They say that a liberal is a conservative who has been to jail. Today I can report that a conservative is a liberal forced to go to the U.S. Post Office.
Drove over to the Post Office at Fort and Eighth Street to change my address today. This office, on the outskirts of Downtown Detroit, is otherwise known as Detroit’s “main” Post Office.
I’d been putting it off for weeks. My work day starts before the Post Office opens and ends after it closes, so it’s not really convenient getting out there. Saturdays are usually too lazy for such an excursion and too relaxed for the frustration. Besides, the people who need to reach me know how.
Doing it on Monday, though, sounded just about right.
Park at meter no. 1, along Eighth Street, and put in a Quarter. But the “expired” tag still flashed on the other side. Knowing that you can’t win fights with City Hall, even here, I thought it better to move than try making my case to parking patrol.
Same deal at meter no. 2. And same result. Moved down to meter no. 3, only to come up empty once again.
Three Quarters spent, no parking paid for, and the risk of a ticket hanging over my head, I say forget it and head inside. I am pleased to see that I’m one of the only people who has planned a lunchtime Post Office run.
Before taking my place in line, I go look for a Change-of-Address form. Don’t find any.
At the front of the line now, called up to a counter space, I ask the woman working if maybe she has a COA form. Of course not. Does the woman next to her? The two women next to them? The woman who appears to be a manager, because everyone’s looking to her for guidance? No.
“This is a Post Office?” I asked, hoping that hearing the words printed on their uniforms would jar someone to action. It did not.
Instead what I heard was “well you could change your address online” and “you could try another Post Office,” both suggestions delivered in the tone of one of those Detroiters who actually believes there’s a suburban and out-state plot afoot to “steal” “jewels” like Belle Isle and Cobo Hall.
This isn’t how people in customer service jobs speak when their positions are kept, improved or eliminated based on performance. This is the malaise that comes with knowing that another one of Uncle Sam’s paychecks is coming in 2 weeks — whether the several-thousand square foot Post Office manages to find a single Change-of-Address form in that time or not. Or until Uncle Sam wisely decides that the postal service can survive on 3 shiftless customer service professionals per store, rather than 5.
It was a Post Office, alright. A Post Office in Detroit. And from the defunct parking meters to the quality of service to the inability to serve a basic duty of the office — What will they run out of next? stamps? — it was a true Detroit experience.
Your tax dollars, sleeping on the job.
And the worst part is, I still need to change my address.