Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Going Postal

While waiting in line at the post office yesterday, I had plenty of time to daydream. This is what I imagined:

Training Day for New U.S. Postal Service Counter Clerks:

USPS New Hire Trainer: Welcome, new USPS employees! First of all, I want to tell you two very important things:

1. You were chosen for this job because you are extremely laid-back. You aren’t affected by pressure, deadlines or customer’s needs. In fact, it’s kind of like you’re sleep walking through life. We here at the postal service applaud that.
2. You’re very lucky. Most people who live their lives half-asleep couldn’t get a job at all, much less a really easy one. You are about to start the cushiest job there ever was. Congrats.

Now let’s talk about your duties:

It’s pretty simple. Basically, you’ll stand behind a counter and when customers come in, you’ll help them with their postal needs: buying stamps, sending packages, picking up packages, changing their addresses, etc.

How many customers do you think you’ll help a day?

New Hire #1: 200?

USPS Trainer: Lower.

New Hire #2: 100?

USPS Trainer: Lower.

New Hire #3: 40?

USPS Trainer: Lower.

New Hire #4: 20?

USPS Trainer: I can see you have a lot to learn. You’re all being a little over-ambitious. On a typical day at the post office you’ll probably help 15 customers. Here’s how we do that:

First, you get paid commission on HOW LONG you spend with each customer, not how MANY you see. So, for instance, if someone comes in and all they want to do is buy stamps, you’ll need to show them all of their choices: the fruits, the flags, the hearts…and don’t forget the expensive ones: breast cancer, global warming, Elvis. You might need to go to the back to find all the options. If they say that they want the fruits, you try to sell them the flags. If they say breast cancer, you say Elvis. Then, when they finally decide on one, you VERY SLOWLY (try pretending like you’re in slow-motion on a DVD player) take their money and ring up their order.

A transaction like this could take up to twelve minutes if you’re really good, like me.

New hire #12: But what if there’s a long line of people?

USPS Trainer: Don’t worry about them!

New hire #7: Should we say, “We’ll be with you in a minute?”

USPS Trainer, getting right up in New hire #7’s face and screaming: NO! WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE CUSTOMERS IN LINE! Do not apologize! Do not even act like you notice them!! If you do, you could be fired on the spot!!

Now, as I was saying...the second reason that you will only see 15 customers a day is because you will only stand at your counter for a total of an hour and 20 minutes, max. It’s USPS policy that we only have TWO workers at the counter at one time. If you’re not at the counter, you can simply hang out in the back. Take a nap if you want.

Here’s a fun thing I used to do back when I was a counter clerk: I would come out from the back and head straight to the counter, as if I was going to open up a new window. Then, as soon as I got to the counter, I would stop and then just mess around with some of the boxes. The people in line (as far as I could tell out of the corner of my eye because, of course, I wouldn’t look at them) would get all excited like I was going to help them but I wouldn’t! In fact, sometimes I would even distract one of the other clerks by talking so she would take longer with her customer!! It was awesome.

New hire #9: But what if the line starts to wrap around the room?

USPS Trainer: Then you're doing your job right. I’ve had up to 100 in line on a good day.

And speaking of good days, the best day is when you have a customer who needs to fill out a form.

New hire #8: Why? Wouldn’t you just tell them to step aside and fill it out while you helped another customer?

USPS Trainer: Somebody get this guy out of here. He’s not USPS material.

For the rest of you, here's what you would do: You would have the person fill out the form and/or forms right there at your counter! I once had an old lady take 13 minutes to fill out a form! Those transactions are like a cash cow for a counter clerk!

So how does that all sound? Are you ready to go out there and sell some stamps? Hello? Oh, you’re all sleeping! Now that’s what I like to see. You’re gonna go far in this branch of the government!
End Daydream.


Anonymous said...

Good one, I was just saying the other day that I will get my stamps at the grocery store before going to the post office. I had a cashier that was overly friendly and told Greg that you have to go to this post office and see for yourself.

Anonymous said...

That made me cry I laughed so hard!
Are you sure you were not at the post office by my work? That was a dead on description of how they operate!
Especially the worker who wanders up to the counter, and you think a new line is opening......Really not so much!

Writinggal said...

Sometimes the sneaky worker will even start to put his name plate up there but then it will just say "This window closed."

Also, there was an old lady who was filling out a form a my post office. She looked up after about nin minutes and said, "I feel bad that I'm holding up this long line." The counter clerk said, "Don't worry about it!"

Anonymous said...

That's one of the funniest takes Ive ever read. It's "dead on" as far as my experience goes. This should be required reading for all postal employees. I'm sure that a lot of them would LOL.

The old man at 105 Victoria Way

Chick Lit Cafe said...

Ha ha! This is so true. I think this training also extends to those Barnes & Noble coffee barristas. Have you ever noticed that their lines never move and they're always shorthanded? So annoying!