It was 9:00 AM when I got to the post office and there were only 6 people waiting. I got in line before noticing that of the 12 possible windows only one had a clerk behind it. She was in deep conversation with a woman who, I gather, was trying to send a package overseas and needed some detailed advice.
As we stood there, not moving, eight or nine other people joined the line, each alternating between looking at their watches and looking at the clerk.
“Hey”, shouted the small, thin man at the head of the line, “how about opening up some windows?”
“You”, shouted the clerk. “I know you. You’re always making trouble. If you don’t like it, get out. Go somewhere else.”
“Yeah”, I muttered. “You can always use that other Postal Service. And while you’re at it try the other DMV. You know, the one with good service.”
I myself had once tried to find an alternative to the Post Office after a particularly vexing experience made me vow to NEVER SET FOOT IN THAT PLACE AGAIN. Proudly, independently, I marched to The UPS Store with a Christmas package to be sent across the country. Smugly I strode up to the counter and handed the clerk my parcel. No waiting for me, I thought as he put it on the scale. I had beaten them. I had won.
“That’ll be $18.75”, said the clerk.
“What?”, I cried. That was almost as much as the gift had cost. “It doesn’t have to go air mail…”
“Everything here goes ‘air mail’, mister”, he mocked.
Here was a dilemma. I had already not stood in line. I had already beaten the Post Office. I had already won. Did that mean I owed this guy some allegiance? More importantly, did that mean I owed him $18.75?
Ultimately I took my package back to the Post Office where, after a 45-minute wait, I sent it off for $3.95. It cost me 45 minutes but saved me $14.80. For those 45 minutes I was making the equivalent of almost $20 an hour.
I bet that’s more than they make at the Post Office or The UPS Store.
I had beaten them. I had won.