Lame Adventure 460: Jerk Season

Last week was not one of my better weeks, not to imply that anything monumentally terrible happened, but if a week could be an object, last week would have been a constant pebble in my sneaker. Every subway ride into The Grind, and most rides out, were densely crowded. I had backpacks in my face.

If only I could have wet sneezed on cue.

If only I could heavily sneeze on cue.

An arrogant woman simply sit her name brand hand bag on me.

This bag was so completely on top of me the woman standing at my left and the one sitting at my right were annoyed.

So close I could have bitten into it.

At work, in a moment of sky-high frustration, I asked The Boss, Elspeth:

Me: Where’s The Departmental Knife?

I wanted to slice a pear. She looked befuddled as if I had asked:

Me: Where’s The Departmental Lawnmower?

We have a single communal serrated knife in the entire Design department. It’s about 65-years-old and once belonged to Elspeth’s mother. We’re minimalists when it comes to flatware. I found it sitting on a desk. My palpitations subsided.

Found: one departmental serrated dinner knife.

Found: one departmental serrated dinner knife perfect for slicing pears.

But the most exasperating aspect of last week was that my colleague, Godsend, was completely flattened by the flu. With Godsend missing in action, I had to fill in and run errands that included visiting the Third Circle of Hell, a.k.a. the Canal Street Post Office. This is a dreary, puke pink colored building staffed by some of the most miserable malcontents in New York City.

Puke pink entrance to Third Circle of Hell.

Puke pink entrance to Third Circle of Hell.

Last month, The Boss had us purchase six coils of 34-cent stamps for a postcard mailing. I warned Godsend that these misanthropes might give her a hard time.

What greets you inside the Third Circle of Hell.

Low tech greeting inside the Third Circle of Hell.

Me: They’re so incompetent they might not even know what you’re asking for. Or they might only have three coils and they’ll load you up with 300 more stamps in sheets, or to be asswipes, 600 loose stamps. Prepare for anything. They’re jerks.

Godsend went out, armed with $205 in cash. Twenty minutes later she returned with six coils of 34-cent stamps, one paper dollar in change (as opposed to 55 pennies, seven nickels and a dime) and proclaimed:

Godsend: They were nice!

In the weeks that followed we had to do a massive catalogue mailing. After we sent the catalogues in bulk, we started mailing them piecemeal. In those cases, a member of our accounting staff applied postage from the company meter to the package and Godsend hightailed over to the Canal Street Post Office where she made the drop off and got a tracking number. Every time when she returned she announced:

Godsend: They were nice!

With Godsend out sick, I had to run this errand. That’s when I meet Clerk 03, a sour woman about my own age. I have three pre-posted catalogues. She barks:

Clerk 03: What do you want?

Me: I want to send these packages Priority and I need tracking numbers. They’re all pre-posted.

She looks at the first package, shoves it back at me and sneers:

Clerk 03: You gotta take this back to wherever you came from.

Me: What’s the matter?

Clerk 03: Look at the date. It’s not today. You gotta re-post it with a zero, zero, zero, zero, zero meter strip from where you came from. I can’t help you with that.

The meter strip is indeed dated the day before. I also know that we sent out over 200 of these packages with meter strips dated the day before. They were all accepted without question and apparently whenever Godsend dropped them off, she was always greeted with a big wet kiss. I instinctively hate Clerk 03’s guts, but I know that this petty bureaucrat is setting me up. She is itching for a fight.

Me (calmly): Is it really necessary that I walk all the way back to my office?

Another Clerk interjects:

Another Clerk: You can mail it. Drop it in the box over there. We’ll give you a Priority sticker.

Clerk 03 shoots laser beams out of her eyes at Another Clerk and throws a Priority sticker at me. I hand her my next package. This infuriates her.

Clerk 03: Don’t you get it that I can’t be bothered with that if it’s dated yesterday?

Me: These other two are dated today.

Clerk 03: You better be right about that.

I was, but what if I was mistaken? Was she going to have me taken in the back and executed?  She gave me the tracking numbers I needed without more guff. Before leaving her window, she urged me to take a survey about my visit. It took all of my power of self-control to mute what I was thinking:

Me: I will enthusiastically award your service five middle fingers.

On Friday, spring arrived. Of course, it snowed. Even Mother Nature’s a jerk.

In like a lion.

First night of spring: in like a lion.

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59 responses to “Lame Adventure 460: Jerk Season

  1. The postal clerks here are nice enough. But they move in slow motion. And because we’re not urban enough, offices open and close and seemingly random hours. The one just north of us? Closes at 10:15 or something. For lunch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right about the slow motion pace. I wonder if it is USPS policy, or the person that is slow.

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      • They are ALL slow. Policy…

        Liked by 1 person

        • There’s a government training program for that. Instead of “boot camp” it’s called Sloth Camp. The practice by carrying a single post card through ankle deep molasses. The one who finished last is awarded a supervisor position.

