This morning I had to spend some time at the local post office – someone sent me a registered mail with return receipt that I have missed, so I just had to go. Every time I go to a post office – whether small and local or large and central – it always feels a bit like time travel. A travel to the past, of course.
First thing that came to my mind when I have entered the premises (I never visited this location even though I lived in that zip code for a year) why does the post office needs five windows, when only one clerk is on duty? There must be some serious flaw in design or management, since it takes about 20 minutes (or more) to get from the start of the line to that clerk’s window. Obviously, since the clerk has got almost 15 years before retirement, she’s not in the hurry. However, most of the people who (im)patiently wait in line – are, their time costs money – just like mine. With proliferation of electronic means of communications I can see more and more sense in avoiding post office like a plague. After all, my time is better spent elsewhere.
Second thing is that about 80% of people who wait patiently are older generation, well over 60 years old. The younger the person, the less patient he or she gets. I often found myself to be the youngest person for the whole time I was in the post office.
Next – even thought the cost of postal mailing is usually noticeably less then FedEx, UPS or DHL, people still prefer to use the latter. My guess is that it not only matters how much it costs to get a package from point A to point B, but also – how much effort does it takes. If sending a package costs me just two dollars more but doesn’t include humiliation of 20 minute line in front of 15 empty clerk’s windows – maybe I would agree to pay 2 dollars more.
Last, but not least is the track record. The moniker “United States Lost Office” didn’t come out of nowhere.