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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Zip Code Red

Submitted by on December 21, 2007 – 11:45 AM136 Comments

After a 15-minute conversation with Skyrockets the other night in which each of us claimed that our local post office is the worst in Brooklyn — and I’ve gone to his, but mine is Van Brunt Station, and therefore I will always “win” that debate — I thought I’d open a comments thread to let people vent about the post office.

I will say first that not every outpost is bad. I lived near Murray Hill Station for years and years and I got spoiled by that place. And the problem is not always the post office or its employees; people really can’t expect to come to the P.O. with a bag full of presents, then stand at the window wrapping them and packing their boxes and filling out their customs forms while three dozen people who did all that shit at home wait in line.

But God forbid you get an orange pick-up slip that sends you to Van Brunt Station, for real. You can see the packages lined up alphabetically, but apparently the staff isn’t familiar with the English alphabet, or maybe those packages are just for show and the real packages are three blocks away, because it takes 15-20 minutes for the guy to retrieve one box (and that’s not counting the signature and the showing ID and blah blah blah).

Go on; let it out. ‘Tis the season. Woefully unprepared fellow customers? Two clerks at the windows at lunchtime on December 20? Get it out of your system. I’m here for you.

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136 Comments »

  • BetsyD says:

    Chicago may be Second City in relation to New York, but its post offices are, bar none, the worst I’ve ever encountered. You will never see human beings move more slowly. There’s no way a Brooklyn post office can compete with that kind of lassitude and ineptitude.

  • Elena says:

    Dear Post ‘Office’ stall, Fanueil Hall, Boston,

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP TRYING TO SELL ME COLLECTIBLE STAMPS. I AM NOT A PHILATELIST. I JUST WANT TO SEND A FRIGGIN’ POSTCARD.

    Yours etc.,
    Elena

  • Dan says:

    Well a vent not about the post office but about the postal service in general. I understand that they get a lot of mail and sometimes mail gets messed up. But that little snide note that they put in there with your destroyed mail when they send it back to you drives me crazy.

    Something like “Oh. Sorry about that.”

  • Melanie says:

    I’ve got no beef with the post office, but how about Fed Ex? I had to pick up a package last night that required a signature. I got there at 8, they close at 8:30, I was still there at 8:45.

    I get that it’s Christmas, and it’s busy – and to their credit, they were all very polite and nice – but I’m not sure what good it does to ask for 5 pick up slips at a time, log them, go to the back and come back empty handed three times, ask for five more pick up slips, log those, go to the back and come back empty handed twice, ask for 5 MORE pick up slips . . . you get the idea.

    So then you’ve got twenty people crowded on one side waiting for packages, and it’s inevitably mine that never comes out of the back until I see everyone who was behind me in line get their packages and leave (this time through the door behind the counter because they’ve locked the main entrance) and go ask the guy to check on it.

    45 minutes to get one teeny tiny package. But it was my iPod, back from Apple hell, so I suppose it was worth it.

  • Jess says:

    I’ve got two words for you: Church. Avenue. It makes Van Brunt look like a magical toyland of sunshine and rainbows, and it’s a good half-mile hike from the Q train. There’s never been a line of fewer than 20 people anytime I’ve been there. The building’s falling apart.

    The only good thing is that Veggie Castle is on the way, and it’s incredibly delicious.

    Also, my office is closing at 2 and I’m on my way to the Penn Station mothership, which is around the corner from here, to mail a box to my family. Clearly I am insane.

  • k says:

    I love my post office! Well, for work, I have to go to my city’s main one. For bulk mail specifically, and those bulk mail guys are super helpful and really nice. Which is also where the work mail to the po box comes and my personal po box (super helpful because we’ve had issues with peeps stealing things at my apartment complex) – again, the people I deal with are made of awesome. And they generally have all five/six stations open every time I’ve been there this month.

    Though, dayum, I had to go to the one nearest to our office which is much smaller and seriously – December 19th, 4pm, and they had ONE station open. When they saw the line, they opened ONE MORE. Ugh. If the guy behind me in line hadn’t been very cute, I’d’ve been incredibly pissed.

  • Karen says:

    I used to work in Union Square and had to go to Cooper Station all the time.

