Monday, March 31, 2008

Do Unto Others

So ~ Today I spent 25 minutes in the post office -- more like wasted 25 minutes in the post office... 25 minutes I'll never get back.

I have a few observations... I don't remember when I noticed it, but quite awhile ago I noticed that the post office doesn't use the number tracking thing anymore. A notice that was posted at the post office I was at today stated that they'd stop doing the 'take a number' system mostly due to customer feedback. That the take-a-number system wasted time, and made customers feel like they were 'just a number' rather than receiving the care and courtesy they feel they deserved.

The post office, being known for its counter help speed and efficiency, decided that they would listen to the customer and take away the number system.

There was also a notice/sign at an un-manned window that this window was for disabled customers. And in the same notice about the take-a-number system being done away with was something about how fairly and timely disabled customers would be handled without them having a number. To be honest, this notice was a full length, 12-point type and had like, 6 long paragraphs. And, while I knew I had time to read the entire lengthy explanation on why and how they took away the take-a-number system (for there were only 6 people in front of me in line, and one of the people whose turn had just come up had a box lid full of very full large manila envelopes that all needed to be weighed etc....), to be honest, I don't remember everything about the disabled information because [1] it didn't really apply to me today and [2] I was greatly annoyed that the take-a-number system had been taken away.


Well -- the take-a-number system allowed me to not have to wait in line. I could find a wall to lean against, or take an open spot on a bench when someone else's number came up and the seat was vacated... or I could stand somewhere and fill out a form at table... or make a phone call in the privacy of a corner of the room and just keep my eye on the number display.

Now I have to stay in a queue -- stand in line and keep my place in line. There's nothing to lean on, nothing to do, nothing do see but the person in front of me, who isn't friendly.


The other thing I noticed that annoyed me even more is that after 10 minutes of me standing there waiting, and the line not having moved once... a gentleman came in and he was holding what looked like a disabled parking tag thing-a-ma-jig. He walked past the now even longer line that was forming behind me, and meandered over to where a bench was -- that was kinda close to the disabled window where no one was working.

Now, I know he came in after I did, but I have no idea where his "place" in line would have been had he been able to stand in the silly line like the rest of us... but I, being the cynic that I am when it comes to how the majority of our society treats the older generation, I figured the person who was in front of him would not say anything to anyone who came in and stood in line behind that person like, " Just so you know, that elderly gentleman seated over there came in just after me, but isn't able to stand in line, so I'll be sure and tell the post office employee that he'll be next after me."

Just don't see it happening... and maybe it would be because that person would have his or her nose in a book and would not have even seen this gentleman come in. The take-a-number system eliminates this awkward situation altogether.

I know the postal employees are busy taking care of each and every customer in an individual and customer service oriented manner (as stated on the notice of why they got rid of the take-a-number system in the first place), so they're not going to see when a disabled person sits down to patiently wait his turn.

I was there to pick up a certified letter that was addressed to one of the TGC Board members.

Fortuitously, there was a postal employee who was just helping those of us who were 'just picking up.' The gentleman who went forward to pick things up before me mentioned to her that another disabled customer; who had slowly made her way across the room (because naturally the window for the disabled is across the entire room from the door where you come in) with a cane in one hand and an armful of things to mail in the other -- had gone to the disabled window, saw there was no one there, asked the postal employee who was helping someone else if anyone was working at the disabled window and after she got his attention, he just said no; so she walked all the way out of the room and I couldn't see if she got in line or if she left.

The woman doing the pick ups asked the same postal employee if anyone was working the disabled window and he didn't really answer or respond -- if anything I guess he said no.

The elderly gentleman with the disabled tag was sitting on the bench, which, to be fair, was near the disabled window. And here is what made me actually write this today... on the bench with him was a woman with a baby in a carrier, which she had on her lap, and a 3 or 4 year old little boy, who was sitting on the bench beside her.

In days of old, the mother would have told her child to stand up, and would have said to the older lady, 'ma'am, there is room here on the bench if you'd like to wait until someone can help you.' But this young woman and child didn't bat an eye. The little boy seemed calm, and probably would have been absolutely fine with giving up his seat. It wasn't in a crowd of people, it was set away from the line. Really, in my mind, no reason for him not to give up his seat for someone older and in bad health.

All the other stuff just annoys me, but that lack of awareness, manners, consideration, whatever it is called -- it just really chapped my hide.

When I got up to the window I mentioned to the woman that the gentleman sitting on the bench had been waiting awhile as well. To be honest, I'm not sure if I would have said anything had the man in front of me not mentioned it first. And I don't always do the right thing... but I do make an attempt.

The point? We're all going to be old one day. We all, at one point or another, will rely on the kindness of strangers, and I firmly believe that what goes around comes around and you get what you give.

When in traffic let a few more people in front of you. It's just good karma and the right thing to do. Are we really in that much of a hurry? Is it really that important that you can't wait another 3 minutes for a signal change? Sometimes it is... but for me at least, most days it isn't. And if I had a life that most days it WAS that important, I'd hate my life and I'd change it.

And at the end of all this, she wouldn't give me the certified letter because it wasn't addressed to me. Which, I'm actually thankful for -- glad to know the post office cares about who is picking up mail and checking ID.

And I'm really not knocking the post office -- I like and respect what they do very much. My postal carrier at work is great, and the one at home is wonderful too. I know when I go to the post office that I'm going to be there awhile, and I'm okay with that.

I'm knocking a generation that isn't raising young people with manners or respect for the older generation. I'm knocking lack of awareness. I'm knocking how unkind it is out there in the world.


Vonnie said...

Good post - speaking as one who is getting older.

Ann(ie) said...

BEAUTIFULLY said my friend!