Support Your Local Post Office: Defeat by Proper Procedural Protocol

Filed in Politics by on August 29, 2009 0 Comments

For too long I have let stand, unchallenged and universally accepted, the fallacy that the post office is a miserable, cheerless place where souls are crushed beneath so many tons of bureaucratic largesse and packing supplies. Today, I have decided that I must tell the world of this misconception, and in my noble role of informant I will set right one of the most unjust prejudices to afflict any overlooked, underappreciated group of people. It is a true act of selfless beneficence, one that is in no way influenced by a day wasted at the hands of a different government agency, an inefficient, malicious monster bent on driving people insane with its most fearsome weapon, the dreaded “Check here if…” prompt.

As of Thursday morning, my new apartment was fully unpacked, settled and styled, though the small matter of updating my address at the post office had yet to be taken care of. One quick jaunt down Harvard Ave. to my local branch and a friendly “Change of address form, please,” later and I was ready to go.

The form was brief, simple, and, using only the chained pen across from the main window, I was able to complete the form in no time. There wasn’t even a line inside the office, just me and one woman with a lone package to mail. The staff was friendly and attentive, wasting no time in plucking the single form from a handily placed rack and presenting it to me, then waiting eagerly to receive it as soon as I finished.USPS mailbox in Boston

As I left, a woman behind the counter even said “thank you.”

This courtesy from such a misunderstood group of public employees was greatly appreciated—again, not just because the entire morning before my trip to the post office, the Registry of Motor Vehicles had sent me scurrying back and forth across the city in search of appropriate documentation confirming that I, a non-threatening twenty-something, really lived in Massachusetts and was not trying to defraud the government of a fake ID either for the thrill of driving illegally or as part of an elaborate hoax to ensure I could buy my own booze.

While I appreciate their thoroughness, I do not appreciate being treated like a criminal, a brain damaged one at that, who spends the nicest day of the summer waiting for two hours in line just to see if he can dupe a low level government official whose mind, I apparently hoped in this fantastical scheme of theirs, was so liquefied by tedious protocol and the incessant chatter of over-anxious sixteen year-olds that she would just sign off on my request and give me a new license, no questions asked.

Unfortunately, I did not have the required proof of residency on my first visit of the day. So, after rushing home by bike to obtain a copy of my old lease—a lease that terminates at the end of the month—I returned to the RMV, triumphantly wagging this acceptable form of proof as per proper procedural protocol, stepped to the head of the line, and presented it to another official.

After scanning the lease, the official informed me that she could not process the paperwork because the lease I had given her, the old lease, lists my old address, whereas I indicated on form 114a3(b) that I would need the new license mailed to my new address. Conflicting information ground the rusted gears of data entry to a halt and I was, once again, rejected by the RMV. I was, however, told that since the address on my new lease matched the address on form 114a3(b) it would be valid proof of residency.

Yet what my decidedly and, I could only assume, intentionally indifferent attendant neglected to tell me was that the new lease would only be valid next week, when the term (September-August) begins. Too late. I had already pedaled madly into the city for a copy of my new lease, then back to Watertown, this time assured that I would get the new license I required.

But again, failure, epic failure at the hands of the RMV. Shocked into a state of paralysis by the disparity in addresses listed on the two leases, both old and new, both proving, when combined, that I have lived and will continue to live in Massachusetts, the RMV attendant shrugged her shoulders and sent me away.

So support your local post office branch. There will be lines at times, but don’t forget, they are also chronically understaffed and underfunded, operating on a shoestring budget funded primarily by stamps. Cut them some slack; they really do want to help as best they can, and to do so with enough common courtesy to say genuinely, “have a nice day.”

Photo credit: zappowbang

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