    I ask you: is there no better way for you to communicate instructions about different kinds of mailings than to have an ill-coiffed postal employee shout the same speech at the echo-y ceilings every 90 seconds whilst giving the air of thinking you are an idiot if you do not already know these things and also expecting a whole bunch of people to step off the line to the use the APC and be DAMN GRATEFUL he told us about it?

    Dude? It’s right there. I can see it. If I could use it, I would, but every time my boss sent me there, she gave me cash. Also, perhaps wait until most of the people in the line have dispersed before repeating your speech because OW, my eardrums.

  • Tim says:

    Y’all can step off, because there is no worse post office in Brooklyn than the 11238 branch on Fulton at St. James. Aside from the depressing ghetto-ness of the place, it is staffed by Patty and Selma wanna-bes who take to heart the phrase “Some days we don’t let line move at all. We call those ‘weekdays’.”

    I’ve given up entirely and have all important mail sent to me at my office.

  • Sars says:

    Also a brutalizing experience: Parkville Station on beautiful 20th Ave. Never more than two clerks working, ever; one of them is usually devoted to the passport window, and the other one is reserved for Mandarin-speakers, which is a nice idea in theory, but doesn’t do much good for the English-, Italian-, and Spanish-speakers who make up 98 percent of the line. Which is out the door. Which is handy, actually, because when your triple-parked LeSabre gets clipped by a garbage truck — which it will — you’ll have loads of eyewitnesses.

    And maybe get that gas leak looked at. The place always smelled like propane; every time someone made a cell-phone call, I was like, “Aaaaaand fireball.” Never happened, but it will.

  • Kate says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that every post office in town sucks, so now I just drive ten minutes out of my way to the one near my old job. Sure, they’re just as slow as the one down the street from me, but at least the guys who work there are snarky and fabulous.

    It took me an hour and a half to mail my Christmas presents this year, but I had fun – customers would yell good-naturedly at the workers for going too slow, and they’d heckle us back about not being ready when we got up to the counter. When an old lady tried to cut in line, a bunch of people jumped down her throat, and she called them all bitches.

    Two of the postal workers went to lunch at the same time, but the two guys who were left assured us that those guys sucked and were slow, and we wouldn’t even notice. Another guy who was just out in the line expediting the process kept telling us that he wanted to be on register, but his supervisor wouldn’t let him, and he offered to give out his superviser’s home phone number so we could harass him over the slow service.

    Anyway, it was chaos, but we had a good time, and we all bonded. Still, it made me glad I only go to the post office once a year.

  • Janna says:

    I admit, I live in a small city in Canada, so I have no experience with USPS or 20-person lines. However, here’s how to work with the post office in my city:

    Step 1: Buy a house with a possession date of about a month and a half away. And because you are, for once, organized…..

    Step 2: Take a change of address form to the post office 3 weeks before you are moving.

    Step 3: Wonder why you are not getting bills at your apartment.

    Step 4: Move into new house and find an inch-high stack of mail that has been going to the new address for three weeks. Get mad. Observe late charges that will be put on utility bills now.

    Step 5: Attend post office and complain that this happened, make them aware of situation. Accept solution that “someone was on holidays.” Stalk away.

    Step 6: Wonder why you are not getting bills at your house.

    Step 7: Attend old apartment (which you still have possession of), remove bills from mailbox. Get very mad.

    Step 8: Attend post office and complain again. Wonder whether “someone was on holidays” means that for the next 6 months every time “someone” goes on holidays the young men who sublet your apartment will be getting your mail. Remind postal employees that you paid for this “service.”

    Step 9: Resign self to the fact that this will not matter, change address with everyone you can think of. Tell everyone you know (and now, people you don’t).

  • Syne says:

    I am in love with my local post office. They have this huge sign in the window saying NO CELL PHONES, like most places, but they actually turn people away if they’re yaking into their bluetooth. The clerks see someone on a phone, they point to the door, tell them to finish their conversation outside, and then take the next person in line. Awesome!
    Last time I went to buy stamps, it was like Christmas came early:

  • ferretrick says:

    Y’know, I do blame the postal clerks somewhat when the customers are taking up the window without their forms ready, or still trying to seal their packages, because those people should be told to go to the back of the line. Period. Or, at the very least, step aside while they wait on the next customer and then you.

    And a general bitch about the postal service-hello? It would be real helpful to our business if you would assign them one carrier, and one route, and get the mail there at a consistent time every day, preferably BEFORE 3:00 p.m.!

