Monday, December 21, 2009

The Boss Versus the Post Office: The Boss 1, the Post Office 0

That’s the score of the latest battle between my wife and the US Postal Service, although to be fair, the contest was really between the Boss and our Garmin. Last year my parents gave us a Garmin for Christmas. This very generous gift has been put to great use by our family. You can find anything that you need while traveling if you punch a few buttons on the Garmin. Need an urgent care center in northern Illinois on a Sunday morning because your daughter has a UTI? Consult the Garmin. Looking for a gas station that has a Vend-O-Bait machine near the Mississippi river? Ask the Garmin. Got a hankerin’ for pork rinds while driving through Missouri? Ask the Garmin. The only thing that you cannot find using a Garmin is a working post office in Des Moines, Iowa.

The wife had a simple need. She had three packages that she needed to mail last Thursday. We left Apathy before our post office opened, so we decided to stop along the way and mail them from a post office on our drive to Chicago. I was concerned that if we stopped in a small town in northern Missouri or southern Iowa there would be a delay in delivery because the parcels would have to be trucked to a big city. Let’s stop in Des Moines, I told her. We consulted the Garmin.

There are a lot of post offices in the memory banks of our Garmin, and that little machine gave us the directions to a post office near the Des Moines airport. We followed those directions faithfully and ended up on a residential street in the middle of West Des Moines without a post office in sight. That was odd, but not entirely surprising. Maps change. Locations change. A short drive away I noticed a Hy-Vee grocery store with a post office sign over the front door. “Let’s stop there!” I suggested. The Boss agreed, and I sat in the van while she ran inside with the packages. Fifteen minutes later she returned to the van with the same three packages.

“What happened?” I asked, as she sat down with an audible sigh of disgust.

“I was good,” she told me. “I really was. I didn’t say anything while the only employee of the store who knew how to handle mail spent ten minutes trying to load a new roll of tape in the printer.”

After waiting for ten minutes, the Boss attempted to ask where she could find another post office, but the clerk interrupted her to exclaim, “It’s not my fault! The printer will not accept the roll of paper blah blah blah (insert your favorite excuse for incompetence here).” When the clerk stopped yammering the Boss completed her question, and the clerk gave her directions to another postal facility. The Boss programmed that information into the Garmin, and with the female voice of that unit giving me directions and the Boss overriding them with directions of her own, I eventually made our way to a building that looked like a postal facility but was no longer a postal facility as the post office had evidently sold it to the Survivors of Legionnaire’s Disease Local 316.

Undaunted, we travelled to the next postal facility on the Garmin’s screen, a small office near downtown Des Moines accessible from only one street because all the others were blocked due to construction. We were thrilled to locate an open post office since the scheduled five minute detour to mail a couple of packages had stretched into nearly forty five minutes. The Boss walked inside the building to mail her parcels only to find a sign that informed her that this facility was for postal workers only and offered no postal services to the general public. It was at that point that the Boss slammed her packages on a counter and screamed.

“What does a person have to do to mail a few packages in this town?!” she exclaimed.

A startled mail handler explained that this was a building that served as a sorting facility for mail handlers, but that the Boss could mail packages from any Hy-Vee grocery store.

“Oh, let me tell you about Hy-Vee grocery stores!” she snorted, and launched into an explanation of the competency-challenged Hy-Vee employee and our success at locating non-existent post offices.

The rather startled postal worker, looking for a quick escape from the maniacal, freckle-faced red-head in a Green Bay Packers t-shirt, provided her with accurate directions to the main post office building in Des Moines. Once again, I listened to two ladies giving directions as we drove there.  When I dropped off the Boss at the front door, she “suggested” that I drive to the corner Burger King and buy us something for lunch. I looked up at the sign a block down, nodded my absolute compliance with her suggestion, and drove off. Of course, it was closed. There was a “For Sale” sign on the front door.

By this time the kids needed to stretch their legs and find a rest room. I drove back to the post office. It was an enormous two story building. There was plenty of room inside for the children to run, but after exploring the hallways I discovered that there were no public facilities. The only access to the second floor of that building, where I was certain there was a bathroom since postal workers are human (contrary to popular belief) and do have to pee, was an elevator. It was out of order.

The packages got mailed. The heaviest of the three, which the Boss sent parcel post, arrived in Florida two days later, thanks to a postal worker who did not remove the “priority” sticker he had placed on the box after the Boss changed her mind and downgraded service. That was the only silver lining to the afternoon.

An hour after our five minute stop in Des Moines began, we resumed our trip to Chicago.

That was day one.


CrossView said...

That's just odd. And I've never seen a facility that is a post office - but isn't.

So did everyone actually and finally get to a bathroom? Oh! And did everyone get fed?

Oklahoma Granny said...

I feel your wife's pain. The Post Office and I have had an ongoing feud going since 1974 or 1975. I must have offended someone because I have more stories than I can count about the mail service. I have to admit though that since we moved to the country last year our very small post office (340 po boxes total and not all of them have an occupant) has given us wonderful service. Maybe the memo about the feud never reached them. Anyway, I'm so glad the packages finally made it onto the truck and I hope everyone got something to eat and was able to find some facilities. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Kellie said...

Wow! Big D would have had a coronary after about 15 minutes of that. He has the patience of a saint until we travel.

Kathleen said...

Note to self: Don't ever move to Des Moines, IA. Or anywhere in IA for that matter. And note to any IA USPS (or any USPS for that matter): Don't mess with the Boss!!

Michelle said...

Now, my hubby's from a small town in IA. I crack up because they don't deliver the mail if you live in town, you have to come and pick yours up. Of course, you get better customer service and all the lastest gossip so that's wonderful!
Sorry about the feud with the post office. I feel her pain. I was often almost in tears when we lived in Japan trying to get our mail-combine the post office with military personnel and that just equals stupid!