          Liked by 1 person

          • That explains why it took my sister on the West Coast ten days to receive a post card from me recently. I didn’t realize that mail first travels through molasses, but this makes imperfect sense. I only recently discovered that a postcard I sent the Boss that I dropped in the mailbox no more than 50 feet from the entrance to her sanctum sanctorum had to travel through a sorting station in New Jersey before being returned to the Canal Street Post Office for what looked like trampling and being smeared with pizza (or maybe it was blood) before delivery four days later.

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      • I once encountered a clerk in my local post office on the Upper West Side, Ansonia Station, who was courteous, charming and did something very uncharacteristic of postal workers in the Big Apple: she smiled. Please note that I said I encountered her once. Yes, I never saw her again. She didn’t fit the underachieving, hostile, can’t-make-eye-contact mold. I figure that they had to let her go.

        Liked by 3 people

    • What charmed lived they lead in Iowa, Melanie. Maybe this sheds light on why they’re so sour in NYC: these angry beasts need more feedings.

      Like

  2. Ah, LA, jobsworths are scourge, aren’t they? Over here, they’re known as doctor’s receptionists.
    Pleased to see that Spring has arrived with you as well, but sorry to see you still having snow… hopefully that will be cleared soon.
    Hope you have a good week, LA!

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    • I love that expression, Tom: jobsworths! Yes, they are a scourge. You enter feeling okay but you leave re-thinking your life-long commitment to non-violence.

      As for the weather, the snow seems to have stopped and the 3 or 4 inches that fell on Friday have melted. The temperature is still very brisk today, 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1.11111 Celsius; I looked that up), right now. But it wasn’t so long ago that we were in the single digits Fahrenheit so what is that in Celsius, fractions or specks? At least it’s climbing up and not going down!

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  3. That sounds like a frustrating week. Nothing major. But, the little things all add up. I had one day like that last week. The worst part was the inkjet printer died. Now, all it can do is try to print alignment pages endlessly. And, only in color. Black doesn’t work.

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    • I hate it when an appliance dies! Following our water cooler at The Grind buying its rainbow in January, our workhorse printer then checked out. When Godsend got sick last week, I was very worried, but fortunately, she’s still under warranty and has fully recovered.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Just when I thought it was safe to remove my hat…. Winter… Ahhhh I’m kinda getting used to the cold… Makes hat head more fashionable….

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  5. I hope Godsend feels better this week for her sake and yours, V. Our postal clerks are nice here, but I still don’t like waiting in line at the post office. I can’t believe you guys are still getting snow! Also, interesting that gruff lady urged you to take a survey about your experience – I guess they have to do that… I wonder if anyone actually reads them.

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    • Godsend has just about made a complete recovery, Cathy. Thanks for caring! Of course, Fort Collins would have nice postal clerks. You live in the nicest place in the entire country! No way would I waste my precious energy on taking that survey. I doubt anyone ever reads them, but if anyone is seriously interested in how the Canal Street Post Office rates, they should just read what customers have to say in the plethora of single star reviews on Yelp:

      http://www.yelp.com/biz/post-office-new-york

      Liked by 1 person

      • I perused the Yelp reviews, V, just out of curiosity. All I can say is “Wow.” Oh yes, and Godsend must be the original “Postoffice Whisperer.”

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        • Those reviews certainly back up my whining, Cathy. Godsend is truly the asshole whisperer. She’s a great egg who somehow manages to get along with just about everyone. Her ability to be diplomatic with the dregs of the earth blows what’s left of my mind.

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  6. I think Godsend owes you a cronut for what you endured during her absence.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Malcontent and misanthrope in the same post. Have I told you lately just how much I love you?

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  8. My pappy worked at the Post Office with many of his fellow World War II vets and in those days of the 60’s and 70’s the worst thing to happen to you is they would invite you to a local gin mill to join them in an after work cocktail – ahhh the good old days of the United States Post Office! Everything went to hell after they got rid of the Pony Express logo and became the US Postal Service!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve always loved this bit from Seinfeld where Newman explains working for the Postal Service:

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I wonder if you got the one bad apple in the bunch. That’s me being optimistic.

    I don’t do well with rude people. I like polite interactions. From a customer service standpoint, I know how to deal with (and often disarm) rude people. I do it with patience and my sunny disposition. But when it’s reversed, and I’m the customer, I find it irritating and unprofessional.

    One notable exception to this was “Grandma,” one of the servers at my college’s cafeteria. This woman was a battleaxe, but had a peculiar, indefinable charm. She’d bark, “Whaddaya want?” every time you came through the line. One of the guys in my frat threw her for a loop one day when he said, “I want YOU, Grandma.” She switched it up to “What would you like?” for a few days, but eventually went back to the original. She was pretty awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great story, Smak! What a great comeback by that guy! I don’t do well with rude people, either. I have a simplistic view of the order of the universe: you can be part of the problem or part of the solution. It’s very evident to me on what side of the divide stands the post office, especially Clerk 03 who probably growls herself to sleep every night.