  • klm says:

    My neighborhood in San Francisco is pretty much all renters, which means that virtually everyone in line is trying to pick up packages. This time of year, that means a line out the door, and yesterday morning, one of the people who got there too late (read: five minutes after opening) to have any hope of getting out at a decent hour immediately started yelling at the rest of us about how we were standing in line wrong. *Standing in line wrong!* Apparently we were supposed to be wrapped around the mostly broken line markers in a different way, and our way personally offended him. For the love …

    Anyway, then the postal clerks attempted to help things by asking for anyone who was just picking up packages to go stand in another line. And that, naturally, was 95 percent of the line. ARGH.

    I can’t say enough good about the Automated Postal Center thingie, though. I don’t think I’d ever mail anything if not for that.

  • Celli says:

    I picked up a package at my local post office here in Chicago (near Lawrence and Western in Ravenswood) precisely once before getting a box at the UPS Store. I swear to God this is where the Twilight Zone picks up their mail. Not only was it incredibly slow and incredibly inefficient, but one employee was dancing in place. Just…dancing. Another had a customer in front of her she apparently didn’t like, because she was giving a running commentary on how much she sucked–to the thin air directly in front of said customer, who just tried to ignore her. Incredibly surreal.

  • Kate says:

    Well, it looks like the post office is now employing illiterate people down here in the South. For instance, when you write FRAGILE FRAGILE FRAGILE FRAGILE FRAGILE FRAGILE FRAGILE FRAGILE on every side of the box, and then the postal employee THROWS your box 20 feet through the air into a bin and then can’t understand why you yell at him in front of 30 people (and tries to tell you that it didn’t break and then ignores you).

    And, for the record, it DID in fact break. Smashed to bits. Merry Christmas, dear friends. Here’s some pottery I personalized for you. Oh, wait. Never mind. Here are tiny, sad shards of ceramic. ENJOY.

    Hate.

  • Susanna says:

    Chicago’s post offices are the depths of hell to which all the others only aspire to. Busted vending machines, lines stretching for ever and a day, eye-rolls and snippy comments from the staff when you ask anything, such as “why can’t I use my debit card for this?” and the worst delivery times/people in the country.

    Shockingly enough, though, I go in to the main post office downtown two days ago, and a cheerful employee takes my stamped and labeled packages from me so I don’t have to stand in line, and wishes me a Happy Holiday season. I think this may have been the day that the aldermen were observing the postal staff, which may have helped with the attitude. And they were stamped and labeled already.

  • Melissa says:

    I am lucky enough to work right across the street from my hometown post office (Barrington, IL) , and they are actually pretty awesome. I’ve listened to the clerk patiently explain to an elderly woman the intricacies of forwarding mail to her sister’s house in Door County half the year, and to their house in Florida the other six months.

    And the other day when I went to get Christmas stamps, another older man had collapsed in the lobby (I walked in right behind the EMTs), and everyone had gotten out of line to: get something to put over him, collect his spilled packages, and keep him calm. When the EMTs left with him, everyone sorted themselves back into line and carried on. No muss, no fuss…kinda puts you in the Christmas mood…

  • Cindi in CO says:

    I once had a letter take 32 days to go 41 miles. No shit. And it wasn’t even Christmas.

  • Hannah says:

    I once had a poster shipped to me in one of those cylindrical poster…boxes? Anyway, it arrived partially, um, torn in half–obviously crushed under something with a bit of weight (a fork lift, maybe?), with clear packaging tape messily wrapped around the gash. When I went to the post office to mail it “return to sender,” the woman at the counter spent 10 minutes accusing me of having opened the package myself. Yeah, with my teeth?

  • Slices says:

    I keep thinking of that SNL skit with Maya Rudolph doing the surly post office window clerk, with the fake nails and such. Hilarious. Anyway, the clerks at my post office are nothing like Maya in that skit, they’ve adopted a completely new, friendly, customer service-oriented approach. Yes! So that as the line snaking out the door at lunch hour waits, and grows, and waits, they’re busying themselves with the same two customers who appear to have finished their business. Anything else today? How bout that weather? Need any stamps? Need a money order? Is your passport up to date? Perhaps the post office has become an Ann Taylor-esque commission-based endeavor?

