Going postal

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2005

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I thought I’d stop by the post office and mail out a package for my mom in New York.

Initially, I contemplated taking some time off to visit her this weekend, but after talking with her on the phone and hearing of her plans to head out of town for the weekend to see my step-grandmother in Massachusetts, I thought it might be best to save the nine-hour road trip for a time when I could spend more than 24 hours in her presence.

So, I made what I thought would be a relatively quick trip to the post office and opted to spend the five bucks or so and package it there.

Although I briefly entertained the idea of running back to the house to locate an old box and some newspapers or shredded solicitations from credit card companies in the interest of saving money, I didn’t want to add another 30 minutes to my already extended lunch break and miss out on the opportunity to get ahead of the perpetual newsroom eight ball.

As I walked in, I scanned the room for the area where the boxes were sold and asked the lady behind the counter if I could use their &uot;priority&uot; tape if I indeed paid the &uot;priority&uot; package price.

She very kindly informed me that the box I picked up was not the &uot;priority box&uot; and told me I would need to obtain one from what I assumed would be behind the counter.

Hoping she would take a moment to hand me the box so I could prepare it instead of waiting in line twice, I ended up waiting for her to process the requests of a good four or five people before a second, much-needed employee appeared at the counter.

I expressed my desire to obtain a &uot;priority box&uot; and placed my items on the counter, indicating the box would need to be big enough to hold all of them, only. Instead, I was handed a box too small and too narrow to accommodate the gifts.

Thinking perhaps I had not expressed myself in a manner he understood, I took a deep breath and asked the employee if he had anything large enough to accommodate the items sitting on the counter before him.

Looking at me as if I would have a problem with what he was about to say, he raised his eyebrows and with mild irritation and told me all he had was a flat-rate box for seven dollars and some change.

I told him I didn’t care as long as it fit and let him know I was willing to pay the amount. As he handed me the flattened box and a roll of &uot;priority&uot; tape, I asked if he had a pair of scissors to cut the tape and he retorted that a pen would work just fine and sent me on my way, poised to take the next customer.

His attitude brought to mind a previous encounter I had with him regarding packages that I needed to send to some family members following my dad’s funeral. I asked to borrow some tape and was handed the &uot;priority&uot; roll without being informed of the added cost (this only after I had secured five padded envelopes with it), leaving me to stand there on yet another lunch break to pull off each piece of tape, piece by painstaking piece; a process that took far more time than it would have had they told me that before hand.

Although I realize everyone has their days, the irreverent, cavalier and patronizing attitudes of some of the employees there have left me to wonder whether I might be better off taking my packages elsewhere.

Where I come from, customer service is more than just checking someone out at the register. It’s about going the extra mile to show your patrons how much you value their business.

After all, if my business is too much trouble for them, I’m sure they won’t mind losing a customer. Perhaps if enough people who’ve encountered the same treatment I have did the same, they’d get the message and shape up before their business ships out!