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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Disgruntled Postal Customer

I simply don't understand where the disgruntled postal worker stereotype/joke comes from. After my recent experiences with the USPS, I really think it ought to be the disgruntled workees that should be running around with an AK, threatening to shoot the mail carriers. It seems that my area of Ithaca is home to a particularly zealous form of postal employee. Several months ago (sometime around last summer), electroman and I started to notice that we weren't receiving the usual bills being delivered to our home. We thought nothing of it -- we pay the vast majority of our bills online or over the phone. Still, it was on our list of follow-up activities when a kind woman from Time Warner Cable called us to ask us whether we had moved from our apartment. Puzzled, we answered "no", at which point she told us that she had been receiving our bills returned to the main Time Warner office -- the post office seemed to have been thinking that electroman and I had abandoned our homes and moved on without a change of address being filed. Just to be clear, we hadn't moved. We weren't checking our mail extremely regularly, but certainly every few days. I called the main post office and discovered that our mailman had noticed a pile-up of our mail and had deemed us 'abandoners'. He had started collecting our mail at the main office, and then started returning them since we hadn't called asking about where our mail had gone, within a 10 day grace period. Unfortunately, they never thought it prudent to actually leave a note informing us of their actions -- so exactly how're we supposed to call them and tell the USPS that we're still in our apartment within 10 days if we don't know about the mail we're not receiving? I was particularly angry because this actually caused a serious issue with my visa. I had set up a one year visa for myself following graduation so I could find a job. The paperwork was done and the visa had to be sent to me by mail. But, because of this, the visa was returned to U.S. Immigration who, of course, didn't bother to keep it. By the time I tracked down what had happened, my visa had been destroyed and I now had roughly two months to find a job before I was booted out of the country. Yes people, from a year to two months because of an overzealous postal worker. No biggie though. At the time, I put things straight, found a job, and everything was settled. Or so we thought... Electroman and I returned from DC last night to find a message on our phone from the same wonderful Time Warner Cable woman, who remembered us from a year ago. She said she was receiving returned bills again. Frustrated, I called the national headquarters this time, and was put through some more run around, all to find out that it was the exact same problem of a mail carrier taking things way too seriously. To put it into perspective, I received my Texas A&M application in the mail this past Monday. Or four days ago. And since that point, we've had our mail carrier decide we were again 'abandoners' and started returning all our mail. Again, there's supposed to be a five day grace period for one of us to pick up our mail from our mailbox, and then another 10 day grace period to call the headquarters and pick up our mail from the main office downtown. And the frustrating thing, above all, was the route manager's attitude when I called to complain. The national USPS headquarters guy was really nice (although a little taken aback when I accidentally said 'UPS' instead of 'USPS'... gotta wonder if that happens all the time and it really pisses the USPS people off?). The route manager was irritable and snippy, acting as if I couldn't possibly have a real reason to be complaining. It was only after I got short with him, and he actually bothered to look into my situation that he realized that his mail carrier was fucking up, not us. God, it makes me wish we had some kind of alternative. The more I deal with certain federal employees, the more it makes me wonder if they all have their heads firmly planted into their asses during training.

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