  • Whitney says:

    The only thing I miss about the hellhole apartment in the 11219 code where I used to live is that the post office was open until 3 on Sundays (since it’s right in the middle of the Hasidic section) and right next to the D, so if I couldn’t go on the weekend I could stop by on my way to work and it didn’t take forever. Now I have to go to the 11220 station, which actually runs pretty well (they have a separate line solely for package pickup which is usually all I want), but is nowhere near any form of public transportation and is only open until noon on Saturday — which means I have to get myself up and motivated to take a twenty minute (one way) walk if I’m going to pick up a package.

    I do have to say that, though it gets crazy busy at times, there’s at least one employee at the post office on Greene St. in SoHo who is really helpful and doesn’t treat you like an idiot when you confuse Priority Mail with Express Mail.

  • Bb says:

    I like the guy who decided to use the self-weigh/pay computer to send ALL 12 of his packages. Those of us who wanted to buy stamps and get out were stuck in the long line for the counter shooting darts at Mr. “I can just address these while I hog the machine for an hour.”

    Also? My mail comes to a lock box in our neighborhood, and my carrier has decided that when I have packages that don’t fit in the box, I don’t need to be notified. THEN, s/he’ll leave a “final notice” in my box…as if I had any clue there was something to be picked up in the first place.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Shotrock says:

    I’ve got no beef with the post office, but how about Fed Ex?

    Oh word. Back in June 2006, I had extremely important EurRail passes sent FedEx overnight to be delivered before 10:30 AM (and paid greatly for the privilege) as I was leaving for Italy the next day. Because they were rail passes, they had to be signed for; FedEx just couldn’t leave them.

    So: I get up, have breakfast, sign into my work server to telecommute, and wait.

    And wait.

    And wait.

    Finally, about 1:30 PM I go on FedEx’s site and look up my tracking #. It says “delivery attempted” at 9:45 but there was nobody home. WTF? I go down to the front door of my apartment building and expect to see one of those sticky forms on the door. Nada, nothing.

    I called FedEx and reamed them a new one, let me tell you. I explained that I did not “step out”, that there is a VERY LOUD BUZZER for my apartment, and that the driver lied, basically – if he did attempt delivery, why wasn’t a form left behind? – and that the tickets had better get their asses in my hand before nightfall or I’d know why not.

    I am convinced the driver had a lot of “deliver before 10:30 AM” packages and assumed that since mine was going to a residential address, there wouldn’t be anyone home during the day and he could just skip it and concentrate on the deliveries with business addresses.

    I mean, seriously wrap your head around this: FedEx just SKIPPING a delivery b/c the dude’s all “Oh, they’ll be at work anyway.”

    In other news from your 908 posse: New Providence P.O. is great — friendly staff, extended hours. Summit? Meh.

  • Wendy says:

    I’ve live in North Pole, Ak and it is utter chaos at my local PO at the holidays. Not only do you have all the morons with their 20+ boxes they still have label, (and can they borrow some packing tape please?) but you get all the extra people from out of town who want the North Pole Santa post mark on all their letters and packages as well. A short wait in line this time of year is half an hour.

    I was there two days ago to pick up a parcel. The part time clerks were just calling out for pick ups in the line, since some had packages to mail and pick up, so if you had a pickup, you’d stand in line just like everybody else and sometimes you made it up to the window as the line progressed, sometimes you got to step out and make your pick up without having to wait for all the mailers to get their stuff done, depending on how fast the pick up clerks hustled.

    The pick up clerks were really hustling that day and I was one person away from being able to step out of line and get my pick up when all of a sudden 3 people from the very back of the 30 people line crowd up to the front to make their own line. One these jerks had the nerve to actually complain about people who don’t wait their turn in line and come from the back to cut everybody off! She was griping about her own behavior! And she tried to take my packages, since my clerk was faster than hers and got my stuff before her clerk came back. Her logic was that she was there first (she cut) and so she should get her stuff first, even if it meant taking my stuff I guess. Some people!

  • Leigh in CO says:

    Ah – and “tracking” packages using the USPS system? Ridonkulous. You get an entry that the package was received at origination, and….a delivery notification if you’re lucky. If something gets lost in the middle, even postal workers can’t help you, because they use the same system on their side. The best they can tell you is, “It’s somewhere between where it was picked up and where it’s supposed to be delivered. Can’t give you more than that.” ARGH.

