Stuff You Should Know

When I fight authority, authority always wins…


Once again, I want to thank everyone who participated in my last eBay auction—I had put all the DVDs for sale on one of my CD racks and the discs went so fast that there are now two empty shelves (out of a total of four). A gentleman from Brooklyn was nice enough to purchase close to $130 worth of DVDs, so it’s good to know my stuff isn’t too scattered to the four winds.


I’m in the middle of making sure the stuff to be mailed out is all caught up with…but I have to tell you, it’s not easy. I’ve mentioned previously about the hassles I had to endure when mailing stuff to Canada, which is Reason One why I stopped shipping there (and yet, there are still one or two people who will e-mail me during these auctions to ask: “Do you ship to Canada?” I haven’t been able to discern whether they’re just being cute or if their reading comprehension skills aren’t up to par.). Now it would appear that I may not be able to ship to the U.S.


As always, there is a story behind this.


Dad and I went to our Post Office branch this afternoon with about twenty-five packages to mail. Now, every time I attempt to mail out a large number of items like this, I invariably get grief from the people who work there (who apparently don’t have enough to keep them busy) because I’ve went and breached some sort of postal protocol. For example, there’s a guy who works at our branch who tells me he would prefer that I not jam the mailing bin with my packages; instead, I should come around to the side door, ring the buzzer, and he’ll hop out to take the buckets of stuff to be mailed.


But honest to my Grandma, this never works. I ring the buzzer…nothing. I knock on the door…nothing. I don’t know where he is and quite frankly, I don’t care. So, out of frustration and realizing I have better things to do then stand around and wait on these people all day, I (assisted by my trusty sidekick, the Dadmeister) put all of my packages in the bin, taking special care not to jam it. We then beat a hasty retreat.


But as Jack Nicholson so memorably remarks in Terms of Endearment, “I was inches from a clean getaway.” Some officious-looking dame wearing a smock pops out of the side door and asks if I’m the one who put the packages in the bin.


Well, I’m not going to lie to her. “Yes, I am.”


“You’re not allowed to put those in that bin,” she says sternly.


“Well, I would have handed them to someone at the side door but the buzzer seems to be broken. No one answered.”


“This door is not for packages. It’s to be used in the mornings for…”


I interrupted her. “Look…I’m not trying to cause any trouble, ma’am…but every time I come down here to mail something I’m told something different. The last time I was here, I was told to ring the buzzer and someone would pick up the packages. Nobody answered when I did this time,” I said, stressing that last part carefully. “I honestly don’t have time to stand around and wait and I think it’s rude of you to make me do so. That’s why I put the packages in the bin.”


“That bin,” she replies, staring me down, “is for Click-and-Ship customers only. Are you a Click-and-Ship customer?”


“I purchased the labels through Pay Pal,” I replied. “Technically, it’s not Click-and-Ship, but…”


“Then you’re not to use the bin,” she finishes with a flourish.


“Look, when I purchase labels from Pay Pal, it’s done so through USPS. You guys get a record of every label I purchase, because I always specify I want delivery confirmation.”


“That doesn’t matter. If you’re going to purchase labels,” she said, turning toward a machine, “you need to use that machine there. There’s a camera there that will take a picture of you, and your credit card information will be recorded.”


“But Pay Pal gets all that information now,” I responded. “Well, except for the picture…but I don’t photograph that well anyway…”


“You can’t use that bin to mail packages,” she says, returning to her oldie-but-goodie.


“Well, if you don’t mind my asking, why not? I can’t put them in this other bin here,” I pointed to the smaller one on my right, “they won’t fit.”


“Postal regulations,” she replies. She then goes on about some Aviation-something rule, and when she’s finished, I stare at her.


“I have no idea what you just said…try it again in English…”


“We don’t want our customers mailing something like a bomb,” she intones darkly.


“Um…look, when I mail something and put it in that bin—you realize my return address is on that package, right?”


“Yes, it is.”


“Then why the hell would I mail somebody a bomb and put my return address on the package?” My father was doing his best not to laugh, but it wasn’t easy.


I don’t need to relate the rest of this conversation; because you’ve heard it all before (it’s like goddamn Kabuki theater, to be honest). From now on, I’m to go up to the front desk and announce to all the personnel and customers in line that I have packages to mail and need some assistance…and then I’ll probably have to stand and wait an hour, because the line of people usually stretches to Brunswick at that time of the day. (If I were standing in line and some numbnut came in for assistance that would require whatever clerk was waiting on me to drop what s/he was doing, I’d be a bit pissed.) I nearly forgot…while Smock Lady and I are engaging in this predictable badinage, I spot the guy who told me to ring the buzzer in the back and I ask her to bring him out here so we can straighten out just what the rules are supposed to be around here, instead of changing them every time I walk through the door. She says to me—and I swear I’m not making this up: “He does not have the authority to tell you those things, he is only a clerk. “


“Then why did he give me permission to…”


“I will deal with him when I am finished with you.” Kee-rist, it was if I were standing in front of Mr. Harrison’s desk some twenty-five plus years ago at my alma mater, Ravenswood High. Dad must have known that I was about to give this dame a necklace of fingers because he started nudging me toward the door.


You know, I’m practically the easiest person in the world to get along with—but there’s something about these tight-assed officious types that just drives me up the wall…and furthermore, it’s like playing a shell game because they change the rules every time I go in. Ferchrissake, if the clerk isn’t supposed to be telling me this stuff—why the hell is he still working there? I considered asking for a pow-wow with the Postmaster, but then waved the idea off; these government proles stick mindlessly to their agenda regardless of whether it makes sense or not. We Shreves have a long tradition of pissing off the Post Office (ask my sister about her long-running feud with the woman who ran the P.O. in Porterdale, GA sometime) because…well, because we don’t like dealing with stupid people, and my Mom is always worried they’re gonna stop delivering our mail if this keeps up. Fine and dandy with me…the postman brings bills, son!

3 thoughts on “When I fight authority, authority always wins…

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