Jun 27, 2010

Teller No, Teller yes


this originally appeared on nycmomsblog on December 11, 2008

This time of year is tricky, what with all the online shopping and packages that can never be received during regular daytime hours. I'm always either playing 'tag you're it' with the UPS and FedEx guys--scrawling notes on the backs of their slips with sharpie and rigging them to the door so they won't blow away but will be noticed by them on their return, or playing hide and seek with these same clever deliverymen who will sometimes take pity on me and find crafty places to hide my packages. Of course it always takes me awhile to think to read their handwriting, usually I just assume I've missed the package yet again. One guy leaves my boxes down in the stairwell (a dramatic word for the two steps down) of the garden apartment. Another guy sneaks the package between my garbage can and our neighbor's stoop, which makes me nervous because that's where we put recycling, sometimes, when our inside area overflows. Of course they only do this sometimes, and most of the time I just have to hope the planets line up and someone will be here to receive.

But the worst thing is to come home and find the vomit colored beige-pink slip from the post office several blocks away. Did they pick that gross color on purpose? How much different would it be if the slip was a pretty green, or a mango-yellow?

Of course once I read the fine print and realized that it wasn't just a plea to come try to find the package at the post office but rather, an invitation to a dialogue about how I might want them to attempt to redeliver it, even those ugly slips didn't seem so bad. I'd simply sign the back, stick it back on the door (again with clever rigging since it has no stickiness on it), and wait for the Post Office guy to bring it 'round again.

This morning however I got an email from Amazon stating that my post office had attempted delivery of my package (full of 'word combination locks' for my children--one of whom is anticipating a locker in middle school next fall, and the other of whom has taken up ice skating and so will need to become familiarized with the lockers at Wolman Rink, and the third of whom will need one just because the others have them) but that no one had been here to receive it (duh), and that it would be waiting for me at the post office.

This was confusing to me because I didn't expect the package for another few days, and because I never received the little slip notification from the post office.

After I dropped the kids off at school this morning I did a few errands and then attempted to return home only to find that my entire street was being blocked off for tree pruning. So when I set out to find a parking spot on another block my mind was doing its usual calculations about how I could maximize this unexpected extra mileage. I remembered the package at the post office.

I drove over and parked nearby and braced myself for what would no doubt be a really long and angry line. At one point my post office was rated 'worst in the city' and I heard a rumor that it was rated 'worst in the country,' but I never found evidence that that study had been done. There's no organization whatsoever, and long lines are often compounded by the fact that people who've gone to fetch something (like an ID) tend to be allowed to barge back into the building and go straight to the next available window ahead of the people in line. Sometimes the package slips are handled at the regular windows, and at other times, just as I'm about to get my very own teller, some new 'packages only' window will open up and I'll find myself forking over my slip along with about seventeen other slips and then they just come out in whichever order the grumpy teller deems fit.

When I got there there was no one in line. Hallelujah. I had no slip but I did have ID so I figured there'd be no problem. The woman however, wasn't interested in taking me at my word that I'd gotten an email from Amazon, even though I knew that the combination of a package with my name and address and my ID with matching information should have sufficed.

"We have a new system, since four weeks ago." She explained. Great. I needed the tracking order. A 'fine' escaped my clenched jaw and I turned to leave, visualizing the next hour or so, of looking for a parking spot, printing out my Amazon email, returning to find that dreaded long line, etc. All of this was feeling extra emotional to me since we only found out (yesterday!) that my four year old won't have school tomorrow, so my second day 'off' of the week wasn't going to resemble a day off at all (so much for slipping into a movie theater for a half price matinee while the kids were at school).

As I approached the door I found myself wishing there was some way to get that tracking number without going home and just as I was inventing a little handheld device that could access the internet it dawned on me...I already had one of those! I've had this Samsung Blackjack II now for about a month and despite the fact that it's been fun to check email on the fly (and depressing to realize that I don't get that many interesting emails), my main issue with it has been that I don't get reception in building where I teach three days a week--seems at&t doesn't work, t-mobile works fine, and Verizon works in all areas, even the basement and the elevator. So I've owned this little at&t device but because of the at&t poor-reception complication it hasn't felt like a life-saver yet.

Until today.

I whipped it out, and within minutes I'd called up the Amazon email, followed links to the tracking page, and was writing the tracking order down on paper for the teller, who seemed a lot friendlier this time around.

She was able to locate the package (eventually) and even called me 'sweetheart' as I left. There were tears in my eyes as I left, but not the same kind that I'd fought back moments earlier when I'd turned away in defeat, cursing the inhumanity--distraught at the fact that I could prove who I was and where I lived but that that wouldn't hold a drop of water in the face of their new and impersonal 'numbers only' system.

So an enormous personal victory today at the post office. Hard to believe I'd ever write that sentence. Anyone who lives in this part of Brooklyn would understand.

2 comments:

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dutchsneaker said...

This is truly amazing. I've never gotten anywhere with anyone in that post office, and have found that even having the slip is no guarantee that you'll come away with the package! Kudos.