  • Amber says:

    Whenever I go to the post office, or to the DMV, I come out the most cold-hearted capitalist ever. Say what you will about executive compensation, but at least we can drive those mofos out of business.

  • Jenn says:

    @BetsyD: amen on the Chicago post office suckage! We live on the south side, and I would say that probably 1 in 3 of our magazine subscriptions either never shows up or arrives completely mangled. We avoid the campus post office like the plague, out of a (well-founded) fear of employees there going postal.

  • Barb says:

    The worst I can say about my post office is that they can’t read very well and frequently put mail in the wrong box. They’re usually pretty nice about it though. As a bonus, they’ve had coffee and cookies out all month to ease the pain of waiting.

  • Marie says:

    Word to the Fed Ex complaint! We once specifically waited at home for a package, watching out our windows, for our blinds to be delivered. We saw the truck pull up, no one get out, and then the status message on the tracking site shifted to “Delivered attempted”. Our phone call to Fed Ex was met with “oh, well we can TRY to redeliver it, but it’s on the truck, and we can’t get in contact with our driver right now. Can you pick it up tonight instead?”

    Grrr….

  • Chyna says:

    I live in a smallish suburb of Chicago with two post offices that could not be more opposite–the one on the rich side of town is small and cramped with surly employees and no parking, and the one on the regular side of town (my side) is big and sunny with super-nice, fast-working employees and a big parking lot. They’re less than 2 miles apart, so it baffles me that anyone goes to the first one. All I can figure is that the rich folks won’t deign to travel to our side of town and therefore don’t know what they’re missing.

  • Marisa says:

    Y’know, my local post office, though slow, is actually (under-)staffed by a nice bunch of folks. Helpful, etc.

    My mail carrier, though – WOW. I know way too much about the court summons, welfare checks, and child-custody disputes of my neighbors, because apparently the carrier is unable to deliver these items correctly.

    Also, and maybe this is back to the post office again, they have *twice* randomly decided to mark all of my mail “return to sender – addressee unknown” and then vehemently denied that this could have happened. Meanwhile, my mortgage company and student loan holders are flipping out, because they feel I’m defaulting on their loans by moving without telling them (which I guess is what they assume when they get returned mail). Argh.

  • Sara says:

    Dudes? Small town New Mexico post office. I don’t think I need to say any more except OH WAIT, I do, because they have so far returned the mail I am trying to forward to my mother FOUR TIMES, with no rhyme or reason beyond a POST-IT NOTE that says, “We are sorry, it is unclear what you want us to do with this mail,” like, maybe the CLEAR BLOCK LETTERING that says “Please forward to [address]” is a little too AMBIGUOUS for you, so sorry, I’ll look into donating to that LITERACY PROGRAM our school system is so gung ho for, because DAMN.

    (Run-on rants: they’re the new black.)

  • Mollie says:

    Once I went to my local post office (on West 104th St. near Broadway) to send a package. I’d been standing in the (long, quiet, not-moving) line for several minutes when a couple of police officers walked in. I gathered, from the conversation I observed, that a woman near the middle of the line had called them to complain about something a couple of men standing near the front of the line had said or done to her. They spoke to her, spoke to the men, and left. I have no clue what went on before I arrived; all I know is, it was enough to make this lady call the cops, but not enough to make her get out of the line. If that doesn’t sum up the purgatorial experience of being at the post office — and the creative ways one’s fellow customers manage to push it over the top of “purgatory” and into “hell” — I don’t know what does.

  • Sars says:

    I will also add that the P.O. Box Honcho at Parkville was so rude that I LOST it and started yelling — which I don’t ordinarily do, mostly because it doesn’t do any good (I mean, like she gives a shit that I’m stomping out of there and straight to Mailboxes Etc.), but I had had it.

    Another location featuring overly salty employees: North Eastham, MA. It’s a vacation community, boss; if you’re going to get that bent about people asking for postcard stamps, maybe you should ask for a transfer.

    My postal carrier is okay, although I’m positive he’s reading my Entertainment Weeklys and then delivering them when he’s done.

