On Thursday, I got a pink card in my mailbox saying that I would have to come pick up my mail at the post office "after 9am" because of my "broken mailbox."
Strange. My mailbox wasn't broken. I even double-checked the lock to make sure it worked. And Friday and Saturday, I got mail. But the Thursday mail was still at the post office, including an unlimited Transitcheck Metrocard to replace the one I lost last week. So, this morning, I figured I'd try to pick up the mail before I headed to work.
I stand in line for nearly forty minutes with just five other pink-card holders in front of me. When I finally get to the front of the line, where a goofy-looking man with thick glasses called me forward. I hand him the card and my ID. "Hello, I'm picking this up," I tell him.
"Okay........ let's see here........ okay." He looks confused. "Oh........ oh....... now wait a minute here....... wait just a minute."
Okay, I'll wait a minute.
"No........ no........ you can't do this........... this is broken-box mail. Broken-box mail can only be picked up from 11 to 2." He points to a small sign in the window that I had apparently not seen while waiting in line.
I try to reason with him. "I work all day, about 40 minutes away. How am I supposed to pick this up then? Isn't the mail already here?"
"Yes....... but that's the rule. You can't pick it up before 11."
"But it's been here for three days. Why can't you just get it for me now?"
"Because that's the rule. 11 to 2."
Seeing my displeasure with the situation, a female postal worker comes over to the window. "So, you're telling me, my mail is here, but you can't give it to me because the rules say you can't."
"That's the rule," the new postal worker says. "You can come and pick it up after 11."
"But I work during those hours every day." Apparently, postal workers are not aware that many people, like them, also work 9 to 5.
"Our office is open until 7pm tonight."
Problem solved. Why was I not made aware of this? "Can I pick it up then, though?"
"No, you can only pick up broken box mail from 11 to 2," the man repeats, in a zombie-like tone.
"Why is it different from any other mail that requires this card to pick it up?"
"Well, that's just the rules," the female postal worker says. "I can get a postal supervisor for you, but they're just going to tell you the same thing."
I ask her to get a supervisor. The supervisor tells me the same thing. I am dumbfounded.
I still don't have my mail. The US Postal Service is holding it hostage. Its release can only be negotiated by the unemployed, and second and third-shift workers.
I wish my job worked this way:
"I'm sorry, but I can only fulfill requests made by my clients between 8 and 11pm."
"But I don't work then!"
"Sorry, that's the rules."