|Our friendly neighborhood post office|
Since I was heading east anyway, a friend and I stopped at the next available post office. There was a line there as well but at least it moved. It was a sobering experience to say the least.
|Post Office patrons waiting, waiting, and ... waiting|
To add insult to injury you were greeted at the door with another employee with a pad of paper questions. It was a list of things that she asked you. Each answer was checked off and when done, she handed the slip to you and told you to present it to the clerk behind the counter. What made it even more infuriating was that he took his time behind the counter and she waited in the lobby for the next patron. We all just stood there. It would seem to me that her services would have been better served behind the counter not as an order taker that waited for the next patron.
Then this clerk, when done with his customer, just left. There was no one behind the counter. We all looked at each other, then the paper taker and back at each other. One person left but two or three more entered the line. Finally, after 5 minutes (the post office thoughtfully had a clock so you can watch time fly, or not, as you wait in line) he returned and took the next patron.
I don't know what that paper did because lo and behold, he too asked many of the same questions. When I finally got there I pointed this out but he said he was required to. So ... what was the use of the woman waiting around asking questions if they were going to be asked anyway? She would have been better utilized behind the counter rather than standing around. I can tell already, Christmas is going to be a joy at the post office here in the Coachella Valley. It is this kind of behavior that drives businesses and patrons to seek other means ... notably FedEx and UPS. There are many in Congress who have voiced the same observations as they all make money and the post office loses billions every year!
|IRS call that took 56+ minutes|
before I could talk to an agent
Civil servants, who have protections that are far above and beyond those enjoyed in the private sector, seem to relish making you wait ... in person, on the phone even in answering letters or email. The bigger the line, the slower they get and the longer you wait. Truly, doing business with them is like watching time go backwards. There is no incentive, at least in their minds, salary and benefits aside, that gives them incentive. I know people who would kill for their jobs.
Many people are unaware that when the I-10 freeway collapsed in West LA, after the Northridge Earthquake, CalTrans, our highway building / maintenance program said that it would take from 6 - 9 months to repair the broken overpass that collapsed onto the freeway. Traffic was a nightmare as you had to get off the freeway via a ramp onto city streets, wind your way to the next good ramp and proceed going west towards Santa Monica. The city fathers soon discovered they were losing millions (money turns the crank) as freight lines, trucks and anyone moving anything tried to find other solutions. The daily commute was a nightmare. The cost of moving goods through the city skyrocketed. Everyone was up in arms. The thought of up to 9 months of this? Deplorable.
In their desperation they put out bids and incentivized any company that was awarded a bid that they would get $1 million a day bonus for every day they beat their estimate. A bid was let to a private firm that said 90 days. That sure beat the at least 6 month estimate by Cal Trans so they got the bid. The upshot? It was completed in 61 days. Even better than it was before and became a model for every retrofitted overpass in the Los Angeles basin.
How, you may ask, is this design. Design covers every aspect of our lives. Be it a pretty brochure, the trip that we take and yes, the someone who designed the very processes that are being followed in delivering our mail. That original post office was started in the 1700's by Ben Franklin. At one time, it was the most efficient postal delivery system in the world. It was a wonder, but like many of our institutions developed over the years, there have been resisted improvements over the years. I was witness to this in college. The linotype hot lead type of printing was replaced by cold type offset printing, then desktop printing that put the control of the page layout with the editors stopping the need for as many press room employees. Newspapers have failed because they lost their way in presenting the news. Marshall McLuhan, media guru in the 60's, would have welcomed the digital age as he said so famously, "The medium is the message." New processes, new techniques! I think that Ole Ben would have wrapped his arms around a computer ... anything that could get information from here to there instantly. The lack of speed was the Bain of his existence!
Thank you for reading my blog. Please, take the time to explore earlier blogs where the emphasis here and always is to explore the ways design and art affects our lives ... and always has.