Thursday, September 3, 2009

Going Postal

No, that's not how our postal employees look, but it's not far off, and the building, which was plenty big enough to serve 10,000 patrons a few years ago, before the mass exodus from Little Rock of families with children, struggles to serve 22,000 and growing by 100 families a month. So, in the 6 years we've lived here, I remember twice, maybe 3 times when I didn't have to stand in line half-way out the door to mail a package or buy stamps.

I've sold nearly a hundred of my used, unwanted art books on over the years (and Jim will tell you they can't be missed from the shelves and stacks of other books). It's a pretty cool deal. You just post them, along with your prices and descriptions, and wait till one sells. When it does, notifies you to mail the book to the buyer and deposits your money, minus their commission. Today I had a book to mail to New York, waited my turn, behind people who couldn't make up their minds which postage stamp to buy and others who needed a forklift to bring in their packages. I was torn between whether I wanted the 60 year-old hippie guy with shoulder length blonde hair or the pudgy, motherly looking lady who seemed to have gone to elementary school with most everyone in line.

I got her...............
clerk: What can I do for you today?
me: I want to mail this book.
clerk:Is there anything perishable, liquid or hazardous in the box?
me: No, it's a book.
clerk: Do you want to insure it?
me: No, nothing extra, just try to get it there. (I didn't tell her that insures the books on their end.)
clerk: Do you want it to go by Express Mail?
me: No, just the basic, cheapest way.
clerk: Okay, let's seeeeee, as she begins to tap her computer screen....
touch, touch.....touch, touch, touch.......touch....touch.....
clerk: That will be $7.65.
me: No, that's not right. I never pay more than $2 or $3, even for hardback books; this one's soft cover.
clerk: (Managing to look both blank and exasperated at the same time and hefting the book a couple of times.)
But this one's HEAVY! Okay, let's try something else.
touch, touch.....touch, touch, touch.......touch....touch.....
clerk: That's $7.75 by Express Mail. (Hoping I had forgotten my earlier request.)
me: No, I mail books all the time by Media Mail, and it's always $2 or $3.
clerk: Oh, is it media?
me: Yes, it's a book.
clerk: Well, you didn't tell me that. Is there anything else in the package?
me: No, it's a book.
touch, touch.....touch, touch, touch.......touch....touch.....
clerk: Well then, that will be $2.77.

Now here's the thing, I still think postage is a bargain, even though there's talk that they may stop Saturday deliveries and even though the government constantly seems to be bailing them out. I couldn't have gotten the book to New York for $7.75 on my own, but I have no intention of paying 3 times the going rate, just because the line is now nearly backed up to the train tracks. She apologized, and I said no problem. She said that people sometimes get really upset with her. I just smiled, thinking, I'm not surprised at all.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading that exchange. I live in NZ we have this Trademe thing, a bit like eBay. Perhaps you would like to have a browse: