Monday, August 10, 2009

Father of the Bride: Going Postal

Over the weekend I changed my initials:
From FOG, or "Father of the Groom," I have now become FOB, "Father of the Bride." The next wedding is 9 1/2 weeks away.

As you can see, I don't even closely resemble George Banks from the movie series of that title.
I do drive a sporty two-seater, but there the similarities end. I do not own a tuxedo, and will not be singing Tom Jones songs in the attic of The Clanton Hacienda.

The FOB has many duties, but the Prime Directive is to Stay Out of The Way. The Secondary Directive is to be as useful as possible, even if it means leaving the house.

I went to the Post Office today to get some special stamps for the RSVP-cards that will be going out this week in the invitations to my daughter’s wedding…wanted something classy to match the theme of the occasion: A wedding cake stamp, perhaps, or a couple of love birds.

Postage for a Postcard is now 28-cents, and I learned the Post Office doesn’t just print up a bunch of different stamps for a specific denomination—because, as we all know, the USPS is always jacking with the rates… that's another rant for another time (what would George Banks do??)

In my neighborhood near Greater Tomball, there is a fairly large post office. Lots of PO boxes, and a good sized lobby. I walked in the door to become 15th in line, and with three Postal Employees at the front counter, I figured, I’m in and out in ten minutes.

The Postal Worker in Window #3 announced she was accepting mail call slips only, and would not be handing transactions requiring money.
An interesting concept…and particularly frustrating because none of the fifteen in line were there for mail call slips—we needed to spend some money.

Occassionally, some lucky-duck would wander in innocently and get served right away…if she remembered to look up and announce her purpose in life, as defined by the Post Office for the day.

So, I stood in line for nearly a half hour, while the two other clerks diligently—and cheerfully—waited on the restof us, while Miss Mail Slip Lady dutifully handled Mail Call Slips.
Both of them.

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind that wall at the Post Office—the one the postal workers are standing in front of? For all the stamping and tossing of parcels and pieces of mail behind them, into the bowels of the Post Office, I have rarely ever seen anything going on back there. Or heard anything happening, lately. Most Post Offices I've been in lately are quiet as a tomb. Maybe the Mail Fairies come out at night and sort that stuff.

When I finally reached the glorious portal to the service counter, and described what I was looking for—a classy, 28-cent stamp for wedding invitation RSVP’s, the postal worker looked at me with a somewhat condescending expression, and intoned that there was only ONE 28-cent stamp, take it or leave it: A polar bear, leering from an Alaskan-blue background. Didn’t exactly say “come to our wedding” to me. No, this stamp said something more like, "we're coming to your wedding, and we're going to be hungry as bears..."
I know what George Banks' reaction would be to that.

So I thanked the thankless postal worker and walked out of the Post Office into the rest of my life.

Within fifteen-minutes of being home, I found on the Internet the exact stamp I was looking for: An ornate pewter heart on a 42-cent stamp in sheets of 20. Ironic, don't you think, that the Mail Service is losing market share to the Internet, even cannibalizing its own customer base:
The website was for the USPS online.

I wonder if the Mail Slip Madame might also take on the responsibility of announcing that the Post Office has only one style of postcard postage stamp, when people come into the lobby.
She could say that in between her announcements for mail call slips, only.
Would be about as effective.
But I’ll bet it’s not part of her job.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

awww, I didn't realize you stood in line that long...I really appreciated it though. Just don't try to take the hot dog buns out of the bag at the store!