    The APCs are a godsend, but here’s a tip for those of you who have a lot of packages and haven’t used the machine before — offer to let people with only a couple of things, or who can run through their stuff faster, go ahead of you. It’s good karma and you won’t have to feel the stinkeyes when you’re taking forever to make each selection (and thanks to all the menu additions trying to upsell you on delivery confirmation and so on, there are about 20 selections per transaction).

  • Amie says:

    I never took for granted I’d ever get mail when I lived in New Orleans(even pre-Katrina). It just… sometimes never came or seemed as if it was routed through somewhere remote across the globe before it eventually reached me.

    I once had a complete graduate school application package, for which I was under a strict deadline and had paid for all of the components to be expedited to me so I could fulfill the requirement that they be mailed together with original documents (transcripts, sealed recommendations, etc), and sent it “delivery confirmation”… it never arrived to its destination, and the tracking website listed it as “delivered”… to somewhere in NEW YORK, which was many, many states away from NEW ORLEANS, where it was supposed to go. I thought maybe the person who received it would send it back, but it never happened. I spent about $110 on that school application and had to start all over again. The P.O. had me fill out a complaint form, but the form was very specific and didn’t cover my problem. I never heard anything about it again.

    Also? Once, when I lived in DC, I never got a video I ordered, but it was probably for the best. In a weird moment of dementia, I had ordered that dance video “Darren’s Dance Grooves” or whatever it was called, but some guy who choreographed for Boy Bands and Britney.

  • Amanda Cournoyer says:

    The West Kingston post office was dead the one time I went in there and the lady at the counter took my package right away. The Kingston post office was similarly dead the one time I went in there, but I had to ring a bell and wait ten minutes for service. And I know the lady wasn’t on the pooper ’cause I heard her yakking in the back of the office.

    The PO in my town…I can’t say I’ve had bad service, but the building is in the WORST. LOCATION. EVER. It’s on a four-lane road (the main road in town), up the street from the high school, between a bank and an apartment complex. It’s actually almost in the next town, and 90% of the people who need to get there are coming from the north and west, so they have to turn left to get into the lot. There’s no traffic light. There are accidents up there constantly, the parking lot is tiny, and the lot entrance is invisible (especially now when there’s a foot of icy snow on the ground). That’s why I mail all my packages from South County instead of from my own goddamn zip code.

    And I hate FedEx/DHL/UPS/take your pick, too, but that’s because I work in material control and we use those companies for shipping. They all suck in their own special ways. DHL drivers should also learn to quit throwing boxes around. Every box I get from them is damaged. FedEx also seems to have a problem marking delivery slips correctly. And DHL’s tracking information always sucks.

  • Jo says:

    The post offices in my town in Oregon are pretty great, but they seem to have issues with magazines.

    Last year, I subscribed to Harper’s. Two months later, no magazine. I called and they told me they’d sent my first issue weeks ago. I called the post office. When the manager returned my call he said the mail carrier “remember delivering a Harper’s Bazaar to your address.” Uhm, great, but not the same publication. I call Harper’s and they send a replacement issue. This goes on for the next three months (it’s a monthly magazine). I call and have replacement issues sent, they keep extending my subscription to make up for it (I’ve gotta say, the customer service people at Harper’s are awesome.). Finally, the post office put a watch on my magazines (I get two others, neither of which I’d ever had a problem with). Every month around the date the magazine should have come, the manager called me. It took about five months before the magazines actually came when they were supposed to.

    A couple of months ago, I got an issue of one of my other magazines about two months after it came out (my subscription had run out, so I hadn’t expected this one) with the spine creased and the covers, which were no longer attached, held on with rubber bands.

  • JMR says:

    My main beef with the post office is that I can never understand why, when I receive a package or a letter that is too large to fit into my teeny, tiny mail slot, they sometimes leave the package at the door, and sometimes, they take it back to the post office and leave you a slip that it needs to be picked up. I can understand that they would have you pick it up at the post office if it were insured or required a signature, but sometimes they do that with stuff that was sent by, like, 12th class mail. I would actually prefer that they leave the packages, because although I live in a city (Columbus, OH), I live in a relatively quiet neighborhood where stuff is unlikely to be stolen, especially since the house is set back from the street and the porch is covered and recessed. I really hate when I have to haul to the post office and wait in line for a million hours, when they could have just dropped it at the door in the first place.

