Friday, September 24, 2004

Going postal

As I mentioned before, there was a time when I worked for the U.S.P.S. This post office was located on an army base in Europe. Besides civilians, military personnel also worked there, which made it all the more fun when something had to get done.
If you never worked in a military environment, you may not realize that the average GI wants nothing more in his day than to do as little as possible. I'm not saying our service men and women do not do a good job defending us, what I'm saying is they want to get away from the day to day crap that has to be used a filler while they are waiting to go do their actual MOS.
While I worked there, I was able to truly appreciate how many ways there are to waste a human beings time. I witnessed one gung ho lietenant assigning mailbox cleaning duties. These were the mailboxes we used to sort mail, the public never touched them. They had to be washed out and made sparkling so that we might dirty them again when the evenings mail came.
I had the luck of being in charge of claims. First, let me explain to you how mail is shipped. You bring your package to the counter and have the postal person stamp it "fragile", with the assurance that it will be treated with care. You might even see it being placed gently in a large bin. What you don't see is the 70lb box that is set on top of it before it is rolled into the back. Let's say it survives that. It gets tossed into a nylon bag along with any other box that is going to that zip code zone. It doesn't matter if it is heavy or light. If it fits in the bag, it's going. That bag is tied up tight and then loaded on to a cart with other bags just like it. Now, it is an overseas PO like the one I worked at, the soldiers load an 18 wheeler with these bags. Think for a moment, what is the quickest way to get those bags in the truck? You guessed it, throwing! We used to have contests to see who could throw it the furthest.
It then gets driven to the airport, where it is off loaded onto large open carts that will be dragged to the airplane. Now, as a person loads the cart, all he is thinking of is how fast can I get this thing loaded so I can get back and go home. These carts often resemble a Jenga tower after 10 rounds. You tell me if you think it makes it to the airplane without falling off.
As the claims person (and one who does all the other stuff as well), I have to explain to GI Smith exactly why that priceless figurine that Aunt Susie sent didn't make it in one piece. I'm the one who had to listen to them rant and rave. Of course, Aunt Susie just wrapped her porcelain unicorn in newspaper with a brown paper overlay, so it doesn't make it safely. That little "fragile" stamp is not a stamp of invicibility.
We had a room dedicated to all the broken merchandise that had outstanding claims on them(claims never took less than 6 months to be completed), from computer monitors to car flywheels. I used to send out notice after notice to people who filed claims, trying to find out if they got their money. They didn't realize that I had to keep every broken piece of crap that came through my doors until I was notified that claim had been paid. What? You ask, "Didn't the USPS notify you?" Now why would it do that? It might save me 5 hours a week doing paperwork follow-up if it did that. How else can it warrant that stamp increase if it can't prove that all this work is being done?
Many a day I was glad that all the weapons were locked up in a seperate building.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

My karma is fine, how's yours?

Having just gotten back from someone hitting my car and then driving off,
I'm a bit ticked today. The @#%*@ a-hole rear-ended me as I was driving, signaled that she was pulling over, then sped off once I had pulled over.
The pathetic thing is, I had already decided that I would be nice and tell her not to worry about the damage (there is already some from the last time my care was rear-ended). I realize this individual probably did not have insurance, but she didn't even check to see if I was OK. Where is the common decency of mankind?
Then I go to check on a project I'm working on and I find the new girl trying to take it away from me. She does not even try to hide this fact, just blithely continues prattling on about how she can't wait to start working on it. I was polite and did not tell her to @#%* off.
So it makes me wonder, what I do to deserve this? I gave blood yesterday, I would think that counts as a positive addition to my karma. I guess we all have to have those days where we feel like the world is out to get us.
I think I'll just curl up on my couch, put a heating pad on my back, and hide until tomorrow comes.

Friday, September 10, 2004

What I want to be when I grow up

After looking through some boxes from my recent move, some of which have gone through 6 moves without being unpacked, I came across a third grade "yearbook".
Two things struck me about it:
1. How in the world has it survived literally crisscrossing the world without any damage?
2. How many people actually grow up to be what they to be?

You see, there was a list of students and their future occupation choices. Mine was to grow-up to be a veternarian in New York. Well, at least I lived in NY for awhile, thereby half reaching that goal.

Honestly, my dream job, as it has been since the 4th grade, is archaeology. Unfortunately, I can't find someone willing to pay me to do this. In fact, there was a time where I worked without pay in the hopes that funding would come through. It didn't and I was moving to Italy, so it was a good time for a career change anyway.

That career change was to the USPS, and not one I would recommend to anyone. I truly understand the phrase "going postal" and many days was on the verge of doing so myself.
More later on this.