Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Dark of Night Shall Make This Line Shorter


Along with countless other television viewers during the 90’s, I enjoyed watching the classic sitcom Seinfeld. One of my favorite characters on the show was Newman, the ever slothful, ne’er-do-well postal worker.

As much as I would like to believe that this character was nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek caricature based on exaggerated stereotypes, my experience with the postal service makes such a leap of faith somewhat difficult.

I drove over to the local post office early this morning to place a couple of letters in the mail. I was hoping that this time, there would not be the usual long line of people waiting for service. Unfortunately, those hopes were not to be realized.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, ‘art does in fact imitate life‘; at least when it comes to purchasing stamps.

I’ve been to the post office early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and everything in between; but long lines of customers waiting to be served at my local USPS office is apparently just a matter of course.

I’ve spent most of my working life managing processes in order to improve their efficiency while ensuring a high level of customer service for our clients. There’s an old saying which goes, “Old habits die hard“. This explains why, once again this morning, I found myself figuratively scratching my head.

From my position as the 15th or 16th person in line, I had plenty of time to wonder why only two of the four customer service positions were staffed.

If this had been a unique occurrence, I would have been more than willing to overlook it. But the fact is that in all the years that I’ve been using this post office, I’ve never seen more than two postal clerks working at a time. Two of the available four service positions are routinely closed, yet there’s always a queue of frustrated customers slowly winding their way through the office.

It may have been my overactive imagination, but it seemed to me that several of those who were in line with me this morning, through their gritted teeth, could be heard muttering, “Newman!

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3 thoughts on “Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Dark of Night Shall Make This Line Shorter

  1. After waiting for about 20 minutes the other day, I mailed a book via ‘media mail’ and the clerk berated me for not using first class because the postal service is having financial difficulty. No further comment required. You can’t make this stuff up.

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