Where was the largest such community? New York. The post office could have been wrong. My great-grandmother could have been in Cleveland or Pittsburgh, but the point is that they tried. They went the extra mile.
My father tells this story as a way of saying that the post office (like everything else) was so much more competant in "the good ol' days." But he is wrong. I'm sure back then there were incompetant folks at the post office, just as there are very competant and hardworking people there today.

I mailed several large boxes of clothes to myself last summer and only realized after returning home that I forgot to write the apartment number on the boxes. One phone call to the post office was all it took; they scrawled the number on the top of each box, since they were still in the back.

My postman, however, is a total ass and leaves my mailbox open all the time so my stuff gets ruined if it rains during the day.