    But the worst is when you sign the slip that authorizes them to redeliver it and leave it there, and the package never comes. And then you head to the post office to pick it up, but they tell you that they can’t let you have it without the slip. And then you ask to speak to their supervisor, and explain that you had signed the slip but that the package was never redelivered like it should have been. And then they ask you for your ID, and they freak that your address does not match the address on your license, and you spend 20 minutes explaining that you moved 3 years ago, and while you registered your address change with the DMV, they do not print out new licenses for address changes in Ohio. And then you provide your passport (which has an even older address), an SSN card (which has no address at all) and some current bills, to prove your identity and your address, and then when they finally agree to hand your package over, they had back into the mailroom and fail to find the package. They arm you with a handful of phone numbers and promise to try to locate the package and call you when they have information. Of course, no information is forthcoming. And then, about three weeks later, the package myseriously turns up on your doorstep, completely unopened.

    In any case, it’s not the labor of picking it up, so much as the inconsistency that kills me – for example, I ordered two items from Amazon, to be shipped in exactly the same way (their bottom-of-the-line, 7-10-day freebie shipping), and the packages arrived two days apart – but one was left at the door, and the other one was taken back to the post office.

  • Tina says:

    I live in a very small town, with a very unmotivated postal office. I once mailed an invitation to the neighbors across the street. I am at 7 X steet, they are at 8 X street. It was returned to me over a week later, with a stamp reading “no such address”. I walked across the street and put it in their mailbox myself (which if I recall correctly, is a violation of some federal law) We now just bring invitations to each other’s doors and stick them under.

  • bristlesage says:

    Celli, that is a CRAP post office. Our mail comes out of the Lakeview office at Irving and Southport, and we are now happier. Not overjoyed, but happier.

    Susanna, I love the main post office. Love it. It’s never been anything less than awesome when I’m in there, and I work in a tax department, so I see it at one of its worst times.

    Overall, FedEx and I get along okay. They leave the packages if I sign their little slip, anyway. But me and UPS are in such a battle that I’ve stopped using websites that ship exclusively with them. Hatey hate hate.

  • Marnie says:

    I’m another Chicagoan (local post office is at Grace and Kedzie), and I had to cancel my Netflix subscription because 6 movies failed to make it to my mailbox in about a three month period. A package from Amazon just disappeared somewhere between the post office and my apartment. I got so fed up that I switched all my bills to online pay, and all packages now get delivered to my parent’s house in Highland Park. It’s a pain in the butt to pick them up, but at least I know they will actually be delivered!

  • camelama says:

    I never go to our local post office because there is NO PARKING. And no, it’s not in a pedestrian-friendly area. Nor is it on a bus route. It’s this unattainable building. BUT – I swear my postal carrier sits on his ass in his truck, smoking, every day without delivering mail, until Thursdays when he delivers your week’s worth of mail all in one batch. Mon? Zilch. Tues? Zilch. Wed? Zilch. Thurs? Mailbox stuffed and everything crammed in, bent and broken and folded, packages and letters, rain coming in because the door won’t close etc etc. PLUS everything REEKS of smoke. REEKS. I brought the mail in one day and couldn’t stop coughing for about 5 minutes, it STANK so badly. This guy not only smokes, he smokes the WORST cigarettes in the world. It’s like a burnt wet dog smell. Horrific.

    Then every Friday, my neighbors and I exchange all the mail that he got wrong. And then repeat next Thurs/Fri.

    I’ve called and complained, and been told that my carrier is actually an award-winning carrier. Lordy lordy lordy.

  • Chris says:

    I once received my Entertainment Weekly about a week late, and with a mustache and goatee drawn on the face on the front with a ballpoint pen. Now tell me that magazine wasn’t on the back of the toilet in the breakroom at the post office for a week!

  • The post office is the place where liberalism goes to die.

  • Jeanne says:

    I’ve never had a problem with the post office, mainly because I only ever use the one at the upscale-ish mall on my way to work. They have a seperate station away from the main counter where folks can buy things like stamps and boxes, and it makes everything go much quicker. During peak hours they also have an employee who walks around and helps people with the APM and forms and whatnot. And they’re open until 7pm on weekdays which is awesome. My uncle has been a mail sorter for several decades so I often get to hear about what really goes on behind the scenes at a post office. It’s scary sometimes.

  • Jess says:

    @ JMR: I live in Columbus, too, and had the very same problem. I asked my carrier to leave all packages that didn’t need a signature by the back door, and haven’t had a problem since (…with USPS–FedEx packages are another issue, and are all routed to the spouse’s office, where they actually shift themselves to get out of the truck.)

    My worst post office experiences took place in Philadelphia, notably when a mail-order prescription of 6 months worth of birth control pills never arrived. Neither did a response to my complaint.

  • Liz says:

    First off: “Darrin’s Dance Grooves” is awesome. It might deserve a recap. Also, one day I was in the Mall of America for some damn thing, and there in the rotunda? Darrin, dancing groovily.

    The Minneapolis Main post office is also awesome. First of all, it’s a fabulous Deco building, with the original tables and gleaming brass railings and intricate little PO box doors and everything. Secondly, the clerks all know me by sight and are always very friendly – and it takes them only about a minute to get my packages from a distant back room. They’re so nice I want to take them cookies or something for Christmas, but I imagine they’re a little leery of that sort of thing these days.

    There are often idiots in line in front of me, but that’s just humanity. They’re everywhere. There’s no escape. I also often resent the parking options as well, but that’s what I get for driving downtown.

    UPS isn’t too bad – although the bridge collapse cut off the only easy way to get there from my place – but FedEx and DHL are in the middle of nowhere, with limited hours, and I always dread ordering from catalogs and the occasional eBayer who uses her workplace’s shipping service for sending out auctions, for fear they’ll use those services.

    The one thing I do mind about the USPS is that I don’t always have the same carrier, and one of them likes to leave packages on my doormat – in the hallway of an apartment building downtown. My neighbors are pretty trustworthy, but I’ve resigned myself to asking for either insurance or a signature-required service on everything too big to fit in my mailbox.

  • Hawkeyegirl says:

    I can’t blame this little story entirley on the post office, but damn, was it frustrating!

    I moved back to my suburb of Des Moines after college. I knew I would be moving around the town a bit, as I got a job, found a decent apartment (hard to do for some reason the metro area) and such, so I went to get a box to get my mail. The ladies at the counter all knew my mom, who had a box there as well, back when I was in high school. Thinking it was cute, they offered me my mom’s old box, as it was empty, #701. Now, I know I should have sensed the danger in this plan, but I didn’t and said, ‘sure.’

    About a month later my mom calls, telling me she has a bunch of my mail and asking why I had it forwarded to her (she now lives in a small town about 30 minutes away). I huffed and went to the post office to figure it out. It turned out that box #701 had been open the whole two years between it being my mom’s box and mine. When she had closed it, she had her mail forwarded to her. Somehow, that forwarding was still in place, only in MY name now. The clerk said they’d get it all fixed up and I wouldn’t have to worry anymore.

    Huh.

    Two months later, not only was it still happening but somehow, a few of the companies that mailed things to me (mostly catalogs and magazines) had actually changed their records to my MOM’s address, completly removing the Box info I’d given them. Livid, I made about a dozen calls in one day to get it all straighted out. Then I went back to PO and firmly asked that it be sorted out. Once again, I was assured all would be well with a week.

    Liars.

    It took over a YEAR to get it sorted out. My mom still gets some of my junk mail, but the important things wind up in the box (along with about 15lbs of junk mail, like local free papers and the high school newsletter; do I really give a rat’s ass about the high school glee club?). It took two letters inumerable phone calls and in person requests to get it all done. Now I’m thinking of changing cities and am terrified at the prospect of asking them to forward things to me in another state.

    I know its partially my fault for going along with whole idea in the first place, but the PO really dropped the ball on this one.

  • Andrea says:

    WORD on the Lawrence Ave. office in Chicago. I shudder just thinking about it.

    I have shuned that and now go to the teeny PO by my office in Evanston, which has ony two counters and takes just as long as the larger one with eight counters, but is much more friendly. The poor guy, though – I was in there on the 19th and he kept trying to joke with everyone, except no one was in the mood. When I told him I was shipping something breakable, he joked he’d have to charge me to stamp the package “Fragile.” He felt so bad when he saw the look on my face he gave me a Hershey’s Kiss to make up for it.

    I miss the post office I had in Baltimore – two cheery, plump ladies always having a good time behind the counter, and so sweet that even when it DID take a long time, which was harldy ever because they were SO efficient, you couldn’t be mad.

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