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  11. This is the same horror story I hear about our Department of Motor Vehicles. For whatever reason, they are always nice to me. Perhaps I’m related to Godsend. Either that, or I’m too stupid to know when people are being rude to me.
    What I do find annoying is the Grandma check-out clerks who want to have 30 minute visits with every customer ahead of me in line. Why must I hear her heart-wrench tales of Aunt Harriet’s bunion’s, cousin Brenda’s hemorrhoids, and her personal bout with liver spots? Calgon, take me away!

    Liked by 2 people

    • One thing you won’t ever get at the Post Office is happy chat, though. But I agree with you, happy chat that holds up a line, makes me very unhappy as I wait.

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      • Down here in Snowbird City, Florida there is so much happy chat. It is so annoying when you have been standing in line 20 minutes already because your package weighs over 13 ounces. I’ve also seen people bring just the contents and ask the clerk for a box, tape, address label and pen.

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        • “I’ve also seen people bring just the contents and ask the clerk for a box, tape, address label and pen.”

          Those jerks might be former postal workers rubbing it in, Tom.

          One of the benefits of living in NYC is that we’re not big on happy chat up here.

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    • It’s off to a good start; Godsend’s recovered and I didn’t have to go anywhere near the Canal Street Post Office. It’s life’s simple pleasures that are so meaningful as well as avoiding a bowl full of masochism.

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  12. You have had a brutal winter–my condolences. But could church sale divinity pink be mistaken as puke pink?

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  13. The customer “service” folks at the post office should get together with the cashiers at my neighborhood grocery store. I bet they all go to the same School of Nasty for training.

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  14. You know, V, I’ve had a not so pleasant encounter myself at the post office. One recently where the lady behind the counter barely glanced at me when I was trying to be reimbursed for my package not getting to its destination when it was promised and it really needed to be. Plus a giant sign proclaiming one would get their money back if it didn’t. I was surprised by her rudeness because I was being nice. I don’t know if it’s a terrible job or maybe they need some stools or massagers back there to limber up.

    I’m sure your weather is only exacerbating foul moods. But seriously, there’s just no reason.

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    • One thing so many postal workers today have in common is a natural hostility toward the public, Brig. It’s like they take their coffee with contempt. I completely agree with you: there’s just no reason. I hope that when you left it was with your refund.

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  15. Jerk is never out of season in New York. Don’t feel so special.

    I saw Something Rotten on Monday. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I don’t really like musicals so is it even fair for me to render an opinion? I’ll wait until the reviews are out. Then I’ll know what to think.

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    • Sometimes I feel nostalgic for courtesy. Forgive me. I saw Cush Jumbo in Josephine and I at Joe’s Pub last night, a one woman show about Josephine Baker. I was blown away. What a powerhouse talent. As members of the Public we (I was with my friend Milton) got lucky and scored great seats about six feet away from the stage. We thought she was good in The River but she was brilliant in this. And the room, which she worked well, is very intimate. I highly recommend it. Shows like that are why I live in New York. I told him that when we look back on our lives that night will make it into “the good old days”. If you can get a ticket don’t miss this one. As for Something Rotten, I love Brian Darcy James, Christian Borle, musicals and comedy. I’ll try for rush seats via Broadway for Broke People.

      Like

      • I know all about her and that show. I saw her in The River as well with Wolverine and thought it was kind of lame, but she wasn’t. I can’t find a discount for that show (The Public NEVER has discounts for ANYTHING) so I don’t know if I’ll get there or not. Maybe it’ll transfer to off-Broadway.

        Regardless of my feelings for musicals overall, Darcy-James and Borle were pretty brilliant. They’re rival playwrights (Brole is Shakespeare as a rock star). They have a few scenes where it’s just the two of them battling that’s worth the price of admission.

        Are you a member of TDF yet? Get on it. Currently, you can get a ticket to Lisa D’Amour’s Airline Highway for only $39 bucks. It’ll be at least double that after it opens.

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  16. I used to wonder why “The Top Ten Most Wanted” were shown in the Post Office. Now I know: The top ten most wanted are IN the Post Office!

    On one wall – Top Ten Most Wanted; on the other wall – Employee of the Month. It’s the same person!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I believe the Ides of March have been extra strong this year. I can’t even begin to detail the bureaucratic hell that I have been enduring on this side of the country. I could only hope for snow. Five middle fingers to them all!

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  18. I have never experienced a postal employee on par with Clerk 03. I’ve had a bitchy Whole Foods cashier, but I never take those personally. Wait, does Clerk 03 have a cousin that works at my local Whole Foods? Next time we’re there, I will ask them outright, “Is your last name 03, by any chance?”

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    • I am certain that the 03’s are a large clan, Mike, spreading their special brand of sour in all 50 states, Canada, the parts of Mexico where the water is bad, as well as most of the rest of the world and select locations in Deep Space.

      Like

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