Another Blow to the Empire

Dear Sir or Madame,

Today I went to mail a package to my grandmother in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio - a task which required my making use of your facilities here in Park Slope, Brooklyn; a task which also seemed, at the outset, like it shouldn't be too difficult to execute. Mailing a package. How could I fail?

While it was not the most difficult thing I've ever gone through in my life, it ranks surprisingly high on the list: I would put it somewhere between my Mother's bout with breast cancer and the time I was hit by a car while on my bicycle and hospitalized.

I understand that our elected officials here in New York City, and really at all levels of government seem hellbent on creating some kind of nightmarish Orwellian totalitarianism where forms need to be filled out in order to fill out another form and so on. So I sympathize with you because I'm sure this kind of atmosphere is created at the top and you're doing the best you can within the parameters in which you're forced to operate.

So here's a couple of things that seem obvious to me and, I imagine, anyone who has visited this particular branch; just a couple of ideas that seem to have eluded the powers that be at the New York City Post Office.

First of all, when the post office was set up initially, it's creators probably asked the question "will people need pens at the post office?". Somehow they arrived at the conclusion that no, they wouldn't - but the answer is actually yes! People do need pens at the post office! Let me just take a pause here to let this point sink in........ I was today able to succeed where the Post Office has failed and observe that the lack of pens is problematic. The reason for this? Almost everyone who enters the Post Office will need a pen (for writing). (on letters and packages). The reason that people need to write on packages is because they need to "mail" them to "destinations", destinations which are denoted by addresses on the packages which need to be written (by pens), so it might make sense to have some, because mailing packages is kind of "your thing". I know what you're thinking - "but people will just steal our pens! What a waste of time and money!". I had the same thought myself. Then I remembered about the several thousand times I have visited a bank in my life; there was something about those visits; I was able to write things even though I myself was not in possession of a pen. The banks had their own pens, and they were made difficult to steal because they were attached by a beaded chain to the counter! This is just the kind of cutting edge technology that the Post Office of New York City should employ.

Luckily I did manage to find, deep in the recesses of my bag, my own pen. As I wrote out my grandmother's address I realized I didn't know her zip code. No problem I thought, I'll just look it up in the zip code finder. But there was no zip code finder to be found. (You should probably have one of those too but we'll avoid that point for now) No problem, I thought again, they'll just look it up for me when I get up to the window. They are the post office after all. This sort of thing is their bag. This sort of thing must happen often, if not all the time.

Imagine my surprise when I finally got to the window after having waited 45 minutes in line (a wait which was certainly exacerbated by the people who had already waited in line going back to the front of the line because something about their packages had not met the rigorous standards of the New York City Post Office the first time around) - I was told that looking up the zip code would be impossible. "You don't know the zip code?" the woman behind the glass said to me. "I don't have that, no, sorry" I said. "Well you need to look it up over there" she said to me, awesomely. "You mean you can't look it up for me?" I said. The woman behind the glass told me that, well, she could but next time I had better look it up myself, or something like that. Relieved, I said thank you.

Then she turned to talk to the woman next to her, who informed her that I would have to look it up myself at what she called "the machine". My woman related this to me and I said, incredulously, "You mean you can't look up a zip code? But you're the Post Office... Isn't this kind of thing your deal?" I was told that her "machine" is "really slow".

What kind of machine could she be talking about? Does the machine that the Post Office uses to look up zip codes not use the recent technology called "the internet" which actually operates at the speed of light? What sort of device did they have back there? Could it really be as hard as this woman was making it sound? I was to go look up the zip code myself on "the machine over there" and then come back up to front of the line just like the other people that had caused the bottleneck I previously described in paragraph 6.

I found another long line at "the machine" which looks up zip codes. But by then it was too late. I had run out of time and I had to go. So another thing I think the Post Office might want to think about incorporating is the internet. It's great! It's so fast, really. I imagine it's much faster than whatever you guys are using and it would enable your employees to do things the rest of us can do in 5 seconds!

Thank you for your time.

Stuart Wollensky
8th Grade Science Teacher, Patriot