We’re not in Kansas anymore…can I just get a P.O. Box?

January 28, 2008

Being that I was actually born in Kansas, this does ring true for me, although, I spent time in Arkansas, Texas and Tennessee before landing in the Big Apple.  But I am, indeed, no longer in Kansas – heck, I sometimes wonder if I’m in the United States at all!

I live in an area of Manhattan known as Inwood.  Other terms of endearment include The Singer’s Ghetto (it’s the “cheapest” part of Manhattan so all the singers live up here) and Little DR (Little Dominican Republic – there is a large number of Dominicans living in this area of Manhattan).  I affectionately refer to it as the developing world of New York City. Let me share an anecdote to illustrate my point.

I am subletting a nice little (400 square feet) studio apartment on a quiet street that backs up to Inwood Hill Park, a gorgeous, huge park with tons of trails. I really love it, though I am paying in rent what most of the US would pay for a mortgage on a 1600 square foot home with a yard, garage and driveway (I truly miss those things).   My landlord requested that I get a P.O. box from the local post office as he and his wife still use the mailbox associated with my apartment (oh, the joys of subletting).  So at the end of November, I mosied on down to the post office to get my P.O. box.  The post office looked like it had not been touched by new paint, tile or a mop for that matter since 1920. It kinda stank, too.  After looking around for a moment to figure out where to get my P.O. box, I spot the appointed window. There was already a man waiting to speak to the woman behind the window.  As I was patiently waiting in line, I realized that the woman “working” behind the window was actually just listening to music to her headphones and singing.  I asked the man in front of me if she was helping him, and in very broken English, he said, “She say she not ready now.” I tweaked my head, and looked at the woman. Yeah, she wasn’t ready, because she was too busy having a party in her head.  But what amazed me even more, is that this man was willing to stand there and wait until she was ready! What New Yorker, heck, what American, would put up with that!  So I waited a few minutes and then went around the man to the window.  The woman would not acknowledge that I was there. Like a typical American, I was on a schedule, so I left.

A week or so later, I went by again.  This time, no one was at the window, and the line for the other windows was extremely long, so I left again.

I decided to make another effort when I returned after Christmas.  This time, I went in and the woman was actually working! I knew the gods were shining upon me.  I went right up to the window and requested a box.  She gave me an application. I guess the US postal service wants to make sure I’m not a terrorist, so I dutifully filled it out and handed it back. She said someone would call me to tell me when I could get the keys.  Feeling victorious, I left.

Alas, the feeling of victory would not be long felt.  A week went by without a call. Another few days went by. No call. 10 days after filling out the application, I decided to venture back to the post office to figure out what was going on.  After waiting in line at the appointed window, my request for the P.O. box was answered with, “Our system is down.”  I looked at the woman and I said, “How long has it been down?” “About a month” Indignant, and mouth agape, I said, “How is someone supposed to get mail when your system is down!” “I dunno” “Well, when will it be fixed?” “I dunno”.  Obviously, I was getting no where fast.  I definitely was NOT in Kansas anymore.  What part of the United States operates this way?! One would certainly not expect things to run so terribly in New York City…the city of advancement and technology.

Absolutely at my wits end, I called the USPS phone number, was connected to a person and I filed a complaint.  Lo and behold, the next morning at 9am, I received a phone call from the post office saying that the system had been fixed and that I could come get my P.O. box!  Oh, the happiness I felt. Single-handedly, I managed to bring the post office to its knees and make them fix their system! (evil laugh)

So, off I went with a bounce in my step, happy to know that I would be able to get my P.O. box.  But before you get excited with me, the story is not over. I arrive to get my box. They have lost my application. I am going to have to fill out another one and wait. I must confess, I lost it.  I was not rude or mean, but everyone in that post office heard me share the piece of my mind that had had it with this whole system.  The head of the post office replied, “Oh, well…just fill out the application and we’ll give you your keys.” I replied with a curt “Thank you.” And finally left with my keys.

During the 25 minutes it took to get my keys, a line of about 12 people had formed behind me, because, you see, the lady who actually gave me my application the first time I walked in to the post office, was not the one to actually give me my keys.  I had to talk to someone at another window (apparently, all she’s allowed to do is hand out applications and party with her headphones).  And while at my window, everyone else working a window went on break, leaving the rest of the poor people in line seething and cursing me under their breath for being the one to hold up the line.  But, they waited. I would imagine that some of those folks are still there waiting – and they will wait, because, this isn’t Kansas, and apparently they have all the time in the world.

But, in the meantime, I conquered the post office and got my P.O. box! (super hero music)


3 Responses to “We’re not in Kansas anymore…can I just get a P.O. Box?”

  1. orrloff Says:

    THAT post office is the worst! I rue the day that I get a slip asking me to come pick up an item they could not fit in my teeny tiny mailbox. Kudos for getting ANYTHING done there!

  2. omg you are so patient. can you believe that you were probably the first person to actually call USPS and file a complaint?! maybe you should give all those P.O. workers a copy of QBQ!

  3. Smitty Says:

    Wow I’m pissed just reading your story. I know everyone talks a big game, but there’s NO WAY I would have let that little trick listen to Mariah Carey on her CD player while I needed help.

    I know you’re mad you’re 38 and work at the Post Office window but get